'The Crazy Ones' review: An annoying Robin Williams

Simon Roberts, played by Robin Williams and Zach Simon Roberts, played by Robin Williams and Zach Cropper, played by actor James Wolk, must pull out all the stops and convince Grammy Award-winner Kelly Clarkson to record a new twist on a classic advertising jingle for their biggest client on the series premiere of "The Crazy Ones." Photo Credit: CBS

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REVIEW

THE SHOW "The Crazy Ones"

WHEN|WHERE Thursday night at 9 on CBS/2

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Simon Roberts (Robin Williams) is an ad genius whose daughter, Sydney (Sarah Michelle Gellar), works by his side. But that's a perilous place to be because mercurial Simon is about to lose the McDonald's account unless he thinks fast. That thought: to get Kelly Clarkson to sing the classic Mickey D jingle, "You Deserve a Break Today." Unfortunately, Clarkson -- appearing in a cameo -- wants to sing the Swallows' 1950s single-entendre R&B song, "It Ain't the Meat, It's the Motion."

MY SAY A pair of TV's prodigal sons return Thursday night (see above), but, as luck would have it, their shows make the same mistake, which is to assume their leads' great renown trumps story, plot, concept and comedy. It doesn't. Never has. Never will.

Like "The Michael J. Fox Show," "The Crazy Ones" -- the title comes from that classic black-and-white Apple ad from the last century featuring famous people who "think different" -- flirts around the edges of the real world. Clarkson is pulled in (ineffectively), and so is McDonald's, at least in name, and while CBS insists this isn't some sort of quantum advance in product placement, it sure feels that way. McDonald's, in any event, will be very pleased. Meanwhile, Williams' Simon Roberts is an alt-universe version of Don Draper: hyper, unrestrained and deeply annoying. He doesn't seem like an ad genius as much as a joke-a-minute factory-line comic who got lost on his way to The Comedy Store. You hope for a laugh, pray for one, then give up. To be fair, tonight's pilot runs fast (19 minutes) and feels more like a "sizzle reel" than a fully formed show. Williams, at least, is a genius, and maybe he'll get the time to turn this into something worth watching.

BOTTOM LINE Crazy dumb, so far

GRADE C-

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