One week after CBS gave the world an upfront first look at Robin Williams's TV comeback in The Crazy Ones (doing his manic schtick, with Buffy as his hot young daughter), word comes today that FX is bringing Billy Crystal on board for a pilot called The Comedians, wherein he'll play a veteran comedian (himself, with a hot-but-not-in-the-Buffy-way young sketch-show partner). Whose return will be more illustrious?
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Williams's show, about a father-daughter duo at an ad agency, is from David E. Kelley, who is very much a successful show runner but not exactly someone who's been associated with half-hour comedy—or a successful television show in the last five years. The receptions from the fall upfronts were widely "eh." The most buzz generating from this trailer was its Kelly Clarkson cameo.
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Meanwhile, Crystal's show is being executive produced by, among others, Larry Charles—a writer and producer on Seinfeld and an executive producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm. So those are good signs! Not great signs? Charles is also responsible for directing Sacha Baron Cohen's movie outings like Borat, Brüno, and The Dictator. Charles will write The Comedians along with executive producers Matt Nix of Burn Notice and Ben Wexler of Community. The pilot is due for summer.
Well, considering CBS is persistently groan-worthy, Crystal wins out here. FX is the network that brings us Louie, and Always Sunny, and its president, John Landgraf, is more than happy to hand over complete control of a show for honest comedy. Who's to say they can't do something great here, especially if they hire the right, truly edgy female comedian to counterbalance Crystal? Although, FX hasn't actually picked up Crystal's pilot yet, meaning this could all be for naught. Which brings us to...
We really didn't think we would ever see Mork and Buffy on screen together. So there's that.
Their Current Status
Both are definitely not in their glory days any more, though perhaps Crystal has been lambasted more as of late, as people rolled their eyes when he was brought in as an Oscar-pinch hitter.
Their TV History
Well, Williams hasn't been a series regular since he played an alien on the sweet but not-groundbreaking series Mork & Mindy, a Happy Days spin-off.
Crystal was a regular on Soap, a series which Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz considers an influence, playing one of the first gay characters on network television. He then moved to Saturday Night Live as part of Dick Ebersol's planned revitalization of the show.
Well, we're more excited for this Crystal project given its concept and pedigree. But, knowing CBS, Williams may have himself a long running sitcom on his hands. It's unclear whether that's good or bad news for Williams.