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'The Crazy Ones': Star Vehicle Without Brakes or Steering Wheel
September 26, 2013  | By Ed Bark  | 4 comments

The Crazy Ones
may not be fall’s worst new comedy series, but its premiere episode easily is the biggest underachiever.

CBS has grouped Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar and long-accomplished producer David E. Kelley (Picket Fences, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal) in an ad agency sitcom whose truth-in-packaging slogan easily could be, “Watch us all fall on our (familiar) faces.” It premieres tonight on CBS, 9 p.m., ET.

William, starring in his first TV series since Mork & Mindy, is all over the place as semi-mad adman Simon Roberts. He’s first seen trading punches with a giant-sized Rock ‘Em Sock ’Em Robot, which unfortunately is unable to kayo him. Simon instead is more or less pulled away by his daughter Sydney (Gellar), the Chicago-based agency’s hard-pressed creative director. She informs him that their biggest client, McDonald’s, wants to fire them.

The rest of this very loosely stitched half-hour comes off as a combination product placement ad/improv sketch. In a recent interview session with TV critics, the producers noted that Williams’ character is drawn from real-life adman John Montgomery, whose biggest make or break client in fact is McDonald’s.

Arch rival Burger King won’t be amused. Nor likely will viewers be during the course of a “storyline” in which Simon very unconvincingly sells a no-nonsense McDonald’s representative (guest star Gail O’Grady of NYPD Blue fame) on an updated “You Deserve A Break Today” campaign fronted by a big-name vocalist yet to be determined.

But Jennifer Lopez “wants to be paid in diamonds,” Mariah Carey’s not interested, “Adele’s British and Pink threatened me,” laments agency art director Andrew Keaneally (Hamish Linklater). And besides, adds Sydney, “Last time I checked, icons don’t like to sing about meat.” Well, you learn something new everyday.

But maybe -- just maybe -- the agency’s meal ticket could be Kelly Clarkson. She just happens to be in Chicago, with Simon and right hand man Zach Cropper (James Wolk from Mad Men) impulsively joining her for drinks in hopes of making a quick sale. “I want to sing about sex,” she demurs.

“We just need to come up with a meat-related sex song,” Zach replies before he and Simon make a very painful attempt to jingle-ize on the fly. Viewers are supposed to be cracking up at this point. Not gonna happen.

Clarkson is game throughout, even if her motivations and subsequent pair of recording sessions (“It ain’t the meat, it’s the motion”) make no sense at all in anything remotely resembling the real world. Meanwhile, Williams keeps being Williams, alternately sticking to a script and screwing around while Gellar labors to play it straight. It all makes for quite a mess.

The opening episode comes up short of a 20-minute running time, even with some outtakes thrown in during the closing credits. It seems that all involved know there’s an enormous amount of work to be done for The Crazy Ones to be salvaged in future weeks. Maybe that could still somehow happen, although a McRib sandwich might have a better chance of making the cover of Bon Appetit.

GRADE: C-minus

Read more by Ed Bark at unclebarky.com

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Grant Wilson
I usually avoid all comedies as they are so forced. This one I loved. It was so Williams at his best. I totally agree with Bette. Gellar was a good casting choice as his daughter.
Sep 28, 2013   |  Reply
Bette Rice
If I'd listened to the advance reviews, I would have missed this loosey-goosey, silly & delightful show. All the leads were up to the apparently spontaneous interaction--what a break from tightly-wound comedies that are so slick they're oily. I loved it.
Sep 27, 2013   |  Reply
Doesn't anyone involved with this have any pride ?! It played like a mash up of infomercials for McD and Clarkson. The few decent comedic moments were drowned out by the discomfort of the actors. Really pathetic.
Sep 27, 2013   |  Reply
I agree with you, Ed, except for one small point. I suspect Burger King will be very happy, or at least relieved.
Sep 26, 2013   |  Reply
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