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Wayne Post
Columnist and author Melissa Crawley writes about what's hot on TV.
Stay Tuned-Can ‘The Crazy Ones’ rise above nostalgia for Robin Williams?
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About this blog
Melissa Crawley has a PhD in media studies from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Her book: Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's \x34The West Wing\x34 was published in 2006. She has also published work online ...
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TV Reviews
Melissa Crawley has a PhD in media studies from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Her book: Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's \x34The West Wing\x34 was published in 2006. She has also published work online at PopMatters and Flow as well as chapters in the edited collections: The American President in Popular Culture and The Great American Makeover. Her weekly syndicated television column, Stay Tuned, is part of GateHouse News Service. Follow her on Twitter @melissacrawley
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By smal3082
Oct. 6, 2013 6:25 a.m.



Not surprisingly, the best thing about the new CBS comedy “The Crazy Ones” is Robin Williams. He plays Simon Roberts, an advertising legend who may be losing his edge. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays his daughter Sydney, his partner in the agency. Simon has made his name in the business by being an unpredictable creative genius but fears he’s lost his touch. Sydney is the pragmatic, no-nonsense one who admires her father’s creativity but worries that his unorthodox style is beginning to alienate more clients than it attracts. She’s the straight man to his funny man in a workplace comedy that showcases Williams’ skill. He’s come a long way from “Mork and Mindy” but what made him funny then still makes him funny now.

A man-child like Simon Roberts is a perfect role for Williams’ signature manic energy. I’ve always thought of his comedic style as a kind of challenge where the reward is as much about your ability to keep up as it is about the punchline. You surrender to his wild stream of consciousness and enjoy the ride. “The Crazy Ones” plays to Williams’ strengths by allowing him to do his thing and if you like him, you’ll like this show.

Gellar does a fine job of playing the straight man but the chemistry between her and Williams feels dull. I don’t really care too much about their father/daughter dynamic or the idea that she is more the parent in their relationship than he is. More successful is James Wolk as Zach, an ad executive who goes along on Roberts’ wild ride. Zach and Simon’s song pitch to Kelly Clarkson (as herself) in the Pilot, is funny because Wolk dives right into Williams’ nuttiness and enjoys himself. He projects a level of comfort with Williams that Gellar doesn’t and it shows in their scenes together.

The show is more subtle with its comedy than you might expect considering it stars a comic as quick fire as Williams. It’s not a belly laugh a minute and it doesn’t need to be. But what it does need to do is prove it can capture and keep an audience who aren’t simply watching out of nostalgia. As happy as I am to see Robin Williams back on the small screen, I’m not sure this is the show that will make me wish he stays there.

“The Crazy Ones” is on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EDT on CBS.

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