A seriocomic show airing on NBC from 200004 about a hotshot New York attorney named Ed Stevens (Tom Cavanagh) who, following a painful divorce, moves back to his little home town of Stuckeyville, Ohio, buys the local bowling alley, and runs it in conjunction with his law firm.
Basically Northern Exposure without the Fish out of Water elements, this show went for a sense of eccentric whimsy, which was usually genuine and smile-inducing ("Hey! You like sex? Come to the Festival of Ducks!").
Had an odd first episode - the entirety of the pilot was presented as a "Previously On..." intro and they started with episode 2.
Provides examples of:
- Artistic Title
- Automobile Opening: Through the town of Westfield, NJ, playing the part of Stuckeyville, OH.
- Berserk Button: "I am a Lawyer. I own a bowling alley. They are not the same thing." - Ed's standard response to being called 'The Bowling Alley Lawyer'.
- Beta Couple: Michael and Nancy.
- Big Eater: Ed is a proud member of the local restaurant's "Two Pie Club".
- The Big Guy: Kenny played by Mike Starr.
- Bowling for Ratings
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Ed. Mike counts as a Bunny Ears Doctor.
- Given the nature of most of the other characters, though, their quirkiness probably seems tame by comparison.
- "Ten bucks if you..."
- Cloudcuckoolander: Phil
- Cool Loser: Warren Cheswick, Molly.
- Devoted to You: Ed to Carol.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Ed to Carol at times.
- Eccentric Townsfolk: The show thrives on this trope.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ed and Mike, best buds since they were kids. Also Carol and Molly who, despite running in different circles in high school, have become very close in the years since.
- Hollywood Nerd: Warren (Justin Long), who would go on to date Drew Barrymore and be the Mac Guy in real life.
- Joisey: Exterior Stuckeyville town scenes were filmed in Westfield NJ, some locals were hired as "Stuckeyville Extras".
- Mistaken for Gay: The Burtons take in a Swedish foreign exchange student named Gunther, and Mike makes this assumption when he finds Gunther doing things with Nancy like baking and wearing makeup. It turns out Gunther is just pretending to like these things to get closer to Nancy. Mike promptly throws him out of the house.
- Never Win the Lottery: One of Ed's cases concerned co-workers being sued after they tricked a fellow worker into thinking he had won the lottery - who then told off the Boss and quit his job before he found out that he hadn't.
- Nobody Over Fifty Is Gay: Averted with the elderly and cantankerous Charlie Hudson, who is somewhere in his seventies (and dying). His lover is about the same age.
- Quirky Town: Come on, they named it Stuckeyville.
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- Phil's actor left briefly to do a candid camera style show, so did Phil himself.
- The actor who played Warren's friend Mark was set to undergo gastric bypass surgery, so the procedure was written into the series as a plot point for the character.
- Running Gag: The ten dollar bets.
- Phil and his zany schemes.
- The name Godfrey.
- Shout-Out: The name of Ed's old law firm (Farmer & Sheehan) is an in-joke reference to "Late Show with David Letterman" stagehands Pat Farmer and Kenny Sheehan. (The series was produced by Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants.)
- Stage Magician: Stuckeyville Sam.
- The Bet: Ed and Mike's classic $10 bets.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: A few times with Ed and Carol before they finally get together. S1: Ed —> Carol then Carol —> Ed. S2/Early S3: Ed —> Carol. Late S3: Carol —> Ed. Though, late season 3 is the most straightforward example.
- Villainy-Free Villain: Dennis Martino, the principal who (despite very early appearances to the contrary) is not a bad guy. But he is Ed's romantic rival for Carol over a season and a half. He is too serious to ever have fun, making it clear (especially with every other significant character being fun-loving) that Carol would be making a big mistake if she married him. But she comes extremely close to doing so.
- What Have We Ear?: Stuckeyville Sam does this to Ed at the end of the episode "The World of Possibility".
- Will They or Won't They?: Ed and Carol. They will.