Tuesday, November 10, 2015

TV on DVD Review: The Crazy Ones - Complete Series

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Actors and performances, some funny scenes
Cons: Predictable characters, not as many laughs as you’d expect.
The Bottom Line:
Strong start with good laughs
Devolve as season goes on
Could have been better

"Don't Forget to Grab a Scone As You're Fleeing."

Like so many others, I had to tune in to watch The Crazy Ones.  And yes, I was watching just as much for Sarah Michelle Geller and I was for Robin Williams.  The first few episodes of this sitcom were fantastic, but then it slowly began to head downhill.  While I stuck around until the end, many didn’t, leading to its cancelation.  I would have kept watching if it were still on the air, but I wasn’t sorry to see it go.

The comedy comes to us from Chicago as we visit the advertising agency of Roberts and Lewis.  The firm is run day to day by Simon Roberts (Robin Williams), a genius of an advertiser who has been involved in many famous campaigns in his day.  Coming with his genius is a heavy dose of wacky.  He’ll explore every idea, usually trying the craziest ones himself.  Balancing him out is his daughter Sydney (Sarah Michelle Geller), who is straight laced and determined and serious.  And she is determined to make a name for herself so she can come out of her father’s shadow.  Also in the agency are Zach (James Wolk), Simon’s smart protégé, Andrew (Hamish Linklater), the neurotic art director, and Lauren (Amanda Setton), the much smarter than she appears assistant.

Over the course of the season, Sydney’s campaign for a local coffee shop goes horribly wrong, procrastination is the name of the game when they have to come up with an ad for a breakfast burrito, a conflict might lead Simon to have to give up his first client, the company softball game features too huge stakes, and Zach has to figure out a way to deliver on a huge overpromise.

Now I’m not a fan of single camera comedies.  Call me what you will, but I much prefer the multi-camera sitcom when I sit down to watch a comedy.  Still, this sitcom started out with some great laughs in the early episodes.  They let Robin Williams have free reign at times, and the rest of the cast improved off of him.  Some of the results were pretty funny.

However, as the season wore on, that began to lose its charm.  Maybe it was just that the actors were trying too hard to come up with new material.  Or maybe the writing around the improv wasn’t as good.  Either way, it wasn’t nearly as funny as the first few episodes.  I’d call it more amusing at times.

Not helping is that, as the series progressed, the character development fell flat.  What could have turned into interesting people instead turned into the predictable types.  When they did go for character development, it was always perfectly predictable, meaning we often saw the ending of an episode coming from the first commercial break.  A few of those moments were touching, but for the most part, they weren’t as creative as they wanted to be.

I’m not blaming the actors for this.  Robin Williams can certainly get over the top, but for the most part he was good as Simon.  Sarah Michelle Gellar had the unenviable roll of being the straight woman to all the antics going around.  She got her share of laughs at times, but she was always great whether delivering the setup for the punchline.  The rest of the cast was wonderful as well and easily kept pace with Robin’s antics.  On the guest star side, look for several appearances as Brad Garrett as the mostly unseen partner Lewis, and Pam Dawber, Mindy of Mork and Mindy fame, also appears in one episode.

The show has been released as a MOD demand release by Amazon.  They seem to be having issues getting the three discs in this set to work, so if you buy the set, be sure you try it right away to see if it works.

I know the show had fans who were disappointed when it was canceled.  However, if you’ve missed The Crazy Ones, you might not want to rush out to buy the set.  There are some great moments, but the series didn’t live up to its full potential.

Series Episodes:
1. Pilot
2. The Spectacular
3. Bad Dad
4. Breakfast Burrito Club
5. She’s So European
6. Hugging the Now
7. Sydney, Australia
8. The Stan Wood Account
9. Sixteen-Inch Softball
10. Models Love Magic
11. The Intern
12. The Face of a Winner
13. Outbreak
14. Simon Roberts Was Here
15. Dead and Improved
16. Zach Mitzvah
17. March Madness
19. Danny Chase Hates Brad Paisley
20. Love Sucks
21. The Monster
22. The Lighthouse

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