Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday! Coverage of 3rd Rock From The Sun will commence in a few weeks, but in the meantime, I’m excited to set the figurative table by resurrecting another entry from this blog’s nearly decade-long run. Here’s how it works: I’ll provide a link to a piece that I first published many seasons back, and then I’ll offer a bit of updated commentary. But, as I always caution, please be gentle; this early article is from a long time ago, and my standards have changed as I’ve changed — I’ve improved as a thinker, a communicator, and a television-watcher.
So, let’s revisit… The Ten Best THE DREW CAREY SHOW Episodes of Season Two: https://jacksonupperco.com/2018/10/30/the-ten-best-the-drew-carey-show-episodes-of-season-two/
In our second look at the 1990s, we’ve studied a handful of sitcoms that I would consider to be broader than this era’s baseline, such as Martin, which boasts a sketch-like ethos and cartoony caricatures, and The Nanny, a winking burlesque with larger-than-life, theatrical leads. They are in contrast to fare like the naturalistic Roseanne and the hyper-realistic Seinfeld (which eventually came to fetishize a complex, stylized story structure that subjugated honesty, often conflating narrative credibility with trivia and metatheatricality). But such broadness — ridiculousness, disconnected from literal realism — was not necessarily out-of-place in the 1990s either. For instance, we’ve similarly seen a sketch-like ethos with cartoony caricatures on the satirical Married… With Children and enjoyed the winking burlesque of larger-than-life theatrical leads on Will & Grace. In fact, as cable began to expand the television market (and even more broadcast networks emerged following the slow triumph of FOX), there was more of EVERY type of sitcom, with more variety than the genre had ever known. (This is a trend that really started in the late 1980s but has increased every decade since.) However, I’m focusing now on some of the 1990s’ broader hits, because we’re about to examine two more that I would put in this category — the high-concept 3rd Rock From The Sun, a supernatural “alien” comedy in the grand tradition of My Favorite Martian and Mork & Mindy, and the slapsticky Cybill, a Chuck Lorre sitcom with a penchant for big physical set pieces à la The Lucy Show or Laverne & Shirley, but with more of this era’s post-modern self-referentialism as well. We’ll talk much more about both in the months ahead, but in the meantime, I want to call back to another of the mid-’90s broader efforts: The Drew Carey Show, a quasi-workplace and “hangout” sitcom that embraced many trends from this decade while also incorporating an improvisational spontaneity and “anything can happen” sensibility that was unique for its time and lots of fun to watch, especially here in its peak second season, which I urge you to check out (if you haven’t already).
Come back next week for a new Sitcom Tuesday! And stay tuned tomorrow for a Wildcard!