Random re-writes of an established character’s personality? Totally manufactured and easily resolvable conflicts that somehow still take the whole episode to fix? A ham-fisted and tired sitcom premise dressed up in ‘adorkable’ drag? Guys, was I watching New Girl Season 1 just now??
Okay, this episode did not actually achieve New Girl Season 1 levels of letting-me-down-ness—Zooey Deschanel has grown by leaps and bounds as a comedienne since the first season, and is now vital and very funny part of the ensemble, which is one of the strongest in network TV.
But despite all of that, New Girl Season 3 Episode 7 still reminded me of those dark, early days, when confused character motivations, go-nowhere plots, and forced jokes were the norm for this show.
Nick and Jess end the episode...basically exactly where they were in their relationship before Coach showed up. Coach went away, presumably to never return (or at least not for a few more seasons). No other part of the plot really moved forward over the half hour. Which wouldn't be a problem, if the episode was up to the show's usual comedic standards. Unfortunately, this one just felt like no one was at the wheel--and I, like poor, confused Winston, felt myself the victim of a bait-and-switch.
Speaking of Winston: his “bunny money” screw-up was the only part of the episode that really worked for me. I mean, who among us hasn’t accidentally made a horrible mistake while we were just trying to have a little fun and impress Damon Wayans Jr.? It was the most genuinely felt moment in the entire episode, the only one that featured New Girl’s trademark blend of out-of-left field wackiness and total emotional realness. Everything else felt canned and under-written.
I only get mad at New Girl because I love it so—I know that it can do better, so it breaks my heart whenever the show completely phones it in. After the excellent second season, this little situation comedy really began to blossom into the Friends of its era—a show about hot, semi-insane people in weird situations that somehow was both hilarious and completely emotionally resonant.
But now, for some reason, New Girl seems hell-bent on becoming, say, the Joey of its era instead. In a network comedy landscape where nothing is rising up to replace off-the-air hits like The Office, I thought New Girl had a good shot at becoming the network comedy of its time. But it seems to be backing away from that lofty responsibility, and into being just another good-enough show that uses great actors to cover up for uninspired writing. Don’t do it, New Girl! I’ll be there for you, but only if you’re there for me, tooooooo, okay?
Did you appreciate Coach's return? Am I being too hard on this episode? Will Schmidt stop messing around and just move back in already?
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