The Crazy Ones exists in a world where bigger is always better. You don’t think a baby doll saying “kill mommy” is funny? Well how about if Robin Williams rips off the doll’s head as it bellows “I’LL SEE YOU IN HELL!” Funny right? It’s this type of misguided direction into gigantic stunts and away from interesting character moments that makes The Crazy Ones fail, as we see both ends of the spectrum in “Outbreak.”
In “Outbreak,” Sydney has a date with Kyle, a doctor and all-around fantastic guy, as we hear from Sydney and Lauren’s spouting off of facts about him. In fact, after the rapid-fire frenzy of information, we actually know more about Kyle than most of the major characters with whom we’ve spent a dozen episodes. While Sydney is getting excited about her date, the ad agency has to deal with the backlash from the “kill mommy” incident. Even worse, Simon’s top guy, Zach, is getting sick, so Sydney puts him and anyone else who might be sick into quarantine.
It seems like the entire office ends up being quarantined by the end of the episode, but really, when have any of them ever mattered? With the date with Kyle looming, Andrew decides he needs to make his feelings for Sydney known once again. She admits that yes, she does have feelings, but she doesn’t want to lose Andrew as a friend if things go bad. It’s all typical “will-they-won’t they” sitcom behavior, and Andrew sacrifices himself to the almost zombie-like sick people as an act of friendship and to ensure Sydney’s date with Kyle goes through.
Meanwhile, Lauren and Simon are trying to smooth over the doll incident, yet in preparing to fix things, they have re-recorded the voice box to say even more horrible things to scare Andrew. So guess which doll ends up in front of the cameras during the apology? You guessed it. The one saying terrifying things.
Yet for every big moment that “Quarantine” tries to mine for laughs, such as the quarantined sick room and the demon doll, there are genuinely pleasant moments between characters, which is quite rare on The Crazy Ones. It’s great seeing Zach and Andrew talk about relationship issues like real friends, or having Sydney and Andrew debate whether or not they have a future together. Even Lauren and Simon share a nice moment about how great Lauren has been at the company, despite the recent flub with the dolls that is her fault. That’s the stuff that ends up working, not the wacky situations of Williams and company.
By the end, it turns out Kyle is a germaphobe who bails on his date with Sydney after one cough and then directly hits on a girl in front of Sydney. Instead, Sydney spends the night hanging out sick with Andrew and Zach where she is much better off.
It may not seem like much, but it’s these simple moments that should be the focus of The Crazy Ones. We don’t need a show that ends each week with non-sensical bloopers, we just need a show with heart. It’s too rare that it shows up here, but at least in “Outbreak,” we also get some good with the bad.