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The Drew Carey Show - The Complete First Season


TITLE: THE DREW CAREY SHOW - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: April 24, 2007 (Warner Home Video)
Full Screen/Color/1995-96
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: Approx 489 minutes
Running Time of Special Features: 19 minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Closed Captioned
Special Features:
“Life inside a Cubicle”: Drew and his fellow series stars share reflections and anecdotes.


Introduction:

Cleveland Rocks! Well, at least, a 90s/2000s sitcom set in Cleveland rocks! I can’t vouch for the city, having never been there myself.

After a long and anxious wait by fans, the first season of The Drew Carey Show is now on DVD! All 22 first season episodes are now available -- for the first time -- on DVD. Warner Home Video put out a "Television Favorites" release of six episodes, including two season 1 episodes, "Pilot" and "Playing the Unified Field." Now you can own the other 20, plus...a special feature!

For those of you unfamiliar with the show -- The Drew Carey Show was a hilarious sitcom that ran on ABC from 1995 to 2004 -- Drew Carey was a lower-level white collar worker for the department store Winfred-Louder (and in the last 2 seasons, an internet-startup show -- but that’s still several seasons away). The Drew character was meant as a sort of "everyman" character -- though like Roseanne, the character and show turned into so much more. At work, Drew’s life is made an absolute nightmare by Mimi (Kathy Kinney) -- the secretary for Mr. Bell (in the first season) and Mr. Wick (in the rest of the Winfred-Louder years). Giving Drew a break from the nightmare and/or boredom at work is his friends -- Lewis (Ryan Stiles), a janitor at the pharmaceutical company DrugCo, Oswald (Diedrich Bader) -- at first a DJ but for most of the run a delivery driver for Global Parcel, as well as Kate (Christa Miller).


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

I’ll be honest -- I didn’t become a fan of the show until season three (Why season three? I don't know.), so I never saw the first two years in original broadcast, and with TBS never having aired the show at a convenient time for me, a lot of these episodes are new to me. The two episodes I do have a good deal of experience with are from the Television Favorites release from last year. From that review:

#1: "Pilot"
Guest Stars: Alaina Reed (Cred: Alaina Reed Hall, "227")
Drew's best friend Kate breaks up with her live-in boyfriend, who then fires her from her job as receptionist at his body shop. She pleads with Drew to hire her at Winfred-Louder, but he insists that he isn't supposed to give jobs to his friends. While conducting interviews for an opening in the cosmetics department, Drew meets Mimi Bobeck, a very hostile woman who wears a ton of make-up.

#18: "Playing the Unified Field"
Guest Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis ("Halloween," "Freaky Friday")
Despite his protests, Lisa tells Drew that she is going to start seeing other people. She urges him to do the same. He asks out his hard-living barber, Sue. She takes him to a strip club (to meet her mother), and forces him to defend her honor to a pair of guys twice his size at the Warsaw. Worst of all, she takes a liking to Mimi and offers to do her hair. Drew fears that he will not survive much longer.

However, what about the other 20 episodes on this set? I'm not going to tell you which you should and shouldn't like, because I haven’t completely made up my own mind on the matter. I DO have a list of guest stars though, so if you're a fan of any of these specific folk, you should definitely watch for their appearance -- I'm not always looking for "celebrities" in this section, more just people you'd recognize ­ and some you know that you don’t necessarily KNOW you know.

I mentioned the spots by Alaina Reed and Jamie Lee Curtis above. In addition, Julie McCullough (Julie from “Growing Pains”) appears in episode 2, “Miss Right,” as does Megyn Price, who a few years later would take on the role of Claudia in “Grounded for Life.” Julie McCullough would again appear in episode 6, “Drew Meets Lawyers.” Penn & Teller appeared in "Drew Meets Lawyers." Jenny O’Hara (“The Facts of Life,” “My Sister Sam”) guests in episode 7 “Drew in Court.” Episode 20, “Drew and Kate and Kate’s Mom” features Susan St. James (Kate & Allie, McMillan & Wife) as Kate’s mother. Episode 21 features Peter Krause, a few years prior to Six Feet Under, and one of my personal favorites, Sports Night. Moreover, if you’re a good kid, and if you pay really close attention, you might just hear the voice of Garfield the Cat -- AKA the late Lorenzo Music -- as the store announcer. In addition, in “The Front,” Tim Allen is stuck in Drew Carey’s tree in the opening.


Packaging:

This is amazingly a simple packaging and the standard for most TV DVD sets in the year 2007-- outer box, with two slim cases inside, each holding two discs. As much as I love nicely done packaging, if you’re not going all-out on design, a simple setup like this is perfect for TV DVD -- ease of access in removing the discs -- a glaring flaw with digipaks, and it looks respectable on the shelf. The front cover art features the season one cast posing in front of a generic dark/light green-striped background, with the season 1 logo and Drew-face above them. At the top is the “The Complete First Season” text, with the bars following the same shape but blue instead of green. This continues onto the spine, which is light green with blue on top, and the ‘1’ near top in a dark blue irregular box. On the rear, the blue takes up the top half of the back. The description text is on top, and below that is a photo of Drew without pants. Yeah. Drew is, err, resting on the row of still images that always accompanies the...err...rear art. The production credits and DVD details are below it, once again in front of the green background.

The slim cases don’t have “art,” as each side of the slim cases is devoted to the episode details on a disc in the slim case -- the font used wouldn’t look desirable scrunched up on just the rear, so they leave it at a readable size at the expense of cover art -- couldn’t they have just used a regular font? Anyway, the text takes up the full part of the cover art, in two columns, with episode number, title, credits, air date, and description. There are also miscellaneous photos on the set.

Amazingly, there ARE photos on the inside, behind the slim cases. This is baffling -- why not put the photo on the outside, and put the episode details on the side, BEHIND THE DISCS. Makes sense to me. Each disc is a different color and features a different cast member, each in front of the same dark/light stripe background, with the show logo at top, and the Disc number to the left.

Key:
Disc #: Color, Character, Episodes on Disc

Disc 1: Green, Drew, Episodes 1-7
Disc 2: Blue, Oswald, Episodes 8-11
Disc 3: Yellow, Lewis, Episodes 12-17
Disc 4: Pink, Kate, Episodes 18-22

The episodes-on-disc breakdown doesn't make a bit of sense. 7-4-7-4? Wouldn’t 6-5-6-5 spread out the episodes more nicely? Four episodes of a half-hour show on one disc is irritating, and I am not even worked up about things like that much anymore.


Menu Design and Navigation:

They’re the typical Warner TV DVD menus we’ve come to know and...to know. Still shot of the cast, using the same “style” as the outer box -- in this case the dark/light stripes. Theme plays in the background -- in this case the 0:42 rendition of “Moon Over Parma.” That’s the one nice touch Warner almost always includes in the menus -- which I appreciate. It doesn’t seem like it’d be a hard thing to add, but so many DVD sets seem to be absent this simple touch. Episode selection is a text-based menu to the right of a strip of stills, and can be accessed from the main menu. The play all feature is located on the main menu as well. The special feature is accessed here, by name, as well.


Video and Audio Quality:

I complained in the Television Favorites DVD set that the video looked “soft” in the early seasons’ DVD episodes, but I wasn’t sure If was just due to the low-profile nature of that DVD resulting in not much effort being made on a quality transfer, or if the master copy had aged. It looks like it is the latter, as the video on the DVD set matches that on the TV Favorites release. The colors also appear a bit faded. In addition, on discs 1 and 3 there are compression artifacts. Audio is a nice 2.0 stereo track. It is not glorious 5.1, but a show like Drew Carey doesn’t need 5.1. The runtimes on the two shared episodes are the same as well -- and all seem short, but by 1995 the axe on program time was already grinding away -- and new shows were being made to run shorter from the get-go. Still, even by THAT standard some of these are REALLY short, and have me concerned (see *). Chapter stops at the equivalent of commercial breaks.

Runtimes:

Disc 1:
Pilot: 22:16
Miss Right: 22:55
The Joining of Two Unlike Elements is a Mixture: 22:53 Nature Abhors a Vacuum: 21:55*
No Two Things in Nature are Exactly Alike: 22:56
Drew Meets Lawyers: 22:42
Drew in Court: 22:45

Disc 2:
Lewis’ Sister: 22:50
Drew and Mrs. Louder: 22:49
Science Names Suck: 22:32
The Electron Doesn’t Fall Far From the Nucleus: 22:30

Disc 3:
Isomers Have Distinct Characteristics: 22:40
Drew and the Unstable Element: 22:39
Drew & Mr. Bell’s Nephew: 20:57*
There is No Scientific Name for a Show About God: 21:47*
Drew’s New Assistant: 22:41
The Front: 22:40
Playing a Unified Field: 22:53

Disc 4:
Atomic Cat Fight: 22:10
Drew and Kate and Kate’s Mom: 22:37
Drew Gets Motivated: 21:47*
Buzz Beer: 22:39


Special Features:

Life Inside a Cubicle (19:01): “The first season was really about finding ourselves” -- interviews with everyone, including Diedrich Bader, Ryan Stiles, Christa Miller, Kathy Kinney, Drew Carey, and executive producers Bruce Helford and Deborah Oppenheimer. Fun Fact: When auditioning for Kate, ABC wanted to see Christa’s appearance on Seinfeld -- which hadn’t aired yet. Christa had to beg Larry David for the rough cut, drive it over to ABC, and show it to them (thus showing ABC an episode yet-to-be-aired of NBC’s biggest show) to prove she wasn’t necessarily too “green” (new) for the role).


Final Comments:

I’m somewhat concerned about the runtimes -- I feel like I’m saying that sentence more and more lately. Even if Drew DID have shorter runtimes from the outset, a sub-21 episode in 1995/1996 is just bizarre.

Since Warner DOES seem interested in doing special features for Drew, how about commentary, deleted scenes, or bloopers from the show for future sets -- all 3 would be wonderful additions. Also, work on the video side of the transfers.

From what I got to watch for this review, the first season is pretty good. The show really takes off, in my opinion, a bit further down the line, with the expansion of the side characters, and the introduction of Mr. Wick (played wonderfully by TV’s Craig Ferguson). I’d buy this set, if only to ensure future sets come out. Recommended, in spite of video quality issues.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 3/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 3/5
Special Features: 1.5/5
Final Score: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 04/23/07

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000MGBLFK/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=199295


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