The illustrious Miss Joni Mitchell once said, "You don't know what you got 'til it's gone."
And while I can't 100% confirm that she was talking about New Girl Season 3, I am starting to think that that's the most likely scenario.
Because, you see, New Girl Season 3 Episode 8 brought my high hopes for this show to an end... or at the very least, put them on pause.
Did my hopes end with Coach's sub-Rob Schneider comedy song? Or with the sidelining of many of the most compelling characters for a lame plot about exercising and a weird "Hey, this guy can't do fitness!" montage that belonged on, I don't know, According to Jim?
Maybe they ended with the revelation that Schmidt had moved out to the apartment across the hall, and has been replaced in the loft by Coach - a Poochie-style move if I ever saw one - with almost no comment. Or maybe it was just that this was a disjointed episode, seemingly pulled together from a dozen other scrapped show ideas.
Most likely, it was the weight of all of these problems piled on top of each other, crushing the life out of this show, despite everyone's still-excellent comic timing and physical comedy skills.
I do want to make it clear that I'm not trashing the show itself, necessarily. Every actor on New Girl is incredibly skilled, and at the total top of their comedy game. The physical comedy delivered by every actor - and especially Zooey Deschanel - is notable, and there are still enough New Girl quotes that gave me a chuckle.
But the show's direction is making some questionable turns. Nick's sharp edges have been sanded too far down, making him less of a loose cannon and more of a loser. Schmidt's move out of the loft doesn't seem to matter to anyone except Schmidt, making him much closer to an "Andre from The League" than the brilliant, bitchy man-baby we've all come to love.
And Schmidt and Cece are two of the sharpest assets that this show has, but they seem to have been pushed into the background in favor of...Coach.
It's not Coach's fault, of course. He's not the problem, he's a symptom. New Girl, at first, seemed to be handling life post-Nick-and-Jess very deftly, building up new conflicts to replace the "will they or won't they?" tension that animated much of New Girl Season 2. But those conflicts seem to have been quickly deflated, with Coach's arrival placed on as a kind of a Band-Aid over the plot, to distract or re-direct.
I do think New Girl can pull itself out of this, because it has lifted itself out of greater quagmires than this before--like, for example, most of New Girl Season 1.
But I don't know that the show wants to. New Girl had a recent bump in ratings in fact, with New Girl Season 3 Episode 7, so there's probably no motivation to change course. And you'll certainly go broke and insane trying to please TV recappers.
But for a show with so much potential - a show that convinced me that Zooey Deschanel just maybe-kinda-sorta could be a Lucille Ball for a new generation - I really hope that they get back on the horse, and get back to making the sharp comedy that I know they can.
I did love Winston's "Ironside" joke, though. So at least there was that.
Is Schmidt permanently out of the loft? Is Coach permanently in? Can Coach technically even be a "Poochie" if he was on the original show pilot?