We understand that New Girl is not going to be everyone's cup of twee. There are legions of people out there who hate Zooey Deschanel's quirky style and personality. Those people should not watch this show -- there's absolutely no way that they will ever be able to look beyond Zooey's dorky-girl-next-door character to see that this sitcom is actually fast-paced, clever and entertaining. Since we weren't predisposed to despise her, we found ourselves utterly drawn under her spell. That said, this show isn't all about her -- there are plenty of other oddball elements that make this series our favorite comedy of the fall (we'd say the season, but ABC's upcoming Apartment 23 might win that battle). Here's what we adored about the pilot:
I can't believe I'm saying this, because I haven't said it in a while, but I actually kind of loved last night's episode of New Girl, "Sister 3." Maybe it's because unlike so many other things on this show, a story line had a definitive expiration date and therefore could not outstay its welcome (or, in this case, Abby could not outstay her welcome). It also probably helped that it felt more like the Season 1 and 2 characters we fell in love with. Nick acted like a weird manchild hobo, Jess was a quirky neurotic and Schmidt pronounced things funny. Hell, I even thought they made good use of Cece and Coach, which is the rarest rarity of them all. Winston, on the other hand, was sadly as pathetic as ever. The episode found Abby and Schmidt shacked up, much to the horror of Jess, who decides she and Nick have to catch up with them. She asks Nick to "move in" with her, and the two find out pretty quickly that living together isn't quite the same as living together separately. So, in honor of that mistake, here are the do's and don'ts from "Sister 3":
I wish I laughed at New Girl as hard as I used to. I'm not saying last night's episode "Sister 2" wasn't funny, per se, but the tone of the show in Season 3 hasn't given me one solid belly laugh, when the first and second season were packed to the brim with them. "Sister 2" had its funny moments, but even something as silly as Nick pretending to be a hot dog bandit (it's was as ridiculous as it sounds) didn't make me laugh in the same way it would have a year or two ago. Is it because I've outgrown these characters or because the pacing feels off or am I just not letting myself actually have fun watching such a light show? It might be a little bit of all three, but either way, not even the re-emergence of Coach this season or newcomers like Jess's crazy sister Abby (Linda Cardellini) are helping fix this problem. In fact, they might even be making things worse.
That Day family is one kooky bunch, huh? We've already met Jess's overprotective papa Bob (Rob Reiner) and her outgoing mother Joan (Jamie Lee Curtis, who popped up again in another phone scene), and in last night's new episode "Sister" we finally met Jess's wild-child sister that we've definitely never heard of before, Abby ( Linda Cardellini). We know that Abby and Jess are different because Abby (who Jess describes as "a girl who looks like me but with chaos in her eyes") gets arrested and causes trouble wherever she goes and wears dark eye makeup and tattered clothes (the surefire sign of a real troublemaker) and Jess sings about everything and has always been seen as the babied baby in the family. But despite their differences (and Jess's attempts to keep Abby away from everyone, including Nick) these two had some really great moments together and, like any good TV hellion, Abby makes herself right at home. I actually enjoyed this story line, maybe because I like Linda Cardellini or maybe because I thought she and Zooey Deschanel made believable sisters, or maybe it's just because anything compared to the nauseating soup-slurping double date between Winston, Bertie (WHY?!), Coach, and Cece seems downright brilliant. Here now are the do's and don'ts of letting your punk sister invade your life from last night's episode of New Girl:
One sitcom trope that has always driven me especially crazy is when two characters stay friends with each other (and their friend group as a whole) after they've split up. Maybe it's tense for an episode or two, and there's a good chance they'll reconcile (like plenty of exes that can't stay away from each other do), but for the most part it's an unrealistic portrayal of what it's like when two people in a group of friends split from each other. Lines in the sand are drawn, there are tears and there is jealously, among other unpleasantries. But, most notably, they would absolutely not hang out every single day (unless they worked together), no matter how close they were. While How I Met Your Mother has touched on the weirdness of Robin hanging out with her exes and the fact that Ted is still pining, New Girl (which is guilty of the exes-staying-friendly trope themselves with Schmidt and Cece) explored that issue last night in "Exes." The initial argument was that people only stay friends with their exes for the possibility of sex, but by the end of the episode, they figured out that that is impossible because there's too many unresolved issues. While I didn't love "Exes," I can appreciate what they were trying to do with this episode. Here are the do's and don'ts of reconnecting with your ex, according to New Girl:
I wanted to believe that the post-Super Bowl, Prince-guest starring episode of New Girl would be good. After all, the show has been on a little bit of a hot streak after a very dismal start to Season 3 and because Prince is Prince so everything he touches is magic. Unfortunately, not even the magic touch of Prince (which was, by far, the highlight of the episode) could save this from feeling like a forced and overwhelmingly unfunny episode. (That said, Jake Johnson's high-pitched scream after Prince allowed him to freak out, was a thing of comedy beauty.)
Let's ignore, for a moment, that the logistics of Nick's impromptu birthday surprise at the movie theater are pretty impossible and live in the fantasy, shall we? It was sweet and ridiculously romantic and set our already-unrealistic expectations for love even higher than most sitcoms. New Girl, when it's great, is a top-notch romantic comedy and "Birthday" was no exception. (Much like Season 2, it looks like Season 3 is picking up steam in the second half.) Sure, they've turned Jake Johnson's Nick Miller from a relatable slacker into a dreamboat boyfriend, while Zooey Deschanel's Jess has regressed to a cliché of herself. In fact, at one point in the episode she wishes she could be a cool girl in the movies "who wears men's shirts and sneakers," which sounds a whole lot like Deschanel's character in (500) Days of Summer. Still, if New Girl is destined to be a romantic comedy instead of an ensemble sitcom, it's doing a good job of it -- when the show is clicking, it is both very romantic and very funny. Here are the do's and don'ts of birthday surprises from "Birthday":
New Girl writers, you sneaky little devils, you. In the midst of a slump you figured out a way to get the show back in its late Season 2 groove: instigate sexual tension between Nick and Jess again. Genius. When New Girl hit its creative stride in the second half of Season 2, it was when Nick and Jess were at their will-they-won't-they greatest and since they've settled down, that magic spark has pretty much fizzled. That is, until last night's episode "Basketball," which found the two flirtatiously teasing each other just like the good old days…and dammit, it worked. "Basketball," not only put the wheels in motion for Schmidt and Winston story lines involving their respective careers, but it was the most fun I've had watching Nick and Jess all season. They still don't quite know what to do with Coach, but with this show, there always seems to be an odd man out. Here are the do's and don'ts we learned from "Basketball":
I had mixed feelings about "Clavado En Un Bar", the first new New Girl of 2014. While it made me chuckle at times (and that has barely happened during this disjointed season) and strayed away from making Jess and Nick's relationship the focal point, it still tied things up a little too tidily -- even by sitcom standards -- and relied on way too many flashbacks. Granted, this is a show that uses flashbacks almost to a fault, but unless it uses them in as stellar a way as in the Season 2 episode, "Virgins," it can feel as lazy and uninspired a trope as a clip show.
Ever since Friends went off the air nearly a decade ago, there's been a noticeable absence of great Thanksgiving episodes on sitcoms. New Girl has clearly been trying to fill the void and while the first two efforts -- "Thanksgiving" (Season 1) and "Parents" (Season 2) -- were solid efforts, last night's "Thanksgiving III" proved that the third time isn't necessarily a charm. It probably didn't help matters much that this was a Thanksgiving episode with little to no Thanksgiving, but mostly it was because the mojo of Season 3 is still off. While Schmidt and Winston had some particularly hilarious moments, Coach still feels out of place and the over-analyzing of Jess and Nick's relationship reared its ugly head again. Here now are the do's and don'ts of going camping on Thanksgiving:
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