Oh god, did you see that title? “Zach Mitzvah.” This can only mean bad things from Robin Williams, right? He’s going to go on some long spiel that for some reason he won’t realize is offensive, yet we will, all shaking our heads in shame as he keeps going like an Energizer bunny with a coke problem. Well, that’s what I thought was going to happen in “Zach Mitzvah,” since whenever anytime anyone different comes into the Roberts’ offices on The Crazy Ones, Williams has to go all out to point out that they’re different, but this time he’s actually restrained!
At first, there are some Jewish jokes thrown around (as Williams throws out his fair share of yiddish for no one’s amusement but his own), but after a while he calms down and “Zach Mitzvah” ends up being a much less painful experience than most episodes.
It’s also a pretty weird idea for an episode. Cheryl Hines is the owner of a series of hotels who is distracted during her pitch meeting by the plans for her sons bar mitzvah. For some reason, Simon Roberts thinks it would be a great idea to have the bar mitzvah at their office building, especially since the theme is “Noah Loves Chicago.” It actually does work quite well, even if it initially seems like a dumb idea. But oh no, it turns out the bar mitzvah boy, Noah, is effeminate and that when he said “Noah Loves Chicago,” he meant the musical, not the city. What is Williams going to do with this type of ammunition? Well, The Crazy Ones actually takes the opposite approach it has taken, having Simon make sure that Noah is being himself on his big day and not who is mother wants him to be. It’s a nice change for a show that would usually mock this type of character.
Maybe this plot works better because Simon is very much in the background throughout “Zach Mitzvah,” with the plot focusing around Sydney, and as the title implies, Zach. We find out that Simon hired Zach because he was quite a talented bar mitzvah DJ known as “Dr. Z.” Yet Zach had his heart broken by the best bar mitzvah singer in the area, Zoe Gold. Broken to the point that he stood outside her window playing songs that sound like rejects from The Wedding Singer.
There’s not really any sort of conclusion to this plot—something The Crazy Ones tends to do quite often—except that Zach gets drunk, sings sad songs and then just has to deal with it. This is all punctuated by some terrible handheld directing that does not work at all and doesn’t fit with the style of the show.
On the Sydney side of things, she meets a guy at the bar mitzvah who happens to be a waiter, immediately making her less interested. He goes from charming to a slob though when he starts eating leftover food from the party and hiding appetizers in Sydney’s deck. Even though he’s now sort of a creep, Sydney still makes out with him and then since she got him fired earlier, she invites him to crash at her place for now.
It’s quite a weird turnaround, considering that Syndey comes off like a jerk at first for not wanting to go out with a guy for being a waiter, but then she seems to be in the right when he turns out to be a real weirdo. But forgetting all of that, the two end up together now as roommates for the time being? I don’t get it.
Even worse off is Andrew, who doesn’t have a story, but instead just walks around this episode commenting on everyone else’s story. Then there’s poor Lauren, who gets high with some little kids and then acts like an insane person for the rest of the episode. Who would’ve thought The Crazy Ones would finally have an episode where Robin Williams is the only sane one?
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.