September 21st, 2011
11:21 AM ET
"Adorkable," Fox's summary of Zooey Deschanel's “New Girl,” is pretty spot on.
The new half hour series premiered Tuesday night, and from the first scene - involving stripping, no less - it was hilarious.
Deschanel's Jess Day is a nerdy teacher who was recently dumped by her boyfriend. With nowhere to go, she moves in with three single guys she meets via Craigslist.
Her particular qualities - such as her tendency to sing...a lot - aren't lost on her new roommates Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and (for now) Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.).
Schmidt is the resident lovable jerk while Nick, a bartender, is having a hard time getting over a breakup of his own. Coach, unfortunately, only appears in the pilot and will be replaced by Winston (Lamorne Morris) in the second episode.
Deschanel may be known more for her deadpan humor (“Elf,” “Yes Man”), but she seems very comfortable playing a slightly more animated character than usual. I think she tends to carry most of the comedic weight in the show, and it’s not a bad thing. Some reviewers have said that Jess can be annoying and Deschanel needs to dial it down, but I found her completely likable.
In one of the best scenes, the boys try to give Jess pointers on landing a rebound at the bar, asking her to tone down her natural awkwardness. (She still goes with the "Hey, Sailor" pick-up line, though.)
Eventually, the three wind up being as uncaring about public displays of goofiness as Jess, going so far as to break out into a tone-deaf, broken rendition of “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” in the middle of a restaurant. It gets them all kicked out, but it also showed the guys are looking out for Jess. Definitely the icing for the entire episode. Yes, it was a little cheesy, but not cheesy enough to be unappealing. At least there wasn't a laugh track.
The dynamic between Nick, Coach, Schmidt and Jess feels very natural, so it’s a bit of a letdown that Wayans isn't sticking around (his other show “Happy Endings” on ABC was renewed for a second season). Hopefully Lamorne Morris can fill his shoes, if the show continues.
I thought the pilot was well written, but I'm also hoping the focus stays on Deschanel’s character. While there’s also a lot of room for character development for Nick and Schmidt, I don't think they're the show’s strength. If "New Girl" is trying to avoid becoming another sitcom about friends who live together, the series needs to make sure Jess continues to develop. Having Deschanel in the role definitely improves its odds of succeeding, I think.
So if you watched it, what did you think? Can you see this one sticking around for a season?
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