Robin Williams in THE CRAZY ONES - Season 1 | ©2013 CBS/Cliff Lipson

Robin Williams in THE CRAZY ONES - Season 1 | ©2013 CBS/Cliff Lipson

Stars: Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Wolk, Hamish Linklater and Amanda Setton
Writer: David E. Kelley
Director: Jason Winer
Network: CBS, airs Thursday nights
Original Telecast: September 26, 2013

There’s something fresh and exciting about the new CBS comedy THE CRAZY ONES. It doesn’t quite look or act like any other comedy series out there, and it features the TV comebacks of Robin Williams (who hasn’t been a regular on TV since the 1980s with MORK AND MINDY) and Sarah Michelle Gellar (who will forever be tied to her signature role as BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER).

As created by David E. Kelley, THE CRAZY ONES is truthfully an hour long dramedy and not a half hour comedy, which is why the end result feels so truncated and brief.

There’s some great banter that Kelley creates with a series focusing on ad agency genius Simon Roberts (Williams) whose ideas are sometimes so out of the box it gets him into trouble. Wrangling him is his daughter Sydney (Gellar) who needs to find her own special box to create in as well.

The two of them form a strong father/daughter pairing – and at least Sydney doesn’t hate her dad, even though his eccentricities frustrate her. The first episode finds Simon, fearing for his job and having to come up with an unconventional McDonald’s pitch in order to keep the food giant as their client. This involves singer Kelly Clarkson in an amusing guest starring role (definitely playing outside her comfort zone) to come in and save the day.

The result is a half hour that doesn’t get to spend too much time on its existing characters and too little time finding ways to milk laughs. Williams can’t ad lib his way to success unless the framework itself isn’t completely sound, which it isn’t quite yet in this first episode. While there is promise in Kelley’s script, he’s trying too hard to cram an hour’s worth of character development and story into twenty minutes, and anyone familiar with his work knows it works so much better in the extended format.

Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar in THE CRAZY ONES | ©2013 CBS/Richard Cartwright

Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar in THE CRAZY ONES | ©2013 CBS/Richard Cartwright

That’s not to say THE CRAZY ONES is a complete failure. I liked parts of the show and it’s nice to see both Williams and Gellar playing off each other. James Wolk is also quite good as Zach, who is a great foil and someone who seems to be able to keep up with Williams off-the-cuff ad libs.

THE CRAZY ONES is an odd fit on CBS. It doesn’t really fit snugly in between its other Thursday night shows THE BIG BANG THEORY and TWO AND A HALF MEN and next week’s companion show THE MILLERS, but maybe different is good. It’s not great, but, it’s definitely a work in progress worth checking out a few more times to see if Kelley can finally get the half-hour mix just right.

Related: Interview with THE CRAZY ONES star Sarah Michelle Gellar

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Article: TV Review: THE CRAZY ONES – Season 1 – “Pilot” – Series Premiere

 

 

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