Friday, September 27, 2013

Mork and Buffy: A Look At The Crazy Ones

CBS' new advertising sitcom, The Crazy Ones, was promoted as the return of two TV icons, Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. While Williams decided to go back to his roots after a long movie career, Gellar wants to prove that she's more than someone who battled vampires in the late 1990s. Either she'll be able to keep up with the quick-witted Williams, or wind up as the next Pam Dawber.

It's also the comeback of David E. Kelley, best known for L.A. Law, Boston Legal, and Ally McBeal. This show looks like trying to pack a typical episode from either of these shows in 30 minutes.

It begins with Gellar as ad creative director Sydney Roberts auditioning with her assistant Zach (James
Volk), hoping to find the right kid for a cookie commercial. When she gets back to the office, she discovers that McDonalds wants to fire the agency. Her dad and agency partner Simon Roberts (Williams) should be there to convince them to stay, but he's busy battling a life-sized Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot. She winds up knocking the robot out, and tries to get Simon to focus and not tell jokes that make the staff laugh. That's supposed to show she's the responsible one.

However, Simon is no fool....all the time. He comes in and tells the McDonalds ad guys about how he and Sydney used to share a Happy Meal when she was young. On the spot, he decides to update the "You Deserve A Break Today" ad. Great idea, and he'll promise a famous voice. OK, the McDonalds people say. He has until tomorrow.

The first half is dominated by Williams and Volk. They try to convince Kelly Clarkson to sing for the new ad, even though she says she doesn't do jingles. She'd like to do a sexy song, and Simon and Zach come up with one. Williams and Volk make a pretty good team, except Gellar is supposed to be the other half of that team. So far, she stands around looking worried. When does she become funny? At least Dawber got in some good jokes on Mork and Mindy. Anyway, Clarkson has her own sexy hamburger song, but when she senses they're really trying to make her do a jingle, she walks out.

Finally we get a scene between Gellar and Williams. Of course, he does the funny stuff (even imitating a tribal elder) while she doesn't. They are the new Mork and Mindy, but Gellar can do more than react to his lines. It also shows Kelley is making a sitcom as a shorter version of one of his dramas. It doesn't work because we're still waiting for Gellar to be funny.

She finally gets that chance when she tries to convince Kelly that "You Deserve a Break Today" isn't a jingle for an idea of a family getting together. Ironically, Sydney does this while Kelly is with her family at a local restaurant. Kelly then dares Sydney to sing the song, once more with feeling. Sydney's singing isn't as smooth but it's sincere, and it convinces Kelly to do the commercial. Sydney is her father's daughter after all.

It is great to see Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar back on TV, but Kelley has to understand how to tell a good and funny story in 30 minutes, not an hour. He should also know Williams is good in drama as well as comedy. He doesn't have to be goofy all the time. That was so 1976. Gellar, again, should be responsible but be able to be off the wall to keep up with WIlliams. We'll give it more time, but the show still needs some work to be so crazy that it works as a successful sitcom.

Ratings report: The show clobbered everyone at 9 PM, even Michael J. Fox, Glee and Grey's Anatomy, with more than 15.6 million viewers. However, that was helped by the return of Big Bang Theory, which was number one on the night. Expect those numbers to fall when The Millers take the 8:30 time slot. If it stays close to Grey's, and the shows balances Robin and Sarah better, we will call it a comeback.

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