He’s back! Comedian Robin Williams is returning to primetime television for the first time in a starring role since Mork & Mindy. As great as he’s been in dramatic roles before, it’s when he’s able to let loose and be wacky and crazy that he’s in his element.
Williams pairs up with Sarah Michelle Gellar as a father and daughter duo in the new CBS comedy The Crazy Ones. They both work at an ad agency, Lewis, Roberts & Roberts. (They’re the two Roberts, if you couldn’t already tell.)
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The male Roberts — Simon — is larger-than-life. He’s out of control, in a way, and all over the place. He’ll pop out voice impressions left and right if given the chance — and even when it’s not appropriate. Certainly, behavior like this is uncalled for in the workplace, but fortunately for him, he’s the boss, so it’s all good.
Simon’s daughter, Sydney, the creative director of the agency, is the complete opposite of her father. She’s more of a pragmatic type of person. She has her head on straight and wants to deal with situations and problems in a realistic manner. Essentially, she’s level-headed, very unlike her father.
Because of their opposite personalities, I consider them to be the yin and yang of each other, polar opposites yet deeply connected. They are father and daughter, after all, and it’s nice to see when they can come together and be just that: a family.
Simon and Sydney may have their names on the building, but you couldn’t run it without hard-working employees. And there are three that are seen working alongside the bosses in the pilot. There’s Andrew, the art director. Based on the little I’ve seen so far, I don’t yet have a grasp on who he is as a character. But the other two I have more to say…
Zach is played by James Wolk, who you’ve seen on Mad Men, Political Animals and Lone Star. What I love about him playing this part is he has sky-high chemistry with Williams; they’re able to play off of each other fantastically. There are moments during the pilot when I wonder if they’re ad-libbing, such as when they’re singing a song at one point to Kelly Clarkson — it sounds like they’re making it up as they’re acting out the scene.
Sometimes a process like that can yield the best results, especially when you have a comedian as talented as the Robin Williams. And then when you add Wolk into the picture, he’s not too bad himself, of course.
I’m hoping that as this first season plays out, we get so many more opportunities for them to interact with each other, because I feel like I’m watching something magical happen when they play off each other like that. Chemistry is key on shows like this, so CBS may have found a winning formula pairing Williams not just up with Gellar, but with Wolk as well.
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And there’s also Lauren, who’s an assistant at the agency. I have to say, I really like her. I’m not all that familiar with Amanda Setton, but she’s hilarious in this role. The times I found myself laughing the most during the pilot were pretty much any time she did or said something. She’s kinda ditzy — okay, a lot. She laughs at almost everything Simon says, and it makes me follow suit because her laugh is hilarious sounding and she does it at inopportune times, which makes it all the better.
I can’t finish this review without mentioning one critical piece of the pilot: the Idol Queen herself, Kelly Clarkson. It’s been known for months now that she would be guest starring in the first episode. Now, what I didn’t know until watching it for myself was how integral and how visible she is.
What I mean by that is she elevates the show to a whole new level. It doesn’t mean the show is bad if you take her out of it, but to me, the scenes she’s in are the best, and I want her to be a series regular on The Crazy Ones. Call me crazy, but she’s a natural at this. I know she’s got that whole music career going on, but still.
In the premiere, she plays a fictional version of herself, and the ad agency is trying to lure her in to sing a jingle about meat so they can sign McDonald’s up as a client. (The first song she sings is so inappropriate, but because it’s Kelly, I would buy it in a heartbeat — if you haven’t seen it in any promos or trailers yet, I’ll refrain from saying more so you can experience it for yourself while watching.)
Another reason why I bring up the American Idol winner is because it looks like The Crazy Ones is going to be relying on big-name celebs to guest star. First, we’ve got Kelly Clarkson. And in upcoming episodes, you’ll also see Josh Groban and Brad Garrett. I just wonder what their intent is here. Because as I said, Kelly was the best thing about the pilot, and I hope the producers aren’t trying to bring in these stars to cover up for any weaknesses the show may display. That’s one of my only worries about this new comedy.
I can’t really say anything else that’s bad about The Crazy Ones. But I also wonder if Robin Williams’ schtick will get old and tiring to watch after a while — he’s got a personality that’s out of this world, and I love when he gets the chance to go all out and be his usual crazy and wacky self, so let’s hope he can keep it fresh and not make it a gimmick that turns off viewers who are watching him on a weekly basis.
But having said that, this has a lot of potential to be a great show. And I’m looking forward to seeing the road this show takes in carving out its own spot on the TV landscape. If they can also make sure that episodes without big-name guest stars are still just as strong and funny, then The Crazy Ones is a must-see comedy.
Will you be tuning in to watch The Crazy Ones? Are you excited that Robin Williams has returned to TV?
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(Image courtesy of CBS)