Pilot Preview: The Return of Robin Williams in CBS's Single-camera Comedy The Crazy Ones

By Tim Surette

Jul 31, 2013

Hey you! This isn't a review, it's a PREview. Huge difference. Most notably, the "P." Also, these PREviews are based on early cuts of pilots that might change drastically by the time they officially hit the air, so we can't properly review them. But we CAN give you an idea of what to expect. In this series of early looks at the new shows of fall 2013, there's no contemplating, no deep analysis; just super-duper quick thoughts on what we just watched that we're passing on to you. We'll revisit each previewed show in the fall with the hyper-intellectual breakdowns and fart jokes you're used to from us goons here at TV.com. 

The Crazy Ones – Thursdays starting September 26 at 9pm on CBS

STARRING AND CREATED BY: Welcome to the Sarah Michelle Gellar's return to television! It's been over a year since Gellar last held a lead role in primetime. Oh, it's also the return of some guy named Robin Williams who hasn't been a television regular in 31 years. Meanwhile, Lone Star's James Wolk is giving the small screen another shot (won't someone help find the guy an established role already?), accompanied by Hamish Linklater (The New Adventures of Old Christine) and Amanda Setton (The Mindy Project) to round out the main cast. The Crazy Ones is a David E. Kelley's creations, making this the 1,045,837th show he's brought to television so far. However, I think this is his first half-hour comedy. 

THE GIST: A father (Williams) and his daughter (Gellar) are partners at a big advertising firm. He's old and zany, she's driven and practical. Clash! Clash! Clash! But together they figure out a way to get the deal done and keep the clients happy. 

SNAP JUDGMENT: Classic David E. Kelley, minus 22 to 24 minutes and lawyers or teachers. This time around, he's taking on the world of advertising, which kind of sucks the soul out of his previous works. I mean, at least the lawyers of Ally McBeal were often defending the little guy, and the teachers of Boston Public were dealing with the harsh reality of the public-school system. What irks me about The Crazy Ones is that the advertising industry, with its habit of bending over for corporations while chasing the all-mighty dollar, can be pretty disgusting (oh, here I go editorializing), but here it's portrayed as being full of mad creative geniuses who we're supposed to root for. Now, Kelley knows how to go after the heart, which gives this thing more weight than your typical sitcom, and Williams' more dramatic moments land well. But his tired, kooky goofball routine and the rest of the shlock are tough to sit through. Ultimately, people will probably like this. I'm just not one of them.

PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: The first episode does a dandy job showing us exactly what to expect from the series without botching the introduction of the main characters. There's no crazy concept to lay out; this is a show about people working in the ad industry. The Crazy Ones uses that to its advantage. It's almost as if this guy has written a lot of television before. The pilot gets a clean bill of health. 

FACES TO LOOK OUT FOR: James Wolk's singing face. And not in a good way!

RANDOM THOUGHTS: There's a post-credits gag reel showing Williams and Wolk riffing on an improvised jingle and it's even worse than the first cut. Make it stop! Also, this is a SINGLE-CAMERA COMEDY ON CBS! What is going on with the world!? Also also, the opportunities for product placement on The Crazy Ones just write themselves.

EXCITEMENT LEVEL: I'm going to look at this from a general perspective and put it just over the hump on the 1 to 10 scale with a 6. But I will be watching exactly zero more episodes.

(Where we rank the fall season's pilots based on very early impressions)

1. Almost Human - J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman's robotic buddy-cop drama

2. Intelligence - Josh Holloway stars as a Cyber Command agent who has Wi-Fi in his brain

3. Dracula - Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the fanged one in this re-imagining of the classic story of an undead guy chasing his old girlfriend

1. Trophy Wife - Malin Akerman marries into a big family and ends up with two ex-wives and three stepchildren in the process

2. The Crazy Ones - Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar are a father-daughter team in the advertising business

3. Enlisted - Geoff Stults goes to army reject camp with his two brothers 

4. About a Boy - Jason Katims' TV adaptation of the film adaption of Nick Hornby's novel about a man-boy friendship

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  • Lunalissa Aug 18, 2013

    Goodness gracious, this reviewer does not like anything. That is the problem with reading reviews, it is just one person's opinion of a show and just because they did not like it does not mean that everyone else will not like it. I think some of these look pretty good. Especially, About a Boy and Almost Human.

  • 2wksnotice Aug 01, 2013

    I saw the promo for this where Robin Williams smirks at the screen and says that the show isn't all about him. After the camera pans out to show he's standing in front of a giant graphic image of his own face, he smirks some more then says the show is kind of about him.

    It made me want to throw something at the screen.

  • Svanehjerte Jul 31, 2013

    I never get tired of his goofball routine. Robin is likable in everything he does. :) I also like Gellar so this sitcom is promising to me.

  • Eric10301 Jul 31, 2013

    I'm not really a David E. Kelley fan and I prefer Robin Williams when he plays a more even character. Williams' recent stints on Louie and Wilfred prove he's better as less zany and more normal character actor.

  • No1Slayerette Jul 31, 2013

    The problem with being a devoted Buffy fan is that I must watch everything Sarah Michelle Gellar is in, including this.

    Robin Williams brand of over zealous eccentricity does not appeal to me, and neither does Sarah Michelle Gellar playing the straight one who has to try and reel him in. I'll watch the first episode, but like you Tim, I doubt I be able to sit through another.

  • iheartfrosty Jul 31, 2013

    Eh, I'll watch for the cast but my most anticipated comedy of the season is "The Goldbergs", yea, I said it!

  • zeofan1 Jul 31, 2013

    Wow. How many people thought a show called 'Trophy Wife' would be the most anticipated comedy of the Fall?

  • Svanehjerte Jul 31, 2013

    According to those who write the article though. :)

  • zeofan1 Aug 01, 2013

    I trust the writers for the most part.

  • JT_Kirk Jul 31, 2013

    Oh shit, I didn't realize this was David E. Kelley, he's both great and awful with big talents and tone, I foresee a lot of speechifying by Robin Williams and then wacky behavior... Denny Crane.

    Sorry to hear Williams' material comes off tired, that's what really is the draw for me.

    What did you think of Gellar's work here? She's looked in every trailer like the weak link, like she doesn't' belong and has nothing positive to add to the material, and I notice here that you make very little mention of her.

  • WavSlave Jul 31, 2013

    Oh man, this one has given me a bad feeling since I saw the first ad for it, and that was before I knew it was a half-hour comedy.

    This and The Millers both look to me like a couple of high-profile, name brand duds from CBS.

  • Taccado Jul 31, 2013

    As DrSpongejr said, judging by the trailer, it's not funny. It might be sacrilegious to say it, but I've never liked Williams' style of comedy when he's trying to play an exaggerated character. He just goes overboard with it. The "kooky goofball routine", as you Tim put it, suits Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell, but when Williams does it (like e.g. in the trailer when he does his manic laugh or Scottish accent in the board room) he just looks like he is trying too hard. The same goes for his stand-up characters that so many seem to like. To me they are not funny. I guess I can give this show the four-episode test as long as Williams tones down his crazy routine. But I have a feeling that other parts of the show will not work either. Is Gellar really the best choice for a comedy? And the supporting cast doesn't seem to be the most interesting either.

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