I’m not gonna lie to you folks. I believe this…whatever you call what we have is…something special. It would be wrong of me to withhold in any way. So, I’m just gonna come out with it. This was my favorite episode of New Girl to date. Before I started covering the show for Blast I gave a prior episode a B+. The episode was “Wedding” and it was my first indication that this show could exceed expectations if they continued to strengthen the guy roommates while keeping the Deschanel charm to controlled bursts of frenzy as opposed to borderline psychotic episodes. The show has been fairly consistent since, but never truly stellar in the joke department. To be fair, this new brand of sitcom is not like the old-school and yet still celebrated method of setup and punchline. “New Girl” employs a mixture of those character-based jokes and wordplay that when done well can be an exercise in daring comedy, and when done poorly can be just plain awkward and frankly self-indulgent. Tonight’s fare was cooked well-done.
Loaded with jokes from beginning to end, my pen couldn’t keep up with its cleverness. At first, I wondered if it was almost narcissistic, calling to much attention to itself, but eventually I got lost in the banter. I was lulled into a state of numb smiles that I hadn’t felt since “Gilmore Girls” was in its prime, dropping pop-culture reference bombs. “Girls” never sacrificed who those delightfully witty Connecticut folk were while making smart comedy cool. Now, the humor on “New Girl” might be a smidgeon more sophomoric than that of the mother-daughter laugh riot, but tonight’s episode equaled its predecessor in Speedy Gonzalez-like joke delivery.
Our story begins at the chronological conclusion. Schmidt is prompted by Jess, Nick and Winston to stuff a fifty in the fabled “Douchebag Jar.” This gem of a prop was employed in the pilot and was for some the catalyst to their early fandom. The jar’s rules are lax to say the least, but the general principle remains that if Schmidt does something totally “douchey” as deemed by his fellow roommates he must pay a fine, the amount of which is determined by the offended party. Some prior examples of douchebaggery include his shipment of “customized customs,” his ignorance as to what 90’s rap group, N.W.A, stood for (he thought it was “Never Walk Alone”), and a newsboy cap/tank top ensemble that Nick immediately made him change. At present time, we are unaware of the offense Schmidt committed to incite such disdain, and so we go back three days, or rather two days before Schmidt’s 29th birthday.
Devastated that his party bus “res” was cancelled in favor of Frankie’s Muniz’s, Schmidt tears up at the prospect of losing his last chance to throw a notorious bash before “the darkness” (turning 3-0). Jess, in all her generosity, convinces Nick and Winston to help her throw him a surprise party. Nick initially declines, warning Jess that she is in over her head. Apparently, Schmidt’s “crowd” known to abbreviate most words to one syllable (ov is oven, ketch is ketchup) and for oddly titled club promotions such as, “Bros Before Hos On the Moon.” Undeterred, Jess prepares a rager sure to impress her sweet yet insufferable roommate. Probably the most “adorkable” moment (as is required per Zooey Deschanel’s contract I presume) was when Jess calls for Schmidt’s stripper asking for “a woman of preferably Asian descent with big boobs and heart of gold…and a crotch of gold.” She then ends the call with, “Thank you Miss Fat Booty, you’re the best!” Dear God, if that didn’t make you smirk sheepishly you have no friggin’ soul.
Occupying the B-story is Nick’s budding relationship with the also cute yet comedically adequate Lizzy Caplan’s Julia. Nick attempts to hide his new boo from the roommates because he interprets her to be high-class: an art history buff and a lawyer. Turns out she finds his buddies awesome, but he still tries to distant himself from what he judges as classless behavior. At first, the “Nick is ashamed” routine felt washed-up, but thanks in large part to Caplan’s execution, this variation still offered the resident straight man a side-plot worthy of Schmidt’s unstoppable laughs in terms of character growth. Julia continuously undermines his efforts to shield her from his more unpretentious side, trying to prove that she is into HIM and not his constrained “upper crest” impression. On the contrary, she most enjoys his horrendous, yet gut-busting Cosby impression (everybody has one) and his distinction as the inventor of the ungodly, alcoholic concoction that is “Bro-Juice.” This theme of caring what other people think persists in Schmidt’s central conflict as well.
Speaking of my man-crush, Schmidt further cemented himself as my favorite new character in comedy. It’s almost as if Fox were kissing up to me by making this first episode back so Schmidt-centric. Well it worked my network minions. You have appeased your Lord! Schmidt is enamored with Jess’s efforts and believes that he just may spark some envious feelings from his former best friend and true douche, Benjamin. Benjamin is clearly one of those old buddies who you knew thought very little of you, but you stayed by his side for the girls, the parties and the connections. Clearly, Schmidt is better than this Hall Of Fame worthy D-bag, but nonetheless his approval matters. Of course, plans go awry when another guest star played by Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder, Matt Besser, shows up as his adult entertainment for the evening. As is customary, Jess’ girlish voice tipped off the good folks at Miss Fat Booty to send out a male stripper. Despite Jess’s demands that he not get naked he insists that he must perform. Therefore, Jess agrees to pay him to showcase his other, less provocative talent: baritone of his gospel choir. Also guest-starring is comedy vet, Rachel Harris, as the vice-prinicpal of Jess’ school who invites herself to Schmidt’s 29th after she catches our heroine stealing from the “Confiscation Station.” What does the seedy, drug hoarding vice-principal bring from her stash? A half-eaten pot cookie.
As Schmidt soaks up every minute of his makeshift celebration, his self-proclaimed “bronemy” or “fremesis,” Benjamin, is not so secretly hating on the whole affair. He disses Schmidt’s party to his face and then asserts he will make a pass at a Jess whether he likes it or not. After Benjamin makes some terribly obvious, actually outright, reference to his penis, Schmidt steps between them to defend his good friend’s honor. And in the biggest twist of the night, who swoops in to pop the Grade A D-bag in the mouth…Julia! Unbeknownst to Nick, Julia harbors a severe anger management issue and is highly trained in martial arts. Horrified and disturbed, but undeniably turned on, Nick kisses Julia as they wait for the police to show. Needless to say the ruckus caused the driver of their school bus turned party-mobile to veer off into a telephone pole. Also reconciling outside the crushed bus are Jess and Schmidt. There’s a sweet, but perhaps too dead-on moment where Schmidt asks Jess directly if he cares too much what people think and Jess bluntly states, “Yeah maybe a bit.” He thanks her for her selflessness and unparalleled generosity. In response, Jess smiles proudly saying, “Anytime.” And it is here where we realize, what constituted Schmidt’s douchiest offense yet. His Bro-Juice influenced synapses misfire and he interprets her gleaming as an invitation AAAAAAND leans in to kiss her. He stops midway, thankfully, Jess leaning back in shock. He immediately claims she had fuzz on her face, but we all know the deal. As we, the viewing public, have all experienced, he was sucked in by her man-boy seduction powers, luring him in to a whirlwind of quirky sexcapades…or you know, something like that.
Complete with an almost flawless ending montage, we’re blessed with a plethora of Schmidt’s past D-bag Jar related crimes, “Story of the 50” could have made me burst aloud with, dare I say, girlish giggling at any moment. Fortunately, for all of us, I was preoccupied slightly as I had lost something valuable prior to viewing and was wracking my brain during commercial breaks and retracing. Full disclosure, I misplaced the cap to the milk gallon. Funny story, it fell into my six-pack of Dos Equis. True story. Anyway, I share this because had it not been for my traumatic experience I would have been holding my belly in pain often at many of the quotable, and at times, unquotable triumphs of comedy writing. I think I speak for many TV fanatics when I say it is a pleasant surprise to see a network show not on NBC’s Thursday night that is paying attention to what works, making the necessary amendments as the first season airs, and using those details and carefully crafted characters to orchestrate some major payoffs. As long as the payoffs are not cheap, and not elicited through contrived “will-they or wont-they” nonsense as many shows with young, attractive actors are often prone, nay, vulnerable to, then this will be a beautifully ridiculous roll in the hay (I’m not ready for a commitment at this point in my life). For sheer hysterical quantity that can boast quality as well, I shall award the “New Girl” with her first highest grade to begin the semester: an A-.
L.O.L.Ls: Laugh Out Loud Lines
This list very well could be as long as my review, but I shall narrow it down to a Few Good Lines.
– “…and a steering wheel in the shape of a boob. You honk the nipple. It’s actually pretty cool.”
– Schmidt’s birthday song! “We built this Schmity! We built this Schmity on tootsie rolls…” Benjamin: “Ha, because he was fat!”
– Nick avoiding questions about his date with Julia: “I’m just…mumble, mumble, mumble.”
– Schmidt on his stripper persona: “Luxury, dessert, I’m a warrior poet, man.”
– Schmidt describing his testicles:
Male stripper- “Are they more or less symmetrical?” Schmidt- “Size, yes. Location, no.”
Just SOME of Schmidt’s past contributions to the douchebag jar…
“Ooo Jess, I just found a Groupon for hypnosis lessons. Just think about what you could do with that. Sex stuff.”
“Have you seen my sharkskin laptop sleeve?”
“Nick! I came up with the best name for an uncircumcised penis. Bishop in a turtleneck!”
“Dammit! I cannot find my driving moccasins ANYWHERE!”