Pilot for new series headed by standup comic Drew Carey goes in for establishing working-class characters. All amiable enough folks, they could use sharper dialogue and fresher observations.
Carey and three friends gather at his house in Cleveland. Kate (Christa Miller) is the snappy-looking tomboy whose blatant talk isn’t as smart as writers Carey and Bruce Helford think it is. Oswald (deepvoiced Diedrich Bader) aims to be a deejay, and Lewis (lanky Ryan Stiles) is a janitor at a pharmaceutical company. The kitchen’s the meeting place to talk over activities , but the talk’s routine, the reactions predictable.
Carey’s in personnel at a department store, where he’s trying to hire a woman for the cosmetics counter. Approached by bitter, job-seeking Mimi (Kathy Kinney), he gets in hot water for not handling her interview well. Happens Kate’s out of a job, and she wangles him into hiring her.
Carey’s affable, and some of the stuff is funny. But a car-pool seg doesn’t work, and the talks around the kitchen are ho-hum — at least in the opener. Michael Lessac’s direction, though, is inventive, and Carey seems comfortable slung between “Ellen” and “Grace Under Fire.”
Future depends on stronger verbal sallies among the principals and on giving them something to do other than parley; opening sequence in a bar is a hopeful sign of things ahead.