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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Girl: "Naked"

With the weather starting to turn and the rest of the fall TV slate starting to round into shape, it’s easy to forget that due to FOX’s postseason baseball coverage, this is actually only the fourth episode of New Girl. (Can someone pinpoint for me exactly when The New Girl lost its article? Was Sean Parker/Justin Timberlake involved?) This early on, character swings and reformulations are more easily forgivable, so even though the Jess of “Naked” was such a disappointing regression from the more realistically eccentric Jess from “The Wedding” I won’t be too critical of the show on that front.

More problematic is the reliance on such a hoary sitcom staple in just the fourth episode. No matter how talented the writing staff it’s hard to do much new with one character accidentally seeing another naked. Thus, Jess’s startled laugh and Nick’s subsequent self-consciousness failed to move the needle much. What laughs there were in this plot centered mainly on the amusing euphemisms Deschanel’s Jess came up with to avoid saying the anatomic terms. Even these, though, were Pyrrhic laughs, as they came at the expense of infantilizing Jess to an unsettling degree. The episode got much better once Jess had mastered the art of saying "penis."

The rest of the episode also didn’t inspire much confidence. It seems clear that the show is suffering for having to jettison Damon Wayans, Jr.’s Coach in favor of Winston. The show deliberately kept Winston in the background and separate from the other characters this week, and it’s a distressing sign that they’re having trouble finding stuff for him to do besides watch The King’s Speech and Human Centipede simultaneously.

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