What's the worst business decision ever made? Was it Coke's 1985 move to replace Coke with "New Coke"? How about Decca records? They passed on a group named the Beatles in 1962. In 1920, the Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the rival Yankees so the team's owners could invest in a Broadway play named "No, No Nanette." Some fans think the Sox have been cursed ever since. And just what was ABC thinking when it signed a contract to broadcast "The Drew Carey Show" through the year 2004?
Don't get me wrong, I used to like "The Drew Carey Show," but that was a long, long time ago. When the series was launched in 1995, Carey's brash humor and hefty physique and the show's Cleveland setting and anti-yuppie sensibilities stood out in a sitcom field already teeming with "Friends" and "Seinfeld" clones. The show was a natural outgrowth of the "blue collar" comedies like "Roseanne" and "Grace Under Fire" that had made ABC the No. 1 network in the early 1990s. And, for a time, "Drew" did a good job of mining surreal humor from office-space shenanigans. It was a bit like the comic strip "Dilbert" come to life. And it was a hit.
But that, too, was a long, long time ago. In eight seasons of its existence, "Drew" has been overexposed, syndicated and underwritten. And Drew began playing host to "Whose Line is it Anyway?" about three times a week. For a time, Carey seemed as omnipresent as Regis Philbin and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." The cartoonish antics wore thin. How many dance routines could we stand? How stupid could Mimi's outfits and makeup get? Even the minor characters on "The Simpsons" have richer emotional lives than Drew and his pals. The fact that they all have dated and even married each other has helped run the show into the ground.
This season, Drew is a bachelor again, and he is hunting for a wife. Nobody cares, and few watch. When ABC replaced "Drew" with a "20/20" interview with Justin Timberlake last Monday, the ratings soared by more than 60 percent.
So, what will ABC do on Friday nights? They will give the people what they don't want " two episodes of "Drew." For what it's worth, here's what happens on "The Drew Carey Show" tonight: Drew falls for a gorgeous woman (A.J. Langer) with dangerous ex-boyfriends (8 p.m.); Drew hires a matchmaker (8:30 p.m.).
Tonight's other highlights
- Scheduled on "48 Hours" (7 p.m., CBS): A county clerk's lavish lifestyle and pricey possessions cause concern.
- Single women choose boyfriends based on how they decorate their apartments on the two-hour special "Love by Design" (8 p.m.).
- After the murder of a key witness, a murderer may go free on "Robbery Homicide Division" (9 p.m.).
- The hunt for a chronic child abuser on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (9 p.m., NBC).
- Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): an interview with 23-year-old pop singer and former "Moesha" star, Brandy.
- A high school student (Kirsten Dunst) finds herself "Fifteen and Pregnant" (8 p.m., Lifetime) in a 1997 made-for-TV crisis drama.
- Syd is assigned to a pregnant convict (Lauren Holly) on "Providence" (7 p.m., NBC) ... Hostile aliens accuse River of sorcery on "Firefly" (7 p.m., Fox) ... Tom Bergeron plays host to "America's Funniest Home Videos" (7 p.m., ABC) ... Holly makes a match on "What I Like About You" (7:30 p.m., WB) ... Sabrina trips over a leprechaun on "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (7:30 p.m., WB).
- Mike uncovers police corruption that hits close to home on "Hack" (8 p.m., CBS) ... John may have fathered a son in his murky past on "John Doe" (8 p.m., Fox).