TV review: CBS viewers might not embrace “The Crazy Ones” — and that’s what’s most appealing about the series

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From the September 26, 2013 edition

CBS is promoting its new comedy as the return of Robin Williams to television. Even though there’s certainly a constituency of “Mork & Mindy” fans out there, Williams return isn’t the most interesting aspect of “The Crazy Ones.” Neither are starring roles for Sarah Michelle Gellar nor rising TV star James Wolk (Bob Benson in the house!).

What’s notable about “The Crazy Ones” is it’s a single-camera comedy — on CBS?! Yup, the network known for multi-cam, filmed-in-front-of-a-live-studio-audience stinkers like “Two and a Half Men,” is making a big investment in trying something new.

With the big name cast and producer David E. Kelly (“Ally McBeal”), “The Crazy Ones” has star power behind it. Whether it finds an audience is a big question.

This is essentially a workplace comedy about unconventional (i.e. reckless genius) advertising executive Simon Roberts (Williams) and his daughter/partner Sydney (Gellar). Simon makes impetuous, risky decisions but his talent thrives under pressure and always come through. Syndey is more conventional (i.e. a worrywart) and butts heads with her father.

This odd-couple dynamic is hardly new, and Williams — as expected, over-the-top with his brand of comedic shtick — and Gellar — a fairly annoying wet blanket — aren’t particularly great, but there’s something to like about the series’ potential.

The main reason for optimism is Wolk’s free-wheeling lothario Zach. He injects fun and humor into every scene, improving everything with Williams and Gellar substantially. Besides Wolk, there’s also an appealing bond between the coworkers, especially Simon and his daughter. Williams has always been strong with more serious material, and comes through here.

It’s hard to tell if CBS viewers will embrace “The Crazy Ones” because it’s so different from its comedy brand — interestingly, that’s what’s most appealing about the series.