Some TV writer sat down to watch an episode of AMC’s Mad Men and thought, “I know! What if this was half as long and a quarter as serious? No problems with alcohol or infidelity; just pure, advertising-themed family fun!” And thus, The Crazy Ones was born, sold to CBS, and cast with Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. And while it generally isn’t hard to fool me, I couldn’t be fooled this time. I knew that this show was, not an original thought, but someone’s idea of what the kids are into these days. Who cares if there is already a show with the exact same premise? People love it when you make multiple versions of the same thing. How else do you explain boy bands and the Real Housewives of Everyplace?
So, of course, when you’re making a carbon copy of Mad Men, you have to start with a person, preferably of the male persuasion, who works in advertising. Yeah, he wears a suit and tie, but in his eyes, there is a fire yet to be put out that says that he is so much more than just your typical ad man. He has charisma and charm, both of which he uses to get everyone on his side when he pitches an idea. He walks with a confident strut that says “I own this place and I have ideas that you will love.” And everyone prays at the altar of his genius and ingenuity. Now, am I talking about Jon Hamm’s Don Draper or am I talking about Robin Williams’ Simon Roberts? Trick question, I’m talking about both! Carbon copy, remember?
Once you’ve got your lead character down, the next super important step is securing your dope supporting characters. Do not settle for less when it comes to your protegé. This is, perhaps, the most important thing. She must be a woman and she has to be smart, headstrong, and much younger than you. Don Draper hates his kids, so he had to outsource and fill this spot with a stranger (how ya doin’, Peggy Olson?). But not Simon! He had his very own built-in lady pupil in his daughter, Sydney (Gellar). But what Draper lacks in daughter/business partners, he makes up for in lower-level associates. Do you recall a certain knee-toucher by the name of Bob Benson, who we discovered was a mini-Draper on Mad Men? That’s okay if you don’t, because he’s reprising his role as “Handsome Ad Guy” in Mad Men Part Deux. It’s like The Crazy Ones’ show runners really wanted us to associate the two shows with one another, so they made the obvious choice by casting James Wolk in an identical role in their show. Easy peasy. And, as the icing on the cake, everyone works together in the creative department of Simon’s ad agency, because everyone knows that, like blondes, creatives have more fun.
Before I even tuned into this show, I made the mental connection to Mad Men, but I thought that I should give it a chance to prove me wrong. I mean, there’s a lot that can happen inside of an advertising agency, so they weren’t exactly guaranteed to be identical. Too bad that the show’s creators didn’t even try to be innovative in any way whatsoever and just shamelessly recreated the show. But, in the least surprising news ever, that’s not the way to a successful show. It ends up being an unfunny wreck that is doing all it can to hold onto the coattails of an already established show. Back to the drawing board, CBS; it might be time to hire a new creative department of your own.