Getting Back on Track

If you don’t mind I would like to take the quickest of minutes to give dap to something I think really needs some dap-knowledgment.

The amazing turn around of The New Girl.

Hold for applause.

The history of The New Girl can be succinctly summed up as follows:

Season One: Promising
Season Two: Gold
Season Three: God awful

Two main things contributed to the sharp decline and fall from grace of the show. The first was the introduction of Coach, who was in the original sketch of the show but Damon Wayans Jr. dipped out on the show after the pilot when Happy Endings was given a brief stay of execution. This gave us Winston. No complaints about Winston. Well…more on that in a few.

But when Happy Endings was cancelled, The New Girl decided to bring Coach back into the mix, a dicey move for a show that had very quickly and successfully created a tight knit ensemble. It didn’t so much as rock the boat as it commandeered the wheel and veered it recklessly off course.

The next bugaboo for the show was jumping the gun on the Nick and Jess relationship. They waited all of two seasons to bring them together. That’s it. The Office at least waited until season four to bring Jim and Pam together. The New Girl couldn’t wait though and again, just like with the inclusion of Coach, the delicate balance of the show was thrown way, way, way off. Relationship drama doesn’t necessarily suit The New Girl and it not only torpedoed the promise of two of it’s characters, but the entire show dynamic.

Oh and Winston became a weird cartoon character.

And I think Schmidt became a bad guy.

Honestly I’m not sure. I think I’ve blocked the show’s third season from my memory. It was terrible, it wasn’t funny and it was ultimately a bummer. The show made the dreaded On Notice List in March of last year, something that to be perfectly honest, made me kind of sad. I had fallen for it so quickly, with such blind passion, that seeing it fall on it’s face was tragic more than anything. It was a pity. I don’t even know the last time I described something as being a pity. Shitty yes, pity no. Unchartered territory here.

But course corrections are what make life interesting and thankfully, for everyone involved, The New Girl embarked on one and pressed down firmly on the Reset button prior to the start of the show’s current season, it’s fourth. Nick and Jess were no longer together, Winston was less of a cartoon character and actually involved in plots, Coach found his footing and Schmidt became Good Schmidt again. This season has been great- pretty good at it’s worst. Both Nick and Jess found new love (then lost them) and the biggest and smartest move the show has made is make it very Loft-centric. Bottle episode is a term thrown around by people in the know and loosely defined it means an episode that takes place in a bottle- it’s singular and removed from the rest of the world. The New Girl has embarked on a series of bottle episodes with remarkable success. Loose threads of over-arching plots exist, but unlike before, they don’t drive the plot bus. They only make suggestions when it comes to navigation.

Half hour comedies are a tough bird and good ones seem to be rarer and rarer these days. You can’t go a night without a intense, well-meaning hour long drama. But the classic half hour comedy sitcom that is actually good? Well, that’s becoming a hard find. For every Golden God like Parks and Recreation, there’s whatever the hell One Big Happy is. Modern Family used to be a standard bearer, but I for one lost interest at least two years ago when I realized every episode was based on mis-understanding and poor communication. I mean come on, how could a family that close not understand what the other was talking about or be so afraid what someone else might think? Last night’s episode was apparently filmed entirely via iPhones and iMacs. So that’s at least an update of where they are at- the cheap gimmick phase.

And there is a very good chance The New Girl will hit that phase as well. But that’s a year or two away, possibly even more now that they are experiencing this creative rebirth. The New Girl has seemed to do what so many other shows fail to do- realize what they have and realize how best to use it without drifting from their lane. They have a great cast and great actors playing that cast. It’s as simple as that. In the end it’s why shows like Parks and Recreation, the Office– going all the way back to Seinfeld work. Ideas, stories, locations are all great. But you need actors to pull any of it off. The New Girl has the actors. And more importantly, they have the realization of it.

So let’s give some love to The New Girl for pulling off a well-executed course correction. And if you haven’t already, watch this week’s episode– if only for the CeCe/Popcorn machine conversation between Jess and Nick. Easily the funniest thing on television this week.

Which yes, if you’re keeping track, counts every single one of Neil Patrick Harris’ jokes at the Oscars.

Photos: FOX


Categories: Television

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