Capitalizing on one of the coolest jobs as seen on television in recent years and named after one of the late Steve Jobs’ famous quotes on innovators, CBS’s new comedy, The Crazy Ones starring Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar, depicts the inner workings of an advertising agency. Williams plays cooky ad exec Simon Roberts, whose unorthodox ways have made him a huge success and yet still terrify his more conventionally-minded partner/daughter, Sydney Roberts (Gellar).
The pilot reveals that the Roberts ad agency is on the verge of losing one of its biggest contracts, which happens to be with McDonald’s. Acting with his usual impulsive ingenuity, Simon convinces the McDonald’s executives to give them another chance at rebranding by promising to evoke the family sensibilities from decades ago delivered by a famous and powerful voice. With the help of confident, charismatic copywriter Zach Cropper (James Wolk), Simon convinces Kelly Clarkson to work with them on a song to sell burgers. The only catch is that Kelly, who doesn’t do jingles, is on a rebranding mission of her own and she insists on singing about sex. Using an old marketing tactic, Simon and Zach humor Kelly by allowing her to sing what she wants then “pivoting” or steering her back to singing about McDonald’s meat. When Kelly catches on, she walks out of the recording, but Sydney manages to appeal to her by emphasizing the old family values and togetherness they’re trying to revive in their ads. With a balance of different kinds of craziness, the agency secures its contract and its legacy.
It’s definitely good to see Robin Williams active and as sharp in his comedic presence as ever. Chock-full of his famed impromptu impersonations and wacky voices already, it’ll be interesting to see how his stand-up routines will be adapted into more of a sitcom setting. So far the chemistry between Williams and Gellar as father and daughter believably conveys a relationship of checks and balances and can only get better with further development. Of the supporting cast, James Wolk shows some early promise, fitting in quite well as the charming and slightly crazy young protégé to Simon. Given the fast-paced nature of Williams’ brand of comedy, the show should be light and quick enough for a good deal of entertainment.