Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CBS Fall Pilot Review: The Crazy Ones - Premieres September 26; Phil Dunphy Takes Over the Santa Monica Pier

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The Crazy Ones - Thursdays at 9:00PM ET/PT on CBS
Premieres Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:00PM ET/PT


by Todd

Academy Award winner Robin Williams returns to series television in The Crazy Ones, a single-camera workplace comedy about a larger-than-life advertising genius whose unorthodox methods and unpredictable behavior would get him fired… if he weren't the boss. Simon Roberts is the head of a powerful agency, with the biggest clients and brands in the world, but even more important to him is having his daughter Sydney by his side. As his partner, Sydney is Simon’s exact opposite – focused, organized and eager to make a name for herself, but also too busy parenting her father, which she'd resent if he wasn't so brilliant at what he does. Joining them in the firm are the dashing and talented Zach; art director Andrew, who’s as hard-working as he is neurotic; and the beautiful and deceptively smart assistant Lauren. With his team and his daughter behind him, Simon continues to set the advertising world on fire, and it looks like they are definitely buying what these crazy ones are selling.

Cast Details:
Robin Williams as Simon Roberts
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Sydney Roberts
James Wolk as Zach Cropper
Hamish Linklater as Andrew Keanelly
Amanda Setton as Lauren Slotsky

Robin Williams (Simon Roberts) first gained attention as Mork from Ork in the hit television series Mork & Mindy.. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Good Will Hunting. He was previously nominated for Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society and The Fisher King.. His many other film credits include Popeye, Patch Adams,, Awakenings, Hook, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, One Hour Photo and Night at the Museum.

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Sydney Roberts) is best known for her iconic role as Buffy Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Most recently, she starred in and also served as the executive producer of The Ringer. Her many film credits include I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2, Cruel Intentions, Scooby-Doo and The Grudge..

James Wolk (Zach Cropper) joined the cast of Mad Men in the show's sixth season as junior account man Bob Benson. His other television credits include the miniseries Political Animals, Happy Endings, Shameless and Lone Star.

Hamish Linklater (Andrew Keanelly) is best known as Matthew Kimble in the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine. His other television credits include The Newsroom, The Good Wife, The Big C and Gideon's Crossing. He has appeared in films such as 42, Lola Versus, Battleship and The Future.

Amanda Setton (Lauren Slotsky) is best known to television audiences for her recurring role as Penelope Shafai in Gossip Girl. Her other television credits include The Mindy Project, Golden Boy, Blue Bloods and One Life to Live.



Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (airs Thursday, September 26 at 9:00PM ET/PT)

Simon must pull out all the stops and convince Grammy Award winner Kelly Clarkson to record a new twist on a classic advertising jingle for their biggest client.

In the pilot's opening scene, we meet Sydney and Andrew directing some kids in a cookies commercial. Zach talks to Sydney about a meeting with McDonald's executives. Simon boxes with a toy robot and is worried about talking to the executive, Hannah Sharples. Sydney starts the pitch before Simon arrives. He shows them a commercial from 1972 and says they should redo the spot with updated images and a new voice. They are given just one day to find the right voice - somebody who is famous. Sydney, Zach and Andrew have problems finding anybody who is willing to help them. Simon tells them that he is having drinks with Kelly Clarkson in Chicago. Simon and Zach make the trip to pitch the commercial to Kelly. However, Kelly tells them she doesn't do jingles and wants to change her image and talk about sex. After arriving back at the agency, Simon tells Sydney and Andrew that Kelly has agreed to the commercial. Sydney and company are surprised to hear Kelly's rendition of the song. They ask her to make it unsexy. Sydney is finally able to sell the song to Kelly after performing it for her in the cafeteria. The episode closes with Kelly singing the updated song. Simon and Sydney are proud of each other as they leave the office for the day.

Written by David E. Kelley
Directed by Jason Winer
Guest stars: Gail O'Grady as Hannah Sharples, Kelly Clarkson as Herself

Analysis:

The Crazy Ones marks Robin Williams' first regular television role since Mork & Mindy ended in 1982. The series was created by David E. Kelley who has brought audiences many critically-acclaimed television series such as Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Public, Boston Legal, and Harry's Law. Emmy nominated director Jason Winer, who has worked on Modern Family, directed the pilot episode. He also serves as an executive producer.

I've been a long-time fan of Robin Williams since his Mork & Mindy days. My initial thoughts when I heard that he was returning to television were that I would have preferred to see him in a multi-camera sitcom where he could perform in front of a studio audience and improvise. After viewing the pilot, I think this is the perfect vehicle and character for him. They allow him to do what he does best - be crazy. He does physical comedy, sings, dances and sashays, and performs wacky impressions and voices. Simon Roberts is just a charming and interesting character. The role was written with Williams in mind, so I would expect them to allow him to bring his real life background and events into the series. It seems he will be given plenty of freedom to be himself and improvise. The rest of the cast is strong and work well together as a team. Sarah Michelle Gellar has shown she is a talented and versatile actress. Williams and Gellar have an instant chemistry and a certain sweetness together. I thought Hamish Linklater was an underrated actor on The New Adventures of Old Christine, so it is nice to see him return to another CBS comedy as the neurotic Andrew. I wasn't familiar with Amanda Setton before seeing her here. She doesn't have many scenes or lines in the pilot, but I look forward to seeing her more. The biggest surprise and scene stealer to me in the cast is James Wolk. His scenes with Robin Williams and singing are very funny. They are almost like a father and son duo.

This pilot is well-written, well-acted, and well-produced. It's a fast-paced and crisp episode that wraps up neatly in around 20 minutes. There's a nice mix of comedy, drama and music. The production design is very good. The sets and shooting locations make it look like a real workplace. I like the large caricature painting of Simon above the elevator. There are just fun props to look for in the background. Another factor that adds to the realism is the mention of McDonald's and the display of their logo in the production meeting. It may seem like a bit of a commercial for McDonald's, but the companies who will be referenced apparently don't pay for being included and have no final script approval. The product placement for McDonald's reminds me of the film Mac and Me, but this episode is funny in a good way. Some of the highlights are the pitches and renditions of the song by the cast and guest star Kelly Clarkson. Clarkson is hilarious and delightful playing a version of herself that you've never seen before. Her sexed up version of the McDonald's song is wild. Due to the small size of the main cast, I would expect them to bring in many big name stars as guests. Josh Groban is scheduled to appear in an upcoming episode. Brad Garrett will also be appearing in at least two episodes as the co-founder of the advertising agency.


Conclusion:

The Crazy Ones was one of my most anticipated new comedies of the fall season. The pilot episode doesn't disappoint. It's slickly produced and entertaining. There's something for everybody in this workplace comedy. Robin Williams is back and makes a triumphant return to television. He puts the fun in funny. I can't believe that he is 62 already. He looks good and energetic here. Hopefully he can bring the same level of energy every week. The rest of the ensemble cast is a strong and likable one. I like the chemistry between Williams and Gellar as father and daughter. The tandem of Williams and Wolk also have some funny scenes together. It's pretty clear that the entire cast will enjoy working with a comedic genius like Williams on a weekly basis.

The star power of Williams and Gellar plus airing after the season premiere of the top-rated The Big Bang Theory should bring the pilot a large opening audience. It's a strong pilot that should bring people back for more episodes. This is a promising show that should only get better. The production team led by creator David E. Kelley are proven winners. CBS must have some faith in it to put it at 9pm following another rookie comedy in The Millers. It's an interesting strategy to bookend the two established sitcom hits in The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men around the two freshmen shows. This is the only single-camera comedy on Thursdays, but it should be a good fit and have mass appeal. It will be so nice to see Robin Williams again every week. It's been far too long since he's been on television. Somebody should have been offering him lead roles and the opportunity to bring his humor to the small screen. Get crazy with The Crazy Ones this fall on Thursdays at 9pm on CBS!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4.5/5
Funniness: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:00PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • CBS.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • The Crazy Ones Photo Gallery

    Preview:








  • For one day only Phil Dunphy's bench ad was available for your sitting and viewing pleasure at the Santa Monica Pier in celebration of Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season's arrival on Blu-ray/DVD. Currently, there 245 Phil Dunphy benches in Los Angeles County not including the one that will be on display in Santa Monica. The area included Claire and Phil Dunphy cut outs so that fans can take and share pictures of themselves with them by the bench. In addition to the benches, they also created a fun Twitter sweeps asking fans to post fun pictures of themselves sitting on a bench. If they tweet one picture to @FoxHomeEnt using the hashtag #ninjainablazer, they will have a chance to win prizes. The sweeps began Monday, September 23 and ends on Monday, September 30. Finally, if you have a moment, dial the number: 1-866-5DUNPHY. Phil Dunphy himself recorded two messages for all fans!

    This past weekend, Modern Family won an Emmy for Best Comedy Series, for the fourth consecutive year. And tonight the fifth season premiere will air on ABC with back-to-back episodes starting at 9|8c. Go Phil!


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

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    The Goldbergs - "An Itch Like No Other" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
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    Superstar - "Robin Williams" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    The new episode recounts his life through Robin Williams’ own voice, describing “the spark of madness” which defined his life. From his early days in the San Francisco Bay Area comedy scene to his meteoric rise on “Mork & Mindy,” the one-hour special explores the experiences that made Williams into a one-of-a-kind talent and reveals what gave voice to the characters in his mind. It also chronicles the creative force driving critically acclaimed films like “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society,” as well as fan favorites such as “Aladdin.” The special explores his personal struggles, including substance abuse and depression, and his battle with Lewy Body Dementia before his tragic death in 2014. “Superstar: Robin Williams” features interviews with famous comedians and actors who knew and admired Williams, including Margaret Cho, Howie Mandel, Lewis Black, Jimmie Walker, Paula Poundstone, Gina Hecht and Pauly Shore, as well as Barry Levinson, director of multiple films starring Williams including “Good Morning, Vietnam.” The program also contains interviews with Williams from the ABC News archives, in which he opens up about his life and the highs and lows of his distinguished career.

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    • Rami Malek (The War at Home) - Watch Rami on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
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