It Might be The Drew Carey Show But It’s About Everyman

We are in the middle of the “It’s My Show” blog series, and today we are looking at a show that debuted in the mid-nineties. Although it feels like it was yesterday, we are looking back 25 years to The Drew Carey Show.

Picture of The Drew Carey Show
Photo: listal.com

Carey created the show from his stand-up comic and writing background, along with Bruce Helford who wrote for the television series, Roseanne.

The show aired on ABC from September of 1995 until September of 2004. When Drew tried to explain his character, he described him as “what the actor would have been if he had not become an actor.” The show centers around Drew and his friends: unambitious Lewis (Ryan Stiles), not-so-bright Oswald (Diedrich Bader), and on-and-off again girlfriend Kate (Christa Miller).

Set in Cleveland, Drew works for the department store Winfred-Louder as Assistant Director of Personnel for the first seven seasons. His coworker, Mimi (Kathy Kinney), who always looks like the before photo in “how to apply your make-up correctly,” is also featured in the show. When the show begins, she and Drew strongly dislike each other, but they become closer over the run of the series. Drew also moonlights with his group of friends, making and selling Buzz Beer, a caffeinated alcoholic beverage, out of his garage. The beverage gains a following and is served around the city including at Drew’s hang-out, The Warsaw Tavern.

How to Stream The Drew Carey Show
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The theme song bounced around a bit. In season one, the song “Moon Over Parma” was used with a few lyric changes to reference Cleveland. The second season ushered in “Five O’ Clock World.” The fourth season replaced this theme with “Cleveland Rocks.” In the eighth season, the previous three themes were all used but in a different genre each week.

One unusual aspect of Drew’s show was his frequent “event” episodes. For example, one episode featured the theme “What’s Wrong with This Episode?” and invited viewers to find errors to win a prize. There were three live productions when they actually did the show twice, one for each coast. There was also a prolonged story when Drew is in a coma.

The Drew Carey Show (1995) - Video Detective
Photo: videodetective.com

The show received praise from critics and viewers. It spent its entire life on Wednesday nights. Seasons two through four it was in the top twenty but Season five started to decline and the ratings dropped drastically during the final two seasons.

I have to admit I never watched this show when it was on in prime time. When I look at the opposing shows, they weren’t anything I tended to watch either except for West Wing a couple years, so I’m not sure why I missed it in its first life.

It was on about the same time as Friends with a similar theme but Friends has had an incredible after life and Drew Carey’s show has not.  A lot of people describe the show as “mean.” With the popularity of Whose Line Is It Anyway? which I do enjoy, you would think that would spark a rerun of the show.

The Eight Best THE DREW CAREY SHOW Episodes of Season Nine | THAT'S  ENTERTAINMENT!
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The show seems similar to Seinfeld as well. It is about a guy and his close-knit group of friends.  However, where Seinfeld was always described as being about “nothing,” Drew Carey’s show seems to be about “everyman.” I got the impression from some viewers that they were so much like everyman they were extremely boring.

Apparently, only season one is available to watch. There are several places including Amazon and Apple TV where you can purchase an episode. That is also the only season available on DVD, but I could not find out why. Apparently, it aired as a rerun on the CW for a bit but since that time it has never been in rerun syndication, and only two seasons were ever on Hulu; none of the show has been available on Netflix as far as I can find. One source did mention that there is so much copyrighted material in the shows that would need to be edited out, it would not be possible to do a DVD set.

Let Us Stream 'The Drew Carey Show' You Cowards
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Since I don’t have a lot of personal knowledge about this show, and most of the seasons are not available to view, I will leave the final word to a few of those fans who did write reviews of the show.

Not as funny as I thought.

This show wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be, but it’s okay. No profanity, which is always a plus for me. But I could do without all the references to sex among the characters.

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AllisonLVenezio11 April 2001

U know, before Drew Carey got his own show, I didn’t even know who he was. This show truly capitalizes his talents as a comedian and actor.

“The Drew Carey Show” is by far one of the funniest sitcoms on television in recent years. It also happens to be my third favorite show. Our bespectacled hero, Drew, works in a Winfried-Louder Department Store’s offices, run by a dorky Scot, Nigel Wick (Craig Ferguson). His arch-nemesis, Mimi Bobeck-Carey (Kathy Kinney) wears tons of make-up and tacky clothes, much in the same sense that Peggy Bundy on “Married with Children” was the queen of tacky. Of course, Drew has his girlfriend, Kate (Christa Miller) and his dopey buddies, Lewis Kiniski (Ryan Stiles, who upstages Carey) and Oswald Lee Harvey (Deidrich Bader).

This show is very funny. The plotlines are always interesting, and of course, Lewis and Oswald have to accomplish some stupid feat in the 1/2 hour (ie: they used $8000 to record an album using classic songs, with them–“Tequila” or Lewis saying “Wipeout!”) Of course, everyone gets into a big mess, Mimi insults Drew, Drew plots revenge, and everything is said and done in the half hour.

I love this show, and highly recommend it to everyone who has a good sense of humor. Drew Carey’s standup is excellent, and this show just adds another good credit to a very talented man!

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Jeremiah Avery said…

I do remember the show. There were some funny interactions among the characters (e.g., Oswald and Lewis) and Craig Ferguson was a funny foil/boss of Drew’s. However, it’s not a show I’d be clamoring to see again. If I ever caught it while flipping through, I might watch a little of it before moving on. I’m 35 but I think only a handful of shows from the 80’s and 90’s would get frequent viewing from me now (e.g., “Cheers”, “Frasier”, “Married with Children” and “Seinfeld”).

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FUNNY SHOW!!!!!!

starwarstrek16 February 2000

This is one funny sitcom! Drew Carey and his co-stars (especially Kathy Kinney as Mimi Bobeck) each have an ingenious sense of comic timing! In addition, the show itself fairly accurately portrays the plight of the normal, everyday guy who’s trying to find both love and success in today’s world. Plus, the show sometimes has some highly loony episode storylines and crazy sight-gags that are normally only seen in movies! I would highly recommend this TV series to any serious comedy buff!

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McAlvie said…

I do vaguely remember it, although I was never a big fan. My suspicion for why it has mostly disappeared is that while its audience was loyal, it was pretty narrow. In most shows, you can have a group of sad sacks or outcasts, but you also need someone relatable to ground the show. I don’t think the show had that. Drew Carey might have been the central character, but not a terribly strong one. Then that narrow audience grows up.

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Cleveland Rocks! Cleveland Rocks!

SonicStuart17 August 2004

A great sitcom comedy show! The show is about Drew Carey and he works at a department store where he is the assistant personal director in Cleveland and he has been stuck at his job for ten more years. Other than fighting with co-worker Mimi, his hobbies include drinking beer and not being able to get dates. To make a few extra bucks he has a micro-brewery going in his garage with his buddies Lewis and Oswald. This show is so funny and I also like the intro to this show entitled “Cleveland Rocks” in the opening we see Drew and the others running out of the building and then tail-gating at a Cleveland Indians baseball game and then you see Drew and the crew dancing and at the end of the intro Drew yells “OHIO”! My favorite characters from this show were Lewis and Oswald. They have got to put this show out on DVD. Another great 90’s ABC sitcom!

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I’m not impressed anymore.

5 July 2003 | by shrek2004 – See all my reviews

Eh. Not the greatest show ever. The whole “Buzz Beer” thing is totally overrated, and so is Kate. Some of the shows, however, are very good (like when Drew goes to the Value Date class, or winds up working in the cafeteria, or getting sent to China). Some of the best episodes are from 1997-1998, I seem to remember that was when this show was in it’s prime. After Nicki left, it was all downhill from there.

Thumbs up or thumbs down?  I’ll let you decide. I would love to hear your opinion of the show.

All Hail to the Grief

Monday is Presidents Day, and as I mention that fact, I can hear the collective groans.  Whether you’re in the Hate Trump or Love Trump camp, you are probably thoroughly sick of politics.  Believe me, I hear you. However, today we are going to look at presidential moments in television. And before you exit out, be assured I am not talking about the Nixon-Kennedy debates.  We’re going to look at my top television episodes that featured a president.

Several series have included presidents with people dressed in costumes at Halloween parties.  George Washington showed up on Growing Pains in 1990 and on the first episode of The Munsters in 1964, while Thomas Jefferson appeared on Mike and Molly in 2011. I mention the roles, but we’re not going to concentrate on them.

Several candidates also made whistle stops campaigning on television.  Thomas Jefferson was on Simon and Simon in 1986 when they were trying to recover a family journal, Teddy Roosevelt was on The Virginian in 1962 fighting with the Rough Riders, and Franklin Roosevelt was a minor character on Wonder Woman in 1975, when she used her super powers to return a wounded WWII pilot to Washington. In 2002, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson all made an appearance on Sabrina the Teenage Witch to convince her aunt not to run for city council. Because these were minor appearances and the shows were not about the presidents, I did not include them in my top five.

Here are my top five television episodes featuring a president as a character.

No. 5 – Bewitched: “George Washington Zapped Here” – 1972. When I saw a Bewitched episode that starred George Washington, I was sure I had my number 1 show for this blog.  Then I watched the show.  I tend to look at Bewitched almost as two different shows.  I love the first five years and include them in some of my all-time favorite tv episodes.  It was one of the best fantasy shows ever created, but by the last season the fantasy had died. The last season, including this episode, is like trying to watch a wrinkled, saggy grandmother trying to pull off wearing a mini skirt and go-go boots.  It’s a bit frustrating, a bit humorous, fairly sad, and extremely uncomfortable. If George Washington had a premonition about appearing in this episode, I’m sure he would have found a way to ban television in the Constitution.

Trying to help Tabitha with her homework, Esmeralda zaps George Washington to the present time. George is played by Will Geer. I feel like this theme of zapping historical figures happened more often than it should have during this show’s run.  Also, Esmeralda is not as likeable a character as Aunt Clara or Uncle Arthur. Of course, Washington wanders off and is arrested for speaking without a permit.  The only thing more painful than watching this show was the realization that it was a two-parter; the second episode has George going before a local judge and finally being exonerated by the truth. Talking about truth reminds me when George said, “I cannot tell a lie”, and I have to admit this episode is dreadful. Apparently, politics was just as painful 45 years ago as it is today.

No. 4 – Dharma and Greg: “Dutch Treat” – 2001. Numbers 3 and 4 are really a toss-up.  Abraham Lincoln stars in both shows, and he appears in dreams in both episodes. This sitcom was on the air from 1997 to 2002 starring Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson as a young couple who eloped on their first date.  She was raised by hippy parents and he comes from a wealthy family. The show earned eight Golden Globe and six Emmy nominations, and Elfman won the Best Actress Golden Globe in 1999. This episode was a bit too formulaic for me, so Drew Carey beat it out for number 3 in my list.

In this show, Dharma and Greg argue about being a role model for their young college friend.  During the argument they both claim to be independent, so they decide to go dutch for a week to find out which one is truly independent. Of course, they end up realizing they are dependent on each other during the experiment.   Peter, Greg’s coworker, has some weird dreams during the show.  At the end of the episode, Peter leaves for lunch with a bunch of Victoria’s Secret models who think he’s hot (he’s not), and Abraham Lincoln arrives at the office for a consultation with Peter. Dharma and Greg inform him Peter is out and invite him to lunch with them.  He takes off his hat to reveal it is full of waffles. At this point, Dharma informs Greg that they are now in Peter’s dream and the show ends. Abe is played by Ryan Stiles and, by chance, our no. 3 show features Stiles as a cast member.

No. 3 – The Drew Carey Show: “Drew’s in a Coma” – 2001. From 1995-2004, Drew portrays the average guy. He works at a department store and has a group of friends he hangs out with, primarily at the Warsaw Tavern.  Ryan Stiles is one of these friends, who played Abe Lincoln in the Dharma and Greg episode. He also appeared on Drew’s improv show, Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

In this episode, Drew is in an auto accident and goes into a coma.  His friends and family try to bring him out of it, but he is enjoying his unconscious dreams.  We see him in an apartment with a bunch of sexy women. Mimi is his sister-in-law who wears flamboyant make-up.  They have a love/hate relationship, but in his dreams, she is very conservative looking and tells him she is his slave, being very respectful.  He has a pizza tree, a beer fountain, and a door that opens to the greatest moments in sports featuring himself.  After several attempts to bring him out of the coma, his family gets ready to pull the plug to see if it shocks his body into waking up.  When they unplug the respirator, Drew is in the middle of a Trivial Pursuit game with William Shakespeare and Abe Lincoln.  (Abe is played by Charles Brame, and he also was Abe Lincoln on the Growing Pains episode mentioned in the second paragraph of the blog.)  Abe is excelling at all the history questions, until Drew reads him a shocking question.  The card asks “Who shot Abraham Lincoln?” The shock Abe feels equals the one Drew feels when he is unplugged and it forces him to realize he has to choose between going on to heaven or back to his life on earth. In the words of his fellow gamer, he had to decide “to be or not to be” and he chooses to return to earth for a while.

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No. 2 – Spin City: “A Tree Falls in Manhattan” – 2001. Spin City is about a group of city hall employees who work to help the mayor.  Mike, played by Michael J. Fox, is great at his job but he is leaving to get married and travel around the world.  The staff covers up for the mayor who is not very competent, but they struggle with their personal lives.  I did not watch Spin City a lot when it was on the air from 1996 to 2002. This was a funny episode, so it came in at number 2, even though Washington is only an on-air character for a minute or two.

Trying to impress his new girlfriend so they can watch the sun rise over the East River, the mayor orders a tree outside the mansion to be cut down, not realizing that it was a tree planted by George Washington and is protected. Charlie tells a girl he picks up that night about the tree story, not knowing she was the campaign manager for the opposition.  She tells her boss, and they go on the air to make an announcement.  When Charlie sees her, he realizes what has happened. Four George Washingtons appear in this episode played by David Hayman, Jack Wright, Gelbert Coloma, and Anthony Provenzano Jr. They are part of the Revolutionary War Society picketing city hall. After all this mayhem, Mike realizes he needs to be back in city hall and returns to his job. He arranges for the mayor to go on television saying “I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down George Washington’s tree, but I used the wood to build a shelter for the homeless.”  At this time, Fox was dealing with Parkinson’s Disease and announced he would be leaving at the end of this season.  When he did eventually leave the show, the explanation was that he accepted a job as an environmental lobbyist who moved to Washington, DC.  He met a senator there named Alex P. Keaton, the name of Fox’s character on Family Ties.

presidentsdayflicka1

No. 1 – My Friend Flicka: ”Rough and Ready” – 1956. I had heard of the book and movie My Friend Flicka, but I did not know that it was ever a television show. It was only on the air one year, and only 39 episodes were made, airing between February 1956- February 1957. It was a mid-season replacement for The Adventures of Champion, a show starring Gene Autry.  Unfortunately, neither show could compete with The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin which was on another channel during this time slot. The show was later aired Monday nights on the Disney Channel in the mid-1980s. Ken McLaughlin, played by Johnny Washbrook, is devoted to his horse Flicka.  He and his parents live at the Goose Bar Ranch in Coulee Springs. After this show was cancelled, Washbrook appeared on several shows, including three different characters on My Three Sons, but then went into the banking profession and moved to Martha’s Vineyard.

This episode was a delightful and charming show featuring Theodore Roosevelt played by Frank Albertson. Young Ken McLaughlin decides to write a letter to the president because there is too much overgrazing going on due to the government failing to put restrictions on the lands. A couple of weeks later, the newspaper has an article about Vice President Roosevelt coming to Coulee Springs for a vacation.  In the meantime, several families are forced to put their ranches up for sale and move because there is no place for their cattle to graze.  Ken meets a man fishing and shows him lures he makes himself.  The man is quite impressed, and they make plans to meet again in the morning to fish.  The next day, Ken explains what is happening with the land, saying he wrote the president but never heard back, and then tells the man that his family had now put their ranch up for sale also.  The man tells Ken to have his father come to town, and he will arrange for him to talk to the vice president.  He also has Ken take his picture with a large fish they caught.  When he and his father go to town for the meeting, he realizes that the man he has been fishing with is Vice President Theodore Roosevelt who takes care of the situation, putting regulations in place.  A few weeks later, Ken gets a letter.  Theodore Roosevelt is now President Roosevelt and he wanted to make sure Ken did get a letter back from the President. He also included the photo that Ken took of him and the fish. Albertson did a bully good job playing Teddy.

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Hopefully watching some of these episodes will convince you that it is possible to have a Happy Presidents Day.  Watching the influence these men still have in our modern-day history reminds us that our Constitution and government were created and modified by great men such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt, creating  a strong foundation that is hard to destroy. All you have to do to enjoy politics today is to choose one of these five episodes to watch. And wearing red, white, and blue while you do so wouldn’t hurt.