‘New Girl’ – ‘Kryptonite’: Schmidt happens

Senior Television Writer
09.27.11 54 Comments


A quick review of tonight’s “New Girl” coming up just as soon as I get a new thumb ring…

I was very curious to see “Kryptonite” for a couple of reasons: 1)Because when I like a comedy pilot as much as I enjoyed the “New Girl” pilot, I want to see if the show can keep up the quality or if the pilot was just a case of the writer using every good joke they had for these characters and situation in one script, and 2)Because Damon Wayans Jr. made the strongest impression of the three male roommates, and I wanted to see how Lamorne Morris fit in as the new/old roommate.

On the latter, I’d say that Morris didn’t make much of an impression at all, unfortunately. The “New Girl” producers say they didn’t want to reshoot the pilot with a new actor because they liked how it came together, but the problem is that having spent a half-hour showing three dudes adjust to this magical unicorn-riding creature in their midst, they couldn’t do that all over again with another dude in the very next episode. So Winston is barely introduced at all, and doesn’t seem to be defined by anything except being understandably puzzled by Jess’s presence in his life. There’s no there there at this point.(*)

(*) FOX also made a later episode available for critics to screen, and I put it on immediately after Kryptonite to see if Winston had become a more-defined character. Not so much, so far.

On the larger qualitative point, I thought “Kryptonite” did okay – not great, but not anything to set off red flags just yet.

It wasn’t as funny as the pilot – and the climax with the guys putting on Jess’s floppy hats was so similar to the “Dirty Dancing” serenade last week as to be one of the more blatant examples of the “repeat the pilot 5 more times” phenomenon I’ve seen in a while – but Zooey Deschanel continued to do some good physical comedy (I liked her high dribbling before the flatscreen got busted), Jess finally losing her temper was funny, and I thought Liz Meriwether did a good job of making the ex seem amusingly douchey in a way completely unlike Schmidt. (And Schmidt’s own d-bag tendencies were toned down quite a bit here, instead making him a guy who’s super-neurotic about his own machismo. Probably a better way to go long-term.)

I think “New Girl” is always going to be a balancing act, because Jess is so quirky as to border on cartoonish and/or insufferable – and she unfortunately crosses that line in that mid-October episode – but most of the components I liked in the pilot were still present here, so not a bad start.

I’ll probably skip reviewing for a bit to let the show find its sea legs (or not find them) and check back in later in the season.

What did everybody else think?

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