The Crazy Ones Will Not Make You Laugh But It Might Make You Cry
Robin Williams in his first teevee role since “Mork and Mindy”?! Maybe he will redeem himself and not go all Mrs. Doubtfire Patch Adams wacky loving friend on us? Maybe it would be coked-out-stylee Robin Williams? That would be dope. Also, too, Sarah Michele Gellar? She’s good. Really good. But she’s had terrible roles since “Buffy” and comes across as positively brittle these days, as opposed to kickass. Please let her be kickass. Crazy coke Robin Williams, kickass SMG. They run an ad agency, so there’s lots of room to behave badly. OK, “The Crazy Ones,” let’s do this thing.
Oh no. Show starts with Adorable Child Montage and this does not bode well for cutting-edge-funny teevee. Oh no. Robin Williams’ first appearance is fighting a larger-than-life Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robot and being bad-impression-doing Robin Williams. Oh no!
SMG’s job is to stop Robin Williams, her dad, from bringing the wacky while everyone else in the agency, they LOVE the wacky. But the wacky is nothing but a disguise to mask dad’s critical lack of confidence as an ad man. Tears of a Clown, yo. When he’s on, he’s on. He’s unpredictable because he’s wacky, yet sad.
Worse, it is clear from the outset that this show is going to be nothing but one looonnnggg product placement dealio, which probably means that there will be no mocking of the things they have to sell. Obviously, “Mad Men” can get away with talking smack about the now long-gone brands of yesteryear like Lucky Strike, but “The Crazy Ones” probably isn’t going to get an opportunity to trash McDonald’s (this week’s star).
The show is also going to be a vehicle for stars to show up and be the spokescritter for each ad and get exposure dollars and real dollars. This week, it’s Kelly Clarkson, who wants to change her image by singing about sex. Kelly Miley Cyrus Clarkson, sort of. This leads to another patented you-can’t-get-Robin-Williams-to-settle-down thing where he has to go all wacky again, which leads to a bit about sexy ketchup. Yes, sexy ketchup.
Kelly Clarkson agrees to record a sexy song about meat while crawling all over the obligatory male lothario employee who can apparently get any lady in bed. There is literally no character in this show who isn’t just a character from another show and the ENTIRE SHOW is about making a commercial for McDonald’s.
Every time the show lags, Robin Williams does another impression, and Sarah Michelle Gellar has to stop him with varying degrees of gentleness. The impressions range from irritating and out of place to … really sad, actually. It’s a pale pale pale palimpsest pale of “Mork and Mindy” and every time he does it, you just miss the manic joy he brought to that long-ago role.
Sadly, the show also highlights Gellar’s complete lack of comedy timing. With Whedon at the helm for “Buffy,” she could be both dry and a bit ditzy, but here they’ve got her doing big broad humor, and she’s just not up to it. A bit where she has to humiliate herself by climbing on a restaurant table to sing in order to get Kelly Clarkson to do the McDonald’s ad (dance, monkey, dance!) is just embarrassing and you wish she would stop. I can’t think of a role more ill-suited to Gellar than one where she’s got to loosen up to be just like dear old dad, complete with physical table-climbing antics.
Do they get the McDonald’s ad done? Do they get Kelly Clarkson to sing some McDonald’s jingle from 1972? YES OF COURSE THEY DO, so you’re treated to even more McDonald’s.
The show also revolves, visually, around a giant painting of Robin William on the wall of his agency, because that’s not weird or self-indulgent AT ALL.
The picture represents the old confident Robin Williams, and plucky Sarah Michelle is sure he’s still that guy, or can be that guy or something. That end note — the “you can do it, dad” part — is supposed to be touching, but is really just pathos-laden, because Robin Williams really can’t do this anymore.
After the credits, there’s one last thing to make you cringe. Yes, there’s outtakes, because of course there are outtakes, because there are famous “Mork and Mindy” outtakes where the cast is cracking up too hard to keep working. The outtake here is yet ANOTHER bit highlighting both McDonalds and Kelly Clarkson but oh no Kelly Clarkson is laughing too hard!
Final verdict: maybe if you never saw “Mork and Mindy,” you should watch this for at least a few episodes, because at least you’ll be free of the wistfulness. But if you ever ever saw Williams when he was funny — like really really funny, like no one else was that physical and funny — then you won’t want to watch because it will just make you sad.