April 18, 2014

THE SKED Season Finale Review: “The Crazy Ones”


THE CRAZY ONES was conspicuously missing from CBS’s long list of early 2014-15 series renewals, and of course it’s faint praise to say that the show isn’t as bad as that sounds.  It’s the case, though:  The Crazy Ones resisted the temptation to be merely “The Robin Williams Show,” and at its best it’s been a bright if silly ensemble comedy, with strong contributions from Sarah Michelle Gellar, Hamish Linklater, James Wolk and Amanda Setton very much alongside Williams as other members of his character’s Chicago ad agency (and in the case of Gellar’s character, his daughter).  With the exception of MomCrazy Ones is certainly the best (faint praise again) of the new comedies CBS launched this season, and would probably be doing as well as the already-renewed The Millers if it had that show’s plum post-Big Bang Theory timeslot.

This being CBS, the back-to-back episodes that marked The Crazy Ones’ season finale tonight were only slightly connected.  The ending of the first half-hour, written by Executive Producer Dean Lorey and directed by Jason Winer, set up a supposed crisis where the ad agency received a buy-out offer for $47M that Gordon (the recurring Brad Garrett), who runs the business side of the agency while Simon (Williams) runs the creative, insisted in sending to the company’s Board of Directors.  In the second half-hour, written by Executive Producers Tracy Poust and Jon Kinally, and directed by Matt Sohn, that prompted the arrival of Simon’s ex-wife (guest star Marilu Henner), who had the controlling vote on the sale.  Also, the closest thing the series has had to a continuing storyline through the season has been the not-romance of Sydney (Gellar) and her best platonic friend, the mildly nerdy art director Andrew (Linklater), although the screen hasn’t exactly been set afire with their chemistry.  The two episodes built that to a sort of cliffhanger, as Sydney finally admitted she was jealous that Andrew was dating her secretary, and in the second episode she kissed Andrew–apparently to a bad response, although whatever took place was off-screen.

Most of the first half-hour, though, was concerned with Simon’s crusade to save a local library, which he did by creating a campaign that threatened a book-burning at the hands of Gordon, who was vilified as a monster to the point that after he really did (accidentally) set fire to a pile of books, he was literally chased through the streets by Chicago townspeople with torches.  It was mildly amusing, not for its plotting but for the charm of Williams, Garrett, and the rest of the cast–which is a description that applies fairly well to the show in general.

The finale episode made a nod toward exploring the relationships between Simon and his ex-wife, and Sydney and her mother, but there was very little to them:  Simon’s hostility all too obviously led to the pair landing in bed, while Sydney, just as Simon had forecast, was left marooned once again when her mother’s initial warm enthusiasm for spending time together quickly passed.  In the end the agency wasn’t sold, leaving it ready for next season, if one comes to pass.

Robin Williams hasn’t overpowered The Crazy Ones as one might have feared, and although he does his voices and tics and improvs, they’re mostly kept brief and in service of the overall script.  He’s had a good rapport with the rest of the cast, especially Wolk as the agency’s golden child and Casanova, and the show has wisely allowed Sydney’s character to grow from the scold she was in the pilot to more of a partner in the general hijinks.  Also, despite the supervising presence of series creator David E. Kelley, the show hasn’t gotten bogged down in his trademark speechifying and eccentricity for its own sake.  The result is a genial half-hour that provokes a few chuckles every week, if little more.  Watching it never feels like a necessity, but it’s not a waste, either–just a pleasant enough way to pass the time.  The ratings, though, have underdelivered, given the star power (and presumably the commensurate expense) involved, so that may not be enough.  The Crazy Ones will probably never be memorable, but on balance, it’s earned its space on the line-up, especially compared to most of the other comedies the season–not to mention CBS itself–has offered.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."