Last night’s premiere of The Crazy Ones marked the return of the Academy Award winner to TV since his last serial stint on Mork & Mindy. The pilot was watched by 15.6 million viewers, earning a 4.0 rating in the key 18-49 demographic, making it the fall’s most-watched new show.
The Crazy Ones is set in a Chicago advertising agency run by William’s ad genius Simon Roberts, with his partner and daughter, Sydney, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. The two are complete opposites. Simon is a funny, unpredictable, roll with the punches kind of guy, while Sydney is more focused to succeed and make a name for herself. I’m looking forward to seeing how this dynamic plays out in upcoming episodes. Working alongside them in the firm is an adorable womanizer and talented ad man Zach (James Wolk), Simon’s beautiful assistant Lauren (Amanda Setton), and art director Andrew (Hamish Linklater).
UH-OH. The episode opens up with the firm dealing with their most urgent dilemma. They are about to lose their biggest client, McDonald’s. Sydney, albeit unsuccessfully, tries to convince her father to pitch the “authenticity” idea they have for their new campaign. Simon goes in a different direction. He tugs on the executives’ heartstrings by pitching them the idea of family, luring them in with a story of no matter how broke he was, he was always able to afford a happy meal for Sydney. Citing that everyone deserves a break and that this is McDonald’s chance to make people feel that again, Simon reveals the idea of using a celebrity to re-record the song from a 1972 campaign. McDonald’s agrees, giving them a one day deadline, which sends the team into a frenzy to find a singer. Simon quips to his team to get ready to sell an “ass load of hamburgers and reasonably-sized soft drinks.”
LEAP, AND THE NET WILL APPEAR. In a matter of hours, Simon is able to lock down a meeting with Kelly Clarkson, taking Zach as his wing man. I would say this meeting scene was the most comedic of the half hour. Kelly no longer wants to be seen as America’s sweetheart. She wants to re-brand herself sexy and provocative, singing only about sex. She won’t sing a jingle and certainly not one that’s not dirty. Zach and Simon start spitting out the most ridiculous and sexed up song about meat, ketchup exploding in your face, and drive-thru loving. This ad-lib jingle gave me the most laughs.
IT AIN’T THE MEAT, IT’S THE MOTION. Simon and Zach agree to her demands with a plan to change her mind later. After recording a vamped up jingle, they are unsuccessful at convincing her to sing the original song and Kelly walks out.
THE CRAZY ONES. Sydney tries her hand at bringing Kelly back. Crashing a family birthday party, she appeals to her emotions and tells her that she went into advertising mainly because of Apple’s 1997 “The Crazy Ones” campaign. Apple was promoting a feeling and idea, not just a product. It made her want to be an ad woman. Kelly wants Sydney to beg, so she only agrees to sing the original jingle if Sydney sings out loud at the restaurant. She does and it works as good comedy. The campaign is on and Roberts & Roberts lives to see another day.
I would give the pilot a B-. While it had a few funny moments, I expected a little more. There were a few dry and flat moments, but I feel that often comes with a pilot episode. I have a “three strikes you’re out” approach to new shows. I’m looking forward to seeing how the father/daughter dynamic plays out and how the writing and comedy will grow on this show.
I will say I was not disappointed by William’s return. It was nice to see him back on TV in all his quick quip and funny face glory. I’m also a big fan of this cast. I’m excited to see Gellar back on TV again since last year’s flop, CW’s Ringer. I enjoyed seeing James Wolk play another ad man on this show, although a very different role from his time as the mysterious Bob Benson on Mad Men last season. It was also great to see Hamish Linklater’s deadpan role as Andrew, one non-deceitful than the one he played earlier this summer on HBO’s The Newsroom.
A highlight for me was the bloopers at the end of the show of Simon and Zach’s ad-libbed song and Kelly Clarkson breaking down laughing in tears. It’s always nice to see a different side of the actors. I hope they keep the bloopers at the end of every episode.
What did you think of last night’s premiere?