Drew Carey is your everyday blue-collar guy who's struggling through life's ups and downs with his closest friends, Oswald, Lewis and Kate. Stuck in the same job for ten years, Drew performs a balancing act between sucking up to his boss and doing his best to irritate his annoying co-worker, Mimi. When he's not at work, he's trying to have some success in the romance department and indulging in a few of his own beers he brews in his garage with his friends.
It's a five o'clock world, and before it was unceremoniously pink-slipped in 2004, few television workplace comedies so keenly or hilariously captured the mind-numbing drudgery and soul-crushing despair of cubicle culture as The Drew Carey Show. This representative collection samples six episodes spanning the 1995 series' first four seasons. The pilot introduces the bespectacled, buzz-coiffed Everyman who works as the assistant director of personnel in a Cleveland department store, a position, he notes, "of indirect respect and oblique power." Misery loves company, and the company Drew kept formed one of TV's most amiable ensembles, including Ryan Stiles as Lewis (or, as Jason Alexander joked on Comedy Central's Drew Carey roast, "Kramer-lite"), Diedrich Bader as goofus Oswald, Christa Miller as Kate, Drew's lifelong platonic friend and unrequited crush, Kathy Kinney as Drew's office nemesis, Mimi. Craig Ferguson later joined the cast as Mr. Wick, Drew's pink slip-happy boss. "Playing the Unified Field" features a smoldering Jamie Lee Curtis as Drew's barber, a hard-partying danger-seeker who agrees to go out with Drew ("Don't bore me"). "We'll Always Remember Evaluation Day" finds Drew torn between his job and his secret girlfriend, a fellow employee (the enormously appealing Katy Selverstone). "Drew Blows His Promotion," the highlight of the collection, culminates in a practical joke that literally backfires in a symphony of flatulence. "My Best Friend's Wedding," the climax of season 3's Oswald-Kate story arc, would be best appreciated in a complete-season set. "DrugCo," with the monkapotamus (not to mention Charles Nelson Reilly), is one of the series' most bizarre episodes.
The Drew Carey Show was distinguished by its spontaneous, off-center sense of humor, exemplified by such throwaway bits of business as Ferguson's Sean Connery and Michael Caine impressions in "Promotion," and the wholly unexpected blockbuster production numbers ("Five O'Clock World" and "Cleveland Rocks") that became the series' signature. One could quibble with the episode selection here, but it's great to have Drew back on the job, or at least on DVD. --Donald Liebenson