Fall TV First Impression: CBS' The Crazy Ones

The Crazy Ones PreviewThe broadcast networks have almost 30 shows debuting this fall, including new sitcoms from Michael J. Fox and Sean Hayes, a new CW showcase for another Amell and Marvel-ous adventures for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

First up on our list….

THE SHOW | CBS’ The Crazy Ones (Thursdays at 9/8c; premieres Sept. 26)

THE COMPETITION | Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), Glee (Fox), Sean Saves the World (new, NBC) and Reign (new, The CW)

THE CAST | Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Wolk (Mad Men), Hamish Linklater (New Adventures of Old Christine) and Amanda Setton (The Mindy Project)

THE SET-UP | In a pilot penned by David E. Kelley (Boston Legal) and with Tracy Poust/Jon Kinnally (Will & Grace, Ugly Betty) on board as showrunners, The Crazy Ones stars Williams as Simon Roberts, the oft-riffing owner of a Chicago ad agency, while Gellar is his oft-exasperated daughter/creative director, Sydney. Wolk and Linklater play Zack and Andrew, other employees in vaguely definied capacities, while Setton is (of course, right?) their assistant. In the pilot, the team scrambles to save the McDonald’s account by lining up a “name” singer to update the “You Deserve a Break Today” jingle. Cue guest star Kelly Clarkson, as Kelly Clarkson!

RELATED | Fall TV Preview: TVLine’s Snapshot Guide to All the New Shows

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | Fact is, the Crazy Ones pilot has potentially one too many “one-off” factors going for it — a huge real-world account and a buzzy, heavily incorporated guest star — to afford an accurate assessment of a typical episode. I mean, what will the show look like when spinning a story about a smaller, less familiar client that doesn’t serve billions and billions? And when left to the core cast’s own devices without an extremely gung-ho (and, it must but noted, quite funny) guest star to bounce off of? What about when there’s a B-story to follow?

That said, there’s great promise here in a strong (if quaint) ensemble, warm chemistry between Williams and Gellar and, as CBS boss Nina Tassler foretold at the Upfronts (pre-Mad Men, natch), a breakout role for Wolk, as a playboy with a heart of gold. (But again, his “sexy” duet with Clarkson is the kind of noisy moment that trailers were made for, yet will be impossible to emulate on a weekly basis.) Tonally, the pilot was steadily amusing and delivered a couple of belly laughs (including one evoked by Williams and Wolk’s improv’d, R-rated McD’s jingle), with a touch of Modern Family-style fuzzies weaved in at the end.

RELATED | Fall Preview: TVLine’s Grid Showing What’s On When and Versus What!

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE With Grey’s entering Season 10, Glee in transition mode and TV icon Michael J. Fox’s NBC show not airing until 9:30, there are eyeballs to be had here for Mork, Buffy et al. As long as Williams’ off-the-rails persona remains well-modulated, Wolk is allowed to shine and newbie lead-in The Millers doesn’t drop too much of Big Bang‘s audience — and provided the show never again asks us to believe an ad agency would pitch McDonald’s a “Real Beef” campaign — CBS’ second Thursday comedy hour should open strong.

Watch a video preview for The Crazy Ones, then vote in our poll below.


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69 Comments
  1. C says:

    “while Setton is (of course, right?) their assistant.”

    Why “of course, right?”?

    • Rowan77 says:

      Perhaps a snarky comment to say, of course the only not-already-a-star female cast member plays an assistant, as opposed to having her as one of the creative team and a guy as the assistant?

      • No, it’s because she was Blair’s assistant in Gossip Girl and then Mindy’s assistant in The Mindy Project. That’s pretty much all she’s ever done.

        • Margie Rife says:

          I beg to differ Alan. She was amazing on One Life to Live as Kimberly Andrews. That’s where she showed her acting chops. I am a huge fan of hers.

        • Sarah OT says:

          I think the comment below mine about the actress also having been on OLTL misses the point – @Alan makes a good one! If she has played several assistants and is again, it makes sense to write what the author of this piece wrote.
          However… why so darn many comments about her & that line when we have Mork n Buffy to talk about?! Hello folks – this is Robin’s first role on TV since “Mork and Mindy”, that is *huge*! It really speaks to the quality of the project that RW, who i imagine can still make a lot of films found the script smart enough to return. And Sarah Michelle has been acting all of her life – she’ll be a cult TV star forever. So let’s talk about them and the show, not one person who had i think just the one line in the pilot.

    • DL says:

      Any comments on her performance and chemistry with the rest of the cast, TVLine? Really hoping she gets enough material in this to have her own “breakout role.”

    • Jellymoff says:

      Also, it could be because she played the assistant on “The Mindy Project” as well.

    • Sarah OT says:

      I didn’t understand that either, which usually means there is sarcasm involved. Not a fan of ‘the lowest form of comedy”
      Ugh sorry. Anyway – I was so looking forward to this show! Robin is just always so funny and i adore Sarah, was so glad to hear she’d be coming back to TV despite the cancellation of “Ringer”.

      Two problems for me tonight:
      1) CBS – you showed almost every single bit of tonight’s episode in your ads! So for me it felt..the strangest experience. I guess like i had seen it, but all out of order. I hope they’ll be more careful with promos in the future. I had seen the “i thought that was my name [on the door] twice”, “do you want to smell my hair”, “who here has slept with [whatever that guy's name was, Josh?]“, the *entire* bit with Kelly’s family at the restaurant, etc.

      2) Is there a back-story that i’m missing? I feel like there is or should be. Like i was 5 minutes late to the show.

      So watching the pilot wasn’t great fun, but i am not going to make any judgment about the show now. I will say they obviously have great potential and hope they don’t waste it. And I hope so much that they will write better for Robin!! He has so much more depth than a constant flow of cheap one-liners. If you know comedians in real life who are ALWAYS “on”? They make the nicest person want to slap her Mama.

      Looking forward with fingers crossed for next week!!

      • BTP2 says:

        I agree completely. My biggest problem with the pilot is that they had already shown us all the jokes already, although I loved the dynamic between Gellar and Williams.

        Btw, was that last comment about “slap her Mama” a subtle reference to Tim Hawkins?

  2. temponaut says:

    David E. Kelley is not the showrunner for this? Is this confirmed or a mistake in the review?

  3. Esaul says:

    This and Survivng Jack are the only two shows that have my attention. Will try others naturally.

  4. meme says:

    So is every episode going to be a 22-minute ad for some product like McDonalds? If so, count me out.

    • Aly says:

      McDonald’s is advertised in name only. I saw a big cut of the show and was actually surprised McDonald’s allowed it, even with the free publicity. The running joke is very racy, and McDonald’s branding is a bit more innocent. It’s not about the product at all, more of a commercial for Clarkson’s comedic chops than anything. The cast had good chemistry, but she really stole the show. Be interesting to see how it comes together without her.

      • meme says:

        How many times do they say “McDonald’s” in the episode? How many times does “You deserve a break today” get mentioned or sung? That’s product placement. That’s a 22-minute ad.

  5. Maki says:

    It has potential but my Thursday is already over crowded and IT’S GREYS TREMENDOUS LIKE ALWAYS.

  6. trainwreck says:

    I have said it before and will say it again:
    Love what this show’s all about (comedy, world of advertising), love the cast!

    BUT!! It’s opposite Grey’s! which is a must-watch TV!

    P.S: Am i the only one who sees a lot of similarities in this show and “Just Shoot Me”? Same father-daughter dynamic running a company – here the fashion world is juxtapositioned by advertising #JustSaying

    • JLK says:

      I agree. This does feel a little like Just Shoot Me, but the supporting cast doesn’t seem as eccentric as the folks on JSM. Good move since Williams is more cartoonish than George Segal to start with.

    • rowan77 says:

      The father/daughter workplace sitcom is not new, but also now used very often. This show is different in so many ways.

  7. Chicago Dan says:

    Going to be difficult to top Kelly Clarkson on this hilarious spoof. Can a show really jump the shark on E2? This one might do it. SMG is the perfect straight woman to RW. However, RW quirks are going to put off a big part of the audience. This might be the show that gets replaced by Mike & Molly at mid-season or sooner.

  8. Shannon says:

    The trailer was pretty good….just don’t know if I could watch Robin Williams schtick every week. A little of him goes a long way…Love SMG and James Wolk though. :)

    • rowan77 says:

      Williams has shown that he can temper the improv with real emotion and stellar acting. As long as the showrunners keep an open dialogue with him to make sure he does some takes as written (or close to it), it will be fine.

  9. Sarah says:

    Absolutely intend to watch. Big fan of Williams, Geller, and now Wolk (based on Mad Men). How can this not be a party once a week?

  10. Eric7740 says:

    WIll definitely watch!!! Love me my SMG and James Wolk!!! His guest stint on Happy Endings, turned me in a fan!!!

  11. JLK says:

    I find it funny that SMG is singing about McDs when she was sued by them when she was a kid for criticizing them in a BK commercial. Her career has come full circle or something. :)

    I really liked the trailer. I love the cast. I’m really looking forward to this one now.

  12. James says:

    “Boss, Secret Sauce, drive through lovin” LOL.
    that alone makes it worth a watch. as long as the let robin roam free with out letting get carried away (as he is prone to do) with the cast around him this has potential to be pure gold. can’t wait :)

  13. One of the best new comedies of the year. Robin Williams and SMG are true to their comedic chops and James Wolk is truly on top of his game but I don’t know if he’s returning to Mad Men for its seventh (and likely final) season.

  14. A says:

    that little jingle from Robin WIlliams and James Wolk at the table with Kelly Clarkson is the one thing that pulled me in and made me eager to check out the show. Hope its good but it does have some tough competition.

  15. Kristina says:

    Looks interesting enough to at least check out. How could you not with this cast?

  16. Ann says:

    Was this trailer sponsored by McDonald’s or something? It just seemed like one very long McDonald’s commercial instead of a preview…

  17. bobbie says:

    This is going to be so awesome. I loved loved loved every minute of the trailer.
    Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, what more needs to be said?

  18. Roger says:

    Once More, With Feeling. Loved the part with SMG singing. Looking forward to this.

  19. DramaMomma says:

    Ok, I am in. I had no interest in it until I watched the promo. I am officially willing to watch anything James Wolk is in!

  20. Joey says:

    The trailer looks, I’m interested to see it. James Wolk did great on Mad Men and Poltical Animals. I can’t wait to see him on the show with Robin Williams and SMG.

  21. DavidSask says:

    Is it true of reports that SMG is just horrid in the show?!

  22. Danielle's frenemy. says:

    James Wolk needs a break. Let’s see if this will last more than 1 season.

  23. nick1372 says:

    This looks really good. It’s my most looked-forward to comedy.

  24. Jenny says:

    Omg this video is hilarious!!!’ I love robin Williams and SMG AND Kelly Clarkson! This is a win!

  25. Tania says:

    It looks like a fun show I could enjoy. It’s too bad they put it up against Grey’s though. Grey’s will always come first for me. I’m in Canada though, so if I’m lucky CTV will pick it up and run it at a different time (they are the Canadian network that carries Grey’s).

  26. Will be there simply on casting (BTW if you love James Wolk in Mad Men check out Political Animals!) but I’ll have to wait and see if the story is worth sticking around for too.

  27. DeeKayTee says:

    Looks very cute! I’ll be watching!

  28. rockgolf says:

    “Crazy Ones” sounds like they took “Mad Men” (which also takes place in an advertising agency) entered it in a computer, translated it to Japanese then translated the Japanese back to English.

  29. Hope says:

    It is going up against Greys – then it has no chance. Greys has been producing jaw dropping good television for 10 seasons now. No way I am trading McDreamy and Calzona for Buffy and Mork. Sorry, maybe I’ll DVR it…

  30. Patrick says:

    Grey’s has had its run. Just like E.R got boring and dead, so is this happening to Grey’s and the ratings for Greys are dropping and dropping. Crazy Ones will do just fine

    • Hope says:

      Greys was the number one show for ages 18-49 last season (season 9) how is that dropping? It also won a People’s Choice Award. I hope Crazy Ones does well, I am just saying of all shows to go against Greys has a HUGE devoted fan base.

  31. ventura says:

    No big or even medium laughs in this trailer. Isn’t that the point when advertising a comedy?

  32. Olivia says:

    Will definitely give it a chance!

  33. Olive says:

    This looks god awful.

  34. Sokratis says:

    McDonalds actually has been advertising ‘real beef’ campaigns in Australia for over 5 years now…

  35. Britican says:

    This has a trifecta of actors I will always want to watch in Robin, SMG, and the dreamy James Wolk

  36. Lisa says:

    The more time Glee spends in Lima at McKinley the better this show will do! If Glee starts to focus on NYC then Glee’s ratings will pick up!

  37. Jay says:

    Love Sarah always have, the most beautiful women in Hollywood

  38. QueenB says:

    Gellar is bringing her a game! She makes Rob8n tolerable if not likeable by plating his daughter smart decision in casting and the dude from mad men is hot

  39. John M says:

    Was Robin ever REALLY successful on network TV?

    • Opinionmine says:

      A little something called Mork and Mindy… had three of four good seasons in the ratings. Was created after his one off appearance as Mork on the shark-jumped Happy Days. And the man won a Comedy Award and A Golden Globe and a People’s Choice Award for the role . Then there are the two Emmy wins and many nominations for his other TV appearances and successes of the Comic Relief Specials. So I would say the answer to your question is “yes”.

  40. TinLV says:

    I had no idea what this show was about until watching this preview, but now I’m at least hooked enough to give it a few episodes. Kelly’s guest star stint looks pretty awesome, but where does the show go next ? Will watch and find out. I love the cast..

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