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Stark Raving Mad aired from September 1999 until July 2000 on NBC.
Type A obsessive met nut case in this oil-and-water sitcom. Henry ( Neil Patrick Harris) was a fastidious, germophobic book editor who was constantly rubbing his hands with an antiseptic; he had been assigned by his publisher to look after eccentric horror writer Ian ( Tony Shalhoub), whose first book, Below Ground, had been a best seller but who was facing writer's block in producing a second. Ian was the kind who cleaned his teeth with a sword and loved staging dark and scary practical jokes, particularly on jittery Henry. Jake ( Eddie McClintock) was Ian's dazed assistant, and Maddie ( Heather Paige Kent) the sensible barkeep in the restaurant below Ian's big New York loft, where he sometimes sang in a rock band. Tess (Dorie Barton) was Henry's girlfriend. Edgar the hyperractive dog was played by "Marty."
A Review by Variety
September 20, 1999 12:00AM PT
Stark Raving Mad
By Ray Richmond
At least on paper, this half-hour would practically need to trash the memory of Mother Teresa and promote the agenda of the Aryan Nation to avoid landing in the household ratings top 10. Ah, but mitigating factors abound. “Frasier” and “ER” are both arguably past their primes. And the competition has improved dramatically, no longer conceding the night, and perhaps even smelling a little blood. “Stark Raving Mad” is no slam-dunk when the opposition includes the high-profile new Fox satire “Action,” the rejiggered “Chicago Hope,” the WB hit “Charmed” and — never laugh at a ratings winner — professional wrestling on UPN.
This is brought up because “Stark Raving Mad” is nothing very special. Its few real laughs look almost like accidents, since the premise itself strains plausibility. And unlike creator/executive producer Steven Levitan’s other NBC shows (“Frasier” and “Just Shoot Me”), this lacks anything resembling magic.
In fact, “Stark Raving Mad” (did the focus groups tell NBC that it must continue to carry a comedy on its schedule with “Mad” in the title?) is pretty much a one-joke wonder. And here’s the joke: Neil Patrick Harris (“Doogie Howser , M.D.”) is a fastidious, super-neurotic New York book editor with germ issues named Henry McNeely who is forced to “un-block” an eccentric bestselling horror novelist named Ian Stark (Tony Shalhoub of “Wings” and “Big Night” fame).
That’s pretty much the whole shebang. It’s “The Odd Couple” in Hell. One guy is certifiably bonkers, the other’s a classic Type A nervous nelly. They blend about as well as “Stark Raving Mad” does with “Frasier” in the 9 o’clock hour. Pilot director James Burrows takes what he’s handed and works to at least make it irreverent, inspiring a pilot loaded with slapstick and sight gags to help juice Levitan’s mediocre teleplay.
Second episode is funnier than the first, yet still reduces itself to Charlie Sheen jokes for its comic fuel. Harris and Shalhoub are both highly capable, charismatic performers; unfortunately, “Stark Raving Mad” has, as a comedy vehicle, less in common with “Frasier,” “Just Shoot Me” and “Friends,” and more with “The Single Guy” and “Caroline in the City.” It’s too bad, because Harris and Shalhoub are both highly capable, charismatic performers. But it seems they will need to shine elsewhere.
Stark Raving Mad
(SITCOM; NBC, THURS. SEPT. 23, 9:30 P.M.)
Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Steven Levitan Prods. in association with 20th Century Fox TV. Executive producer, Steven Levitan; co-executive producer, Jeffrey Richman; supervising producer, David Goodman; producers, Brian Buckner, Sebastian Jones, Gayle Abrams, Lyn Green, Richard Levine; director, James Burrows; writer, Levitan.
Crew: Camera, Ken Lamkin, Tony Yarlett; production designer, Wendell Johnson; editor, Peter Chakos, Timothy Mozer; music, Steve Hampton, R. Korbin Kraus, John Adair; sound, Russ Gary; casting, Jeff Greenberg. 30 MIN.
With: Henry McNeely.....Neil Patrick Harris Ian Stark.....Tony Shalhoub Jake Donovan..... Eddie McClintock Maddie Keller..... Heather Paige Kent Edgar.....Marty What would happen if Doogie Howser had to work with Stephen King? Never thought about it? You will now, thanks to this intermittently amusing new comedy blessed with what may turn out to be a deceptively challenging timeslot. How can "Stark Raving Mad" miss, launching as it does in the "Must See TV" equivalent of paradise (between "Frasier" and "ER" on Thursday nights at 9:30)?
A Review from The New York Times
NEW TV SEASON IN REVIEW; A Book Editor and His Author, Just Not the Same Type
By ANITA GATES
Published: September 23, 1999
'Stark Raving Mad'
NBC, tonight at 9:30
(Channel 4 in New York)
The cleverest line in the premiere of the sitcom ''Stark Raving Mad'' belongs to Neil Patrick Harris near the end of the half-hour. Hanging from an apartment ceiling in a harness, he says, ''No wonder women always play Peter Pan.'' Most of the show, sorry to say, is just dreadful.
Mr. Harris (now six years away from his role as a teen-age doctor in ''Doogie Howser, M.D.'') plays a fastidious Caspar Milquetoast of a book editor, the kind of guy who can't stand near a high-rise window because of vertigo and who applies an antibacterial product after shaking hands. He has been assigned a new author to work with, a slightly deranged horror novelist played by the film and stage actor Tony Shalhoub (his best-known television role was as the Nantucket taxi driver on ''Wings''). Mr. Shalhoub's character enjoys faking his death for research purposes, walking on the low wall around his apartment balcony and picking his teeth with a giant knife.
The show's creator and executive producer is Steven Levitan, who also created NBC's hit ''Just Shoot Me,'' but unless these characters develop fast he hasn't given prime time another winner.
An Article from The SF Chronicle
NBC Loads Its Big Guns For Thursdays
`Friends' starts new season, `Third Watch' makes debut
Thursday, September 23, 1999
There are qualitative questions and cracks in the dam, but NBC's Thursday night lineup remains the envy of the other networks.
NBC straps on most of its Thursday gear tonight, with season premieres of ``Friends,'' ``Jesse'' and ``Frasier,'' and the series debuts of ``Stark Raving Mad'' and ``Third Watch.''
The missing piece of equipment is ``ER.'' Its producer has kindly consented to lending the 10 p.m. time slot to ``Third Watch.'' No argument was recorded; John Wells is executive producers for both shows.
And ``Jesse'' -- horrors to Betsy! -- wasn't sent out for advance preview. Maybe they thought the season opener was below the show's high standards.
NBC is bragging that Jesse (Christina Applegate) has a new career and new friends this season. She killed her old friends and drank their blood.
Speaking of friends, not blood, ``Friends'' (8 p.m. on Channel 4) has unfinished business from last spring.
As last season ended, Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Monica (Courteney Cox) entered a Las Vegas wedding chapel just as Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) were making a delirious exit.
So we have jarring sitcom complications.
Ross tonight: ``We don't need to get divorced. We're just going to get an annulment.''
Joey (Matt LeBlanc): ``I don't think surgery is the answer here.''
Points for the dumb-Joey joke, but this business of pairing off cast members in romantic cliff-hangers is growing stale. Correction -- it is stale. And cutesy. And silly. The show is capable of better.
``Frasier'' is the Thursday keystone at 9, despite the fact that it will always have a narrower appeal than the late, great ``Seinfeld.''
``Frasier'' begins its seventh season in excellent fettle, with Rita Wilson guest- starring as the latest perfect woman for Frasier (Kelsey Grammer).
Thing is, Frasier is the last person to realize that she's a dead ringer for his own late mother.
Soon, on a getaway to the Crane family cabin, she's saying, ``Frasier, you've hardly touched your chicken'' and ``Your father's right.''
It's good, Eddie pal fun, and anyone can call me for an explanation or a rote apology for a horrid pun. Really, I'm sorry already.
``Stark Raving Mad,'' at 9:30, is one of those shows that makes you think the NBC brass was smoking crack. Uh, not that they really were.
But did someone drive to Burbank and pitch this show as a comedy about a nervous Nellie book editor (Neil Patrick Harris) who is assigned to a horror novelist (Tony Shalhoub) with a morbid sense of humor?
Somehow, a perfectly good idea for an odd little play -- albeit an ``Odd Couple'' variation -- has been turned into a TV series.
Tonight, Harris' neurotic character ar rives at Shalhoub's New York home to find the writer hanging by the neck from his bedroom ceiling. Research. The show continues in this vein all through the pilot.
Harris (``Doogie Howser, M.D.'') and Shalhoub (``Wings'') make the show far more palatable than it should be, by rights, but it's hard to see how this slight comedy can blossom into a sustained series.
Nothing strange about ``Third Watch,'' the 10 p.m. drama. Wells combines New York police, paramedics and firefighters, all working the 3 to 11 p.m. shift, into a vortex of predictable action.
The effect is a little like listening to a siren for an hour.
Let's say there are lots of cast members, and short scenes, and constant movement. It's ``ER'' on the streets, but apparently without the compellingly interesting characters.
A drunken driver causes a fatal accident. A woman goes into labor on the subway. A kid takes a drug overdose. A baby is thrown from a burning building. A rookie cop learns the ropes. A rookie paramedic does the same. Someone gets shot on duty. Dissolve to producer credits. I did find myself wondering what will happen next week. I mean, what's left? The answer came from actor Skip Sudduth, in the role of veteran cop.
``We go from job to job solving problems as quick as we can, and then we go to another problem,'' he tells his rookie partner.
Yep, that about sums it up. After tonight, ``Third Watch'' can be found in its regular 8 p.m. Sunday time slot.
Finally, bad news for anyone looking forward to tonight's third episode of ``Action'' on Fox. KTVU (Channel 2) has pre-empted it, along with the season premiere of ``Family Guy,'' for a Giants-Dodgers game.
I'd cut the station some slack. Back when the baseball was scheduled, the game figured to be important, possibly even crucial.
But KTVU has dickered further, delaying ``Family Guy'' until midnight and ``Action'' until 12:30 a.m. so that syndicated ``Seinfeld'' and ``M*A*S*H'' reruns can be squeezed between 11 p.m. and midnight.
That's going to hurt the Fox shows and upset viewers. ``Seinfeld'' and ``M*A*S*H'' are the shows that should have been delayed until midnight.
To watch clips of Stark raving Mad go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=stark+raving+mad+tv+show
For more on Stark Raving Mad go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stark_Raving_Mad_(TV_series)
For a Page dedicated to Stark Raving Mad go to https://web.archive.org/web/20050418004610/http://www.geocities.com/owepar2/stark.html
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20130406170033/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/stark.html
For a Website dedicated to Neil Patrick Harris go to http://members.tripod.com/chloe74/neil.html
For a page dedicated to Tony Shalhoub go to http://www.100megspop2.com/presca/totally.html
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Keywords: Stark Raving Mad Cast (Links Updated 8/3/18)