Review: ‘New Girl’ – ‘What About Fred?’: Date the parents?

A quick review of tonight's “New Girl” coming up just as soon as I pretend that I'm about to breakdance…

If the season premiere was on the sloppier (if still often funny and likable) end of the “New Girl” spectrum, “What About Fred?” was a reminder of just how effective the show can be when it keeps things even a little tighter.

The title story in particular was a great showcase for guest stars Henry Winkler, Julie Hagerty, and Taran Killam (whose breakdance preparations were funny enough to get an expanded showcase over the closing credits), but also for the underrated Jess/Winston pairing, as both fell hard for Flip and Nancy and had to figure out how much they were willing to put up with Fred. The plotting was clear and simple enough that there was room to let Fred go on and on and on and on and on about his model trains, in a scene that was as wonderful for everyone else's reaction to it (Flip's ashamed bow of his head was hysterical) as for the show's commitment to letting the bit run long enough for us to fully appreciate why Jess can't stick with this guy just to maintain proximity to his parents.

It's been so long since the show's been on the air that I had forgotten all about Nick and Schmidt partnering up to buy the bar. But the B-story suggests it'll be a fruitful ongoing dynamic, as Nick's pathological inattention to detail will weigh much more heavily on Schmidt now that there's money at stake. Also, now that Cece and Schmidt are a couple again, she needs a new character on whom she can vent her disdain, since that's the most effective weapon in Hannah Simone's comic arsenal. Seeing Cece switch abruptly from defiance with Nick to sweetness with Schmidt was a fine running gag. Though if I'm being honest, I'd have approved of the subplot even if it had nothing to offer beyond Schmidt telling the staff, “Save your groans for 'Birdman'!”

What did everybody else think?