While the presence of Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar in a room together is enough to pique people’s interests, the first reassuring aspect of watching the pilot for “The Crazy Ones” is the supporting cast. With all-stars from some of the most talked about shows still on the air, including James Wolk (“Mad Men”), Hamish Linklater (“The Newsroom”) and Amanda Setton (“The Mindy Project”), the show’s cast is strong across the board.
“Crazy” focuses on the visionary ad agency run by Simon Roberts (Williams) and his daughter Sydney (Gellar). While the pilot starts with Sydney casting children for a cookie commercial, the real conflict is that McDonald’s, the agency’s biggest client, is planning to fire the Roberts’ based on Simon’s recent eccentricities.
Simon, however, saves face with a great pitch to McDonald’s involving a catchy jingle. Now the ad agency seeks an international pop star within 24 hours willing to sing it. Enter Kelly Clarkson, as herself, who wants to sing a sexy song rather than a simple jingle. This request gives the agency a new goal, as they strive to portray the wholesome McDonald’s brand while complying with Clarkson’s request.
Wolk serves as one of the pilot’s highlights as the agency’s resident charmer. Whether flirting with the head of marketing at McDonald’s or grinding and dancing on Clarkson during their recording booth session, Wolk manages to woo audiences whenever he’s on the screen
Williams guarantees wacky antics and voices. And for Gellar, Sydney’s heroism clouded by neuroses is a familiar persona. Some of these typecasts work, but seeing Setton play the same gum-chomping, doe-eyed, administrative worker with a “New Yawk” accent is a shame — and too similar to her role on “Mindy.” Hopefully she will have a bigger role here than she did on that show.
At its worst, “Crazy” comes off like a half-hour advertisement for whatever the agency is selling, with the actors playing caricatures of their former roles. On the flip side, CBS finds a way to harness the immense talent packed into one show to deliver a fun and fleshed-out workplace comedy. The end-of-episode blooper reel is probably the funniest part of the show. But even with a not-so-perfect pilot, CBS might eventually have a hit on its hands. For a pilot called “The Crazy Ones,” CBS played it pretty safe, but it is hard to deny the appeal of Mork working alongside Buffy.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 26 print edition. Marcus Jones is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected]