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Tony Shalhoub is Ian Stark, a fun-loving horror writer with a penchant for practical jokes. Henry McNeeley, played by Neil Patrick Harris, is obsessive compulsive, afraid of everything, insistent on working when there is work to be done, and Ian's new editor. Their starkly different approaches to work and life clash as they work together, which apparently involves a lot more hanging out than actual writing or editing.
They are joined in their hijinks by Ian's typist, Jake Donovan, who's not too bright after years of recreational marijuana use; Maddie Keller, a bartender and college student who somehow has difficulty attracting men; and Henry's girlfriend, Tess Farraday, who is every bit who you would expect to be with an obsessive compulsive, phobia-ridden, super-serious book editor.
The show, an NBC Sitcom, ran for a single season, 1999-2000. Despite being both clever and funny, it suffered from clashing styles with Frasier, which followed it in the next time slot, leading to its time-slot bouncing and subsequent cancellation.
This show provides examples of:
- Death of the Author: Played With in The Grade. The professor in question insists Ian doesn't understand Ian's own books, though he doesn't know it is Ian at the time.
- Epunymous Title: Ian Stark is Stark Raving Mad
- Hypno Fool: Ian and Henry hypnotized Jake and Tess to respectively believe they were Romeo and Juliet. Turn your back on two people believing they're hell-bent literary lovers that died in Shakespeare's play, and look what happens.
- I Was Young and Needed the Money: Ian once starred in a cheesy musical. He is so ashamed of it, that he is willing to let people believe he was in a mental institution during that time.
- Unwanted Gift Plot: Jake receives a heavy bead necklace from his then girlfriend, which he must wear for the rest of the episode because he "loves" it so much.