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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Girl gets "Naked"

     In the first new episode of FOX's New Girl to air in weeks, Jess (Zooey Deschanel) walks in on Nick (Jake Johnson) dancing "Naked." Her laugh / scream takes away any confidence he has in himself, and ruins his date with co-worker Amanda (Lake Bell, Childrens' Hospital, How to Make It in America). Jess scrambles to fix things between them, but Nick doesn't make it easy, with his refusal to talk about his feelings. Schmidt (Max Greenfield) becomes resentful because he is the only one in the apartment who hasn't viewed Nick's genitals, and Nick refuses to correct that injustice. Winston (Lamorne Morris) ignores all the drama, realizing he has two years of pop culture to catch up on, and glues himself to the internet.

     Lake Bell is amazing. She is sexy, brave with the comedic moments, and a very talented actress. Because she plays someone that works with Nick, it opens the door for a recurring role. Except she's already starring in two cable series currently airing. Which means it is very unlikely that she will ever become someone seen regularly. This is too bad, because Amanda has some potential. Her sarcasm may be a bit that will get annoying quickly, but she could grow and develop. Plus, her awkwardness with Nick after the disastrous bedroom scenes, plural, is good to milk for at least one more installment.

     New Girl has already discovered who it is, just four episodes into the freshman run. That's quite a feat for a new series. It's not a perfect show, yet. With all of Jess's charm, including her ad-libbed singing, she can still get on the nerves when she can't bring herself to say "penis." It's the childishness that is a bit of a turn off. However, Deschanel commits fully to the character, and much of the questionable behavior will likely fade away as the character grows. Her relationship with the roommates, and the types of situations that this situation comedy tackles, though, are solid and enjoyable. Overall, New Girl falls firmly in the 'win' column.

     Is New Girl setting up Nick and Jess for romance? They are the most similar, in terms of dating experience and preference. They also are the most developed characters on the series, with Schmidt and Winston taking more a supporting, goofy role...for now. It would not be surprising if the show goes for a Nick / Jess pairing. But considering the roommate situation, and the series premise, it would inevitably end in a break up, with pining and depression. All this would not be a total mistake, but there's a definite feeling that New Girl will be better if they keep Jess platonic with all three of her co-habitants. Certainly, it would be more original to do so.

     "Naked" brings out the creepy in Schmidt, which is actually a good place to go with that character. Because Schmidt is such a d-bag, fans won't want to see him get lucky with a lot of girls. In fact, he deserves some humiliation first, so he can grow into a better man. Until this happens, making him pathetic, and obsessing over things like seeing his best friend's junk, is pure comedy gold, so there is no reason not to go for it.

     Winston is still somewhat of an enigma. Missing from the first episode, the former professional basketball player (in Latvia, though he's American), isn't a natural fit with Jess. Which works out quite well. He doesn't really gel with this week's plot, so he is given his own. There are a few references thrown in here that will date the episode in syndication, but overall, it works out OK, giving a slight bit of insight into the type of man Winston is, while avoiding forcing him into a situation where he doesn't belong. Good job.

     Watch New Girl Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

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