When I watch TV’s other major show about advertisers, Mad Men, I rarely think, “you know what this show needs? More advertisements!” Yet watching The Crazy Ones, that’s exactly what the show needs. This show needs structure for the weird plots that go down and not the vague “we have an upcoming project” that causes flu outbreaks and visiting models to become an episode’s focal point.
“Simon Roberts Was Here” focuses on an ad campaign and allows the story to flow through that idea. It’s not gold material, but it works as best as this show has shown it can deliver so far. With the company taking on Regal Cat Food, this allows for two distinct stories to pop up. Neither of them are particularly strong, but hey, this is The Crazy Ones. You can’t expect genius here.
The weakest of the two story lines involves Sydney’s new friendship with Princess, the temporary office cat. For some reason The Crazy Ones continues to make Sydney look like an old maid, even though she seems to have had more suitors than the rest of the cast. Here, she bonds with Princess and even has a dinner date with her as security guards watch over their cameras and laugh at her. In the end, Sydney accepts her fate and brings Princess home—I assume to start her process of becoming a cat lady—where she meets her new veterinarian neighbor. All right, she has a new possible person to date, but why is this supposed to be a big deal when so many male characters have already showed interest in her?
In the main plot, Simon clashes with Colin, the office’s quantitative analyst. Simon wants a more creative idea for the cat food ad, while Colin is basically using some Moneyball-type algorithm to figure out what viewers want. In a blind test against Simon, Colin wins the opportunity to pitch his idea to Regal Cat Food, which essentially looks like a crappy YouTube clip about how Regal is great because it has an easy-to-open can. When the idea obviously fails, Simon is there to pick up the slack and win over the customer once again. Yet it doesn’t really come off as suggesting the two should work together, but rather that one guy who clearly has some skill screwed up and Simon saves him at the last minute, like he knew he would have to.
It’s nice to have Colin (Sandeep Parikh) on the show, as having someone conflict with Simon provides some much needed tension, but it also kind of feels like the show couldn’t afford to have Brad Garrett along as a supporting character.
Also, the ads that Simon Roberts comes up with never sound all of that great. It’s almost reminiscent of when Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip acted like it was some important, groundbreaking show, then when it finally showed its skits, they were like The Fart Engine from 30 Rock.
Let’s just all be glad that “Simon Roberts Was Here” at least has some connective tissue between its ideas and its plot. And hey, there was a person who wasn’t white in the office for an entire episode, and Robin Williams didn’t do one offensive impression! So there’s that!