Monday, September 30, 2013

Pilot Review: The Crazy Ones

The Crazy Ones (CBS)
Premiered September 26 at 9pm

CBS has proven itself to be quite dependable in providing something that most networks now don’t: sitcoms with laugh-tracks. The success of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men,” “2 Broke Girls,” and “How I Met Your Mother” make the presence of this show, which isn’t filled with nearly as many blunt jokes or a laugh track, in its Thursday night lineup bizarre at best. Robin Williams returning to TV is a big deal, and, to a lesser extent, so is Sarah Michelle Gellar, whose one post-“Buffy” effort, “Ringer,” crashed and burned after just one season on the CW. Pairing the two of them, supported by familiar TV faces James Wolk, from “Mad Men” and “Lone Star,” Hamish Linklater, from “The Newsroom” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” and Amanda Setton, who departed “The Mindy Project” midway through its first season, seems like something that should be extraordinarily successful. What it is, instead, is a pale imitation of the corporate and advertising worlds as portrayed on “Mad Men” and “House of Lies,” and a general mess with no coherent focal point. Having a celebrity guest star as themselves in a pilot is never a fantastic idea, mainly because it detracts from the rest of the show and its regular protagonists. Kelly Clarkson added nothing but pulled too much attention away from Williams’ zany Simon and his eccentric daughter Sydney. Williams is all too unhinged and eager to slip into a Scottish accent, while Gellar is limited by the scope of her role. Wolk and Linklater are far less properly utilized than they were in their most recent TV roles, and Setton, while less irritating than she was on her last show, doesn’t add much either. This show is wild but not worth the adventure, and it’s best described as scatter-brained and unfulfilling.

How will it work as a series? Simon and Sydney are sure to clash as they did in this first episode on a regular basis, and that should prove entertaining most of the time, especially since they’re such different personalities. Let’s hope that McDonald’s is just an example client and that each episode won’t be star-studded and supported by a name brand. This show could be creative on its own, and I’d like to see it embrace its fictional nature more.
How long will it last? Premiering against “The Michael J. Fox Show,” this series easily won in the ratings battle. Its 9pm slot is extremely coveted, but CBS also demands extremely high results from its series. Williams being back on TV should be enough of a reason to keep this show on the air, and as long as people come back to watch episode two, I see this one having little trouble getting renewed.

Pilot grade: C

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