Friday, October 18, 2013

‘Crazy’ Williams-Gellar casting makes perfect sense

(Published Oct. 13, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

The new David E. Kelley sitcom “The Crazy Ones” scores a casting coup with comedian Robin Williams and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” Sarah Michelle Gellar as a father-daughter team working in the same Chicago advertising agency.

It’s a welcome breather from Kelley’s legal drama shows, but just like them, “The Crazy Ones” is sharply penned, rife with characteristically gabby figures with clashing personalities. What’s pleasantly surprising about it is its more feel-good, more optimistic bent, which aptly offers Williams a comfortable playground for his endearing and kooky comic abilities.

And as the respected, laid-back ad executive Simon Roberts, who’s proven himself time and again despite his unpredictability, Williams has a credible, wizened demeanor. But Simon isn’t entirely without self-doubt, which makes his more tightly wound daughter Sydney a valuable presence in his life and career.

Gellar, who spent seven years winning over fans as the supernatural heroine Buffy, matured tremendously as an actor in the acclaimed series that ended a decade ago. While she appeared in a few successful fantasy and horror flicks (“Scooby Doo” and “The Grudge”) and the short-lived action-suspense series “Ringer,” it’s elating that she snagged an interestingly lighter character in a more “real” setting.

There was a strong rapport, an obvious give-and-take process that kept the first episode smooth and promising. Simon’s and Sydney’s opposing methods were clearly established; threatened with the possible departure of a high-paying client (a popular fast-food company), the Robertses whipped up differing strategies to extend that profitable partnership.

Guest star Kelly Clarkson appeared as a more demanding version of herself, the pop singer adding an unexpectedly combustible component to the already “crazy” equation. Her song-recording scene with James Wolk, who plays the agency’s hunky copywriter Zach, was inspired and rib-tickling.

The episode’s running time, however, is barely 20 minutes, sans commercials. Still, it was succinct and precise enough, winning over the viewer and leaving them satisfied.
But limited time aside, it’s good that the outtakes are being shown. Williams gets hearty reactions from his costars, who inevitably crack up because of his unmatched improvisation and rapid-fire verbal antics—they can break any professional’s composure!

It’s great that Williams and Gellar are appearing regularly again, and will hopefully do so for a couple of seasons. This new show knows how to utilize their strengths, and the exciting casting is a brilliant idea that easily sells itself.

(“The Crazy Ones” airs Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m. on 2nd Avenue.)

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