Fall TV Preview

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!

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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.

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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.