Pilots and Premieres – “The Crazy Ones” – Series Premiere

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The Crazy Ones.” currently airs on network TV, specifically on CBS, Thursdays at 9:00 PM.

What: “The Crazy Ones,” a situation comedy created by David E. Kelley (The Practice, Boston Legal) centered on a woman and her father who work for the same advertising agency and attempt to stay fresh and afloat in today’s corporate environment.

When: The series premiered on CBS, Thursday, September 26, 2013, at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in Chicago, Illinois, at the main characters’ fictional advertising agency, Roberts & Roberts.

Why: Robin Williams has returned to TV for the first time since his days as Mork from Ork!  I still find that man beyond funny; he’s a comedic genius, with a mind quicker than most and a comedic courage that surpasses most of his peers.  I would love to meet this man; that’s how much of a fan of his that I am.  What’s more – who’s playing his daughter?  None other than BUFFY HERSELF – Sarah Michelle Gellar, trying her hand at a sitcom after her previous series, The CW’s Ringer, was canceled due to poor ratings.  We know she can be funny because she delivered Joss Whedon’s and the other Buffy writers’ witty dialogue with panache.  The real question is how these two consummate professionals mix together.

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING.  HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing.  I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens.  There are things I like, and things I don’t.  We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes.  Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together.  No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys.  It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

The Crazy Ones = *****

SYNOPSIS

Robin Williams plays Simon Roberts, the owner and president of an advertising agency, who is facing the unique challenges of being further along in his career and wondering if he’s still got the creative spark and no-holds-barred ambition of his younger days.  Working alongside him as the agency’s creative director is his daughter Sydney (Gellar), who must reign in her crazy dad while attempting to prove to him that she’s got what it takes to work in the business.

THOUGHTS

The Crazy Ones is, in two words, uproariously hilarious, and that’s simply because head writer and executive producer Kelley has allowed Robin Williams to be Robin Williams. Though the veteran performer observes the confines of a script, he is given plenty of latitude to launch into improvised bouts of his trademark comedy, including the fast-paced, stream of consciousness joke-telling and voice impressions that have made him both unique and famous.  Equal to the task of playing his daughter and resident straight man is Gellar, who actually has convincing chemistry with Williams playing her dad, and has infused her Sydney with some of her own trademark line delivery reminiscent of her Buffy days.  The mixture results in several laugh out loud minutes in the pilot, and given that it’s just a pilot, this viewer has high hopes for the development of the series overall.

The show, in typical Kelley fashion, is also keyed into satire related to today’s corporate environment and even the advertising ploys used by major companies currently.  The plot of the pilot finds Simon and Sydney attempting to maintain their client relationship with the McDonald’s Corporation, which they are in danger of losing due to the fact that Simon used to be married to their head marketing executive.  In order to “wow” them and to maintain the business, which provides sixty percent of the advertising agency’s revenue, Simon promises (or over-promises, according to Sydney) McDonald’s a “family based” revamp of a seventies TV spot for the restaurant chain that made family the focus of the McDonald’s dining experience.  In so doing, Simon promises a big-named music celebrity to sing the old jingle.  He manages to score a meeting with none other than so-called “America’s sweetheart” Kelly Clarkson, who happens to be a tremendous bitch in this episode.  Though she refuses to sing jingles and wants to revamp her own image into one of “sex” (an obvious takeoff on the current Miley Cyrus debacle), Simon promises Clarkson the moon in an effort to get her into the firm to record, only to “pivot” her into the family oriented angle to which she was so adverse.  When Clarkson sees through the ploy and all but abandons the agency, with the potential of sinking their last “hail Mary” bid with McDonald’s, Sydney manages to “leap” and sell Clarkson on the idea of solidifying her image with a jingle that reaches the homes and ears of millions of Americans – by debasing herself in public for Clarkson’s amusement.  Still, she ultimately saves the account, impressing her dad in the process.

By the by, Sydney also mentions to Clarkson the reason she entered into advertising: to inspire.  The title of the show refers to the famous Apple ad, also called “The Crazy Ones,” from the nineties TV commercial featuring pioneers like John Lennon and Gandhi, as crafted by Steve Jobs, that was not aimed at selling any particular Apple product but at selling the image and idea of Apple at a time when Apple was struggling for relevance in the wake of the growing success of rival Microsoft.

RECOMMENDATION

The Crazy Ones is recommendable to anyone who finds Robin Williams funny.  He’s the fulcrum around which the success of this show rotates, so if you find him annoying, irritating, or unfunny, stay away from the program.  If you enjoy him or Gellar in her funniest moments, this sitcom is a win-win and a hit in every measurable respect.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW:

Too early to tell.  The pilot enjoyed the highest rating for a pilot this fall (even over Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and scored second among the viewers aged 18-34 demographic.  The show will likely be picked up for a full season, but series are produced in 13 episode increments, typically.  Let’s see how it fares.

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