I like to keep an appropriate level of icy critical remove around here, but I feel like I must confess before we go any further: I am an amateur Prince-ologist.
I've seen Prince in concert, I can quote all of Purple Rain at will, and I once won a free pizza at a bowling alley for being able to name three of his female proteges from the '80s while simultaneously shot-gunning a beer.
And so when I found out that my worlds would be colliding in New Girl Season 3 Episode 14, I braced myself for any possible number of outcomes.
Would it be good? Would it be bad? Would Prince be in on the joke? Would Prince even really be in the episode? Or would we just get a brief shot of the Purple One in the background, grooving around in an enormous hat, as the gang hashed out some problems, which is so often the case with celebrity guest stars?
I am pleased to report that:
- Prince has a larger, and more unexpected, role in this episode than I could have ever anticipated - possibly a larger and more unexpected role than any rock star has ever taken on a major network sitcom
- His work in this half hour is the probably best thing he's done since "Lovesexy." Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate this thing called Prince's excellent sense of humor!
"Unexpected" is a word that applies to a lot of different aspects of Prince's recent career -- perhaps most of all to the slow revelation that he seems to have a good sense of humor about himself (for further proof, please refer to the single he released with Dave Chapelle as "Purple Rain"-era Prince on the cover).
But on this episode, Prince raised the bar for himself - and for the celebrity sitcom guest spot in general - by doing some actual comedic heavy lifting and shooting off at least one of the night's best New Girl quotes, as a romantic Obi-Wan helping Jess learn to feel comfortable with admitting her love for Nick.
When you compare this to, say, that time Bob Dylan mumbled a line or two on Dharma and Greg back in the day, you see that the man has broken ground all over again.
Since the episode was primarily structured as a Prince delivery system, the rest of it lacked a bit of momentum - after all, how much plot tension can you really develop when everyone is stopping every minute or two to talk about how cool Prince is? - but Prince's shockingly delightful self-parodying appearance was more than enough to earn this episode its stars, in my book.
I mean, Prince's best musical years may be done, but I think he might have a decent second act in him as a sitcom comedian. Do I smell a spin-off that has a down-on-his-luck Prince moving into Schmidt's loft? Fox executives, you can have that one for free! (not really for free)
But enough of my opinion. I own Under the Cherry Moon on DVD and Blu-Ray, so I'm hardly an impartial audience.
What did you think of Prince's appearance on New Girl?