A review of tonight’s “New Girl” coming up just as soon as I dress up as your Aunt Frida at a seder…
Where “Fancyman, Part 1” felt like “New Girl” hitting a new level by getting all of the show’s disparate, uneven elements to click at the same time, the conclusion to this two-parter in name only (Russell is, after all, not going anywhere just yet) was still quite funny but not as uniformly strong.
This is two extremely strong Nick episodes in a row. Where last week flipped his usual attitude upside down, here he was back to being sad and depressed and directionless – only this time he was funny in his depression. The alcohol helped, but so did the position he was put in by his pal Dirk(*), as he discovered how to play Fancyman to a group of college girls with much lower standards than Jess. The line “They don’t know what ‘Saved by the Bell’ is and they’ve never felt pain!” is among the more amusing sentences to come out of any character’s mouth so far in this series, and if Nick seemed to go past drunk and into some kind of psychotropic haze by the final scene, I did enjoy how Nick’s misguided belief in Dirk’s genius was only amplified by all the booze.
(*) Played by Martin Starr, which, after Lizzy Caplan, puts “New Girl” 1/3 of the way through re-creating the “Party Down” cast (or 2/7 if you’re including both seasons). Adam Scott and either of Jane Lynch or Megan Mullally have series commitments at the moment, but surely Ryan Hansen could play one of Schmidt’s even douchier friends, while Ken Marino could have a history with virtually any of the characters. (Maybe he’s the gym teacher at Jess’ school?)
Where the Fancyman stuff felt a little disappointing after last week – which did, after all, inspire an entire podcast segment where I apologized to Dermot Mulroney – is that the Jess/Russell material seemed flatter than last week. I don’t know if that’s on Mulroney and Zooey D so much as the idea of Jess making a fool of herself because Russell is bad at dating isn’t as inherently interesting or funny as Jess making a fool of herself because Russell is more awesome than she could possibly imagine. Fortunately, Russell’s not going anywhere yet (and, yes, I did say “fortunately” about the prospect of a Mulroney-played character continuing on a show, so black is definitely white and up is definitely down this week), so hopefully his next appearance will be more at the level of “Fancyman, Part 1.”
And on the plus side, the non-Russell portion of the episode flipped from one where Schmidt is on the sidelines joking about a Winston relationship to one where Winston was (mostly) on the sidelines being horrified by the discovery of Schmidt and Cece’s affair. The “sex-retary” running gag was a good one(**), even before Cece finally decided to give in and let Schmidt play the boss for once. (Schmidt explaining the difference between a sex-retary and a sex receptionist was a particularly nice, character-specific gag.)
(**) Though ideally, they’d have separated sex-retary and “manbulance” into separate episodes, so it’s not just Schmidt coming up with buzzwords.
And, heck, even the Winston/Shelby story had some good gags, whether Winston singing passionately along with “Defying Gravity” (as you do) or his rambling voicemail message about wanting to breathe into each other’s mouths until it all turns into carbon dioxide and they both pass out. Again, I think Lamorne Morris has demonstrated often enough that he can be funny if given actual material to play – and, preferably, material that, over the passage of time, suggests a consistent character and not just Not Coach – and this episode was one of his better showcases.
What did everybody else think?