Last night on The Crazy Ones we had the triumphant return of Robin Williams to network television after over 30 years, or at least that’s what CBS wants you to believe (and with those ratings they’re kind of on the money…and in the money). Staring in a David E. Kelley scripted show about a father and daughter advertising team, Williams does voices and gets manic (aka his usual schtick), but does it all add up to a success?
Williams stars as Simon Roberts, a legendary ad guy who now works with his daughter Sidney (Sarah Michelle Gellar). It’s a father daughter show, but what’s nice is that they don’t hate each other…at least not yet. In fact their relationship is based on mutual admiration and love for one another, which I have to admit is one of the few bright spots in this pilot episode.
My issues with the pilot is that it is jam-packed with so many things that we don’t get a chance to get to know anyone. I haven’t watched all of Kelley’s shows (I was an Ally McBeal fan and for a short while I enjoyed Boston Public), but my experiences with those shows suggests that the hour long format suits Kelley’s style much better. His tendency to mix drama and humor while adding his well known “quirks” play out better over a longer timeframe. When truncated to 30 minutes, the moments don’t add up to a cohesive whole – in fact they sometimes feel jarring. But this is nothing that can’t be smoothed out as the show progresses and finds its groove.
As for Williams, the jury is still out. While I’ve enjoyed his schtick in the past (seriously the Genie from Aladdin is a master class in voice acting and don’t even get me started on how enjoyable Mrs. Doubtfire is), in this episode his brightness seems dimmed. He looks burnt out and sad. While some of his improvisations work, when they don’t, they just land flat and heavy. I do have to single out Gellar here because she gets the unenviable role of being the “straight man” to Williams’ clown, but she appears up to the challenge. They both have great chemistry and that’s the major selling point in the pilot.
Rounding out the cast is the always charming James Wolk as Zach, and the adorable Hamish Linklater as Andrew, two of the agency’s ad men. They are both given some funny moments, but Wolk has the hard task of riffing off Williams. And God bless his adorable heart he manages to make it one of the funniest moments of the episode. ‘Drive Thru Lovin’ is seriously funny and could’ve been a great Loney Island sketch. Oh and Mindy Project’s Amanda Setton shows up as Lauren, the office assistance, but she is basically there simply so Simon can smell her hair. I’m glad she was able to find a more challenging character after leaving The Mindy Project last season <sarcasm> Like I said we really don’t get to know anyone.
- Kelly Clarkson shows up for a hot minute playing herself…or rather a bitchier and sexier version of herself. My only question is, where was Justin Guarini? And where is my From Justin to Kelly sequel?!?
- Also let’s be clear, Kelly, that was totally a jingle.
- During the opening credits, why does Sarah Michelle Gellar look like she belongs on The Californians instead of this show?
What did you all think? Will you stick it out for a few more episodes? Are you totally excited to have Williams back on TV? Or did the pilot leave you feeling a little disappointed? Sound off below.
The Crazy Ones airs Thursday nights at 9:30pm EST on CBS