One of the best sitcoms of the 90's, "The Drew Carey Show" is an instance of a series that I thought was terrific when it first aired, but I appreciate even more now than I did back then. The series starred comedian Drew Carey as...Drew Carey, an everyday, average guy (who, unlike most people playing "everyday, average guys" on TV, actually looked like an average, everyday guy) working at a desk job that he didn't care for with a terrifying co-worker named Mimi (Kathy Kinney) who became one of TV's most memorable villains.
When not managing to wage war at work against Mimi (see Season 4's brilliant "High Road to China", where Mimi gets revenge on Drew's latest prank by shipping him to China with no money and no way home), Drew hangs out with dim-witted pals Oswald (Diedrich Bader, whose character gets progressively dumber as the series goes on) and Lewis (Ryan Stiles), as well as pal Kate (Christa Miller, now on "Scrubs".)
Despite a fairly simple, straightforward premise and a handful of locations, the show's writers (which included co-creator Sam Simon, a writer and producer on "The Simpsons") managed to come up with a wealth of inspired situations for the cast. Even when the show changed dramatically in the final seasons, it was still better than most sitcoms on TV.
Although the final few seasons started to fall off a bit, the show's cast still stood out as uniformly superb and one of the big reasons for the show's success. Carey did a fantastic job playing a relatable, good-natured everyguy who was stuck in a job next to his arch nemesis. Stiles and Bader stand out as possibly one of the best pairs of TV dimwits ever, and are a fine example of the show's best dumb, yet clever humor - some of their best lines are incredibly stupid, yet still smart and usually completely unexpected. Christa Miller has found her true glory on "Scrubs", but she was terrific here, as well, and the show suffered when she left in 2002. The one cast issue in this first season is Kevin Pollak, who plays Drew's boss. While Pollak is an underrated comedic talent, the series never quite figures out how to take the character beyond being an average, gruff boss (and we only hear the character, never see him.) The second season of the series brings in Craig Ferguson - who turned out to be a perfect choice - as Drew's new boss.
Overall, the series hadn't quite clicked fully yet in this first season, but it's still a very funny series. I can't wait to see the later seasons of the series, as the cast got more comfortable in their roles, the writing took more chances and the series threw in the occasional contest (spot the errors) or live episodes. Hopefully sets of future seasons will hit store shelves soon.
1. 1- 1 13 Sep 95 Pilot
2. 1- 2 20 Sep 95 Miss Right
3. 1- 3 27 Sep 95 The Joining of Two Unlike Elements is a Mixture
4. 1- 4 4 Oct 95 Nature Abhors a Vacuum
5. 1- 5 18 Oct 95 No Two Things in Nature are Exactly Alike
6. 1- 6 1 Nov 95 Drew Meets Lawyers
7. 1- 7 8 Nov 95 Drew in Court
8. 1- 8 15 Nov 95 Lewis' Sister
9. 1- 9 29 Nov 95 Drew and Mrs. Louder
10. 1-10 6 Dec 95 Science Names Suck
11. 1-11 13 Dec 95 The Electron Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree
12. 1-12 20 Dec 95 Isomers Have Distinct Characteristics
13. 1-13 3 Jan 96 Drew and the Unstable Element
14. 1-14 10 Jan 96 Drew and Mr. Bell's Nephew
15. 1-15 17 Jan 96 There is No Scientific Name for a Show About God
16. 1-16 31 Jan 96 Drew's New Assistant
17. 1-17 7 Feb 96 The Front
18. 1-18 14 Feb 96 Playing the Unified Field
19. 1-19 21 Feb 96 Atomic Cat Fight
20. 1-20 27 Feb 96 Drew and Kate and Kate's Mom
21. 1-21 1 May 96 Drew Gets Motivated
22. 1-22 8 May 96 Buzz Beer
VIDEO: These episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio by Warner Brothers, and look about broadcast quality. Sharpness and detail are consistently fine throughout, with no inconsistency. The presentation does show a few minor instances of shimmering, but otherwise, looked crisp and clean. Colors remained bright and vivid, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: The stereo soundtrack was perfectly fine, with crisp dialogue, music and sound effects.
EXTRAS: "Life in a Cubicle" is a 19-minute featurette that has the cast and co-creator Bruce Helford chatting about their experiences working on the series and the somewhat rocky road the series faced in getting to the small screen.
Final Thoughts: "The Drew Carey Show" is a great deal of fun in this first season, and only gets better as the seasons go on. The DVD set doesn't have much in the way of supplements, but audio/video quality is terrific. Hopefully, this set will do well and season 2 will come to DVD sooner than later. Highly recommended.