Review: ‘New Girl’ – ‘Julie Berkman’s Older Sister’

Senior Television Writer
10.01.14 16 Comments

A quick review of last night's “New Girl” coming up just as soon as I save you from a hideous river disease…

“Julie Berkman's Older Sister” was the plottiest of the three episodes we've gotten so far. Or, at least, it was the one with stories that in their broadest strokes – Jess disapproves of her father's younger new girlfriend, Schmidt takes desperate measures to win an account – you could see other sitcoms doing. But it was also a reminder of how easily “New Girl” can get distracted from its own storylines in favor of letting the actors do and say random things – and also of why they tend to lean that way, because that tends to be when the show is most fun.

So pretty much everything about the Schmidt/sponge story was a mess on a plot level, yet the whole story was clearly just an excuse for scenes like the failed brainstorming in the loft bathroom, or Schmidt daring Winston to say “pizza” again. And those scenes were funny. And when it came time to actually wrap up the story – with a big assist from an amusingly befuddled Michaela Watkins – the episode delivered with Schmidt's stupid-yet-brilliant pitch for a sponge geared at someone like Nick, which in turn led to that great fake ad for Spongey McWipey at ended the episode.

The Jess story of the title was more solid all-around, and also a welcome opportunity for a Jess/Cece comic pairing. Even though they're best friends, it's really rare for the show to do a story featuring only them and none of the guys. With the men all busy saying “sponge” a lot, Deschanel and Simone got to play off of each other a lot (including the long run about giant George's giardia), and that worked out well, particularly with Rob Reiner as Jess's dad going along with every ridiculous and awful thing that Kaitlin Olson's unapologetic Ashley said.

Not a great episode – and I'm disappointed we never got a full Reiner version of “She's So High” – but enough of the jokes worked, as did the male/female split between the two storylines.

What did everybody else think?

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