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Drew’s Odd Departure

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Remember Drew Carey? Until recently he was a superstar, the pride of Cleveland, the focal point of two ABC shows, the coolest dwid around. His show is about to enter its final season – in the summer:

    The finale of “The Drew Carey Show” is expected to air on ABC sometime this summer.

    ….Smart and stylish – a blue-collar comedy set in Cleveland where the principals would occasionally break out into a show tune – Carey’s show once was one of ABC’s crown jewels. In the 1996-97 season, it averaged 17 million viewers, the first of three straight years in Nielsen Media Research’s top 20.

    The show’s popularity was fading in 2001, but it still seemed savvy when ABC reached a deal with Warner Bros. Television, the show’s producers, to keep it on the air through 2004.

    Then the bottom fell out.

    It’s not clear whether viewers simply tired of the amiable, bespectacled comedian. Between his own show and “Whose Line is it Anyway?” he logged a lot of face time on the network.

I think this is the real problem – Carey is far too much of an anti-charisma figure to be in front of the public that much. He always looked like he was falling asleep on Whose Line Is It Anyway.

    Or they may simply have tired of trying to find “The Drew Carey Show.” The program premiered on Wednesday nights, an evening where it has inhabited four separate time slots. It’s also been shown regularly on Tuesdays. And Thursdays. And Fridays. And Mondays.

    By the middle of last season, ABC took it off the air, and burned off many of the show’s episodes during the summer.

    ABC didn’t even bother putting it on this season. New episodes will premiere on June 2, and the network will show two first-run episodes a week during the summer – the television equivalent of an afterthought.

Of course it isn’t the “afterthought” it used to be, what with reality shows coming and going year round and Fox bragging about “revolutionizing” TV by staring the new fall schedule – in June.

But anyway:

    This would seem to be a deal ripe for a renegotiation: ABC agrees to pay Carey and Warner Bros. a tidy sum to go away, and forget the final season.

    Nobody at ABC or Warner Bros. would talk about whether that idea had even been broached. There’s probably a financial incentive for Warner to continue production since the show is popular in syndication – where the real money is made in television – and this just gives them more episodes to sell.

    So it means the final season of “The Drew Carey Show” is produced in a virtual vacuum. Few people knew when, or if, the episodes would make it on the air.

    It’s still a lucrative vacuum: Carey reportedly made $600,000 to $750,000 an episode.

    ….Producers had a little fun, took some chances. Parts of some episodes were shot in a single-camera format, without an audience, instead of the three-camera format before a live audience seen on most sitcoms.

    Longtime fans will enjoy watching the journey taken by some of the characters during the final season. Carey must decide whether or not to marry his pregnant girlfriend in the show’s final episode.

    ….The end had to be bittersweet, particularly compared to this week at NBC, where the “Friends” cast is exiting with a paroxysm of national mourning and $2 million-a-pop commercial spots.

    “It was strange,” Simon said. “It was really strange.” [AP]

The show isn’t even listed on the ABC site.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com Craig Lyndall

    This is what happened with The Family Guy too. A great show that got screwed by an audience who couldn’t find it among the big games of musical timeslots that fox put it in. So then the show gets on the Cartoon Network and the DVD’s sell like gangbusters, and now word has it that they are producing a new season. It isn’t life after death. It is a rebirth.

    More proof that sometimes these TV guys just screw up the jewels they are handed.

  • http://halfbakered.blogspot.com mike hollihan

    Thanks for this, Eric. I had thought the show was gone forever down the “hiatus hole.” Nice to know I’ll see the last of it after all.

    I will say that I think the show’s turn to the bizarre-for-Drew’s-amusement-sake turn of the show a few years ago was when I started to like it less. When it was “blue collar comedy” about a working guy who can’t get ahead and all his screw-up friends, it was a whole lot funnier. To me at least. But the last broadcast season’s “girlfriend of the week” cameos were great fun.

    Someone should still bring back an improv comedy show like WLiiA. Less repetition of bits, more guest/stunt stars and rotating cast members for freshness. (Not as a game show, though, like Quik Witz. Ick.) They’re cheap to produce and easy to make. They’re really, really funny with the right people (ie Wayne Brady). And there are tons of improv comedians all across the country waiting for a chance….

  • Eric Olsen

    Thank you Mike, twice a week through the summer should be an interesting way to go out. I bet Drew will be back – he probably needs some time to recharge.