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By Tony LaScala · September 27, 2012
New Girl season two debuted with two episodes for our viewing pleasure: “Re-Launch” and “Katie.” While the first episode left me hopeful for a new season full of offbeat humor and quirky chemistry, the second installment left me wondering if the writers understand the definition of continuity.
“Re-Launch” kicks off the season with a clever hook: Jess (Zooey Deschanel) is laid off from teaching and takes an odd job as Schmidt’s (Max Greenfield) shot girl for his “Penis Cast Coming Off” party. The “B” storyline for the episode sees Schmidt trying to re-connect with old flame Cece (Hannah Simone) only to discover she has a new “commoner” boyfriend(as Schmidt describes the portly fellow with thick glasses).
This episode was so engaging that after the first segment I had to go back and rewind my DVR to re-watch the first ten minutes with an “analytical” mindset. The show picked up right where season one left off, with the chemistry among the cast reaching epic status. The connection between the three men and Jess reminds me of the quintessential 80’s film Three Men and a Baby. The show has become a fine example of the modern age of network television, where writers are able to get away with a slew of “penis cast” jokes, as long as the cast continues to be so endearing.
Just when I was thinking to myself “This season is on track for a monster year,” the second episode “Katie” premiered. The plot of the second episode jumped around a lot, but it was essentially about unemployed Jess deciding to make the best of her freedom and date two different men simultaneously: Sam (David Walton) and the burly nerd “Bearclaw” (played hilariously by Josh Gad). Sam is being courted under the false pretenses that Jess is a girl he met on the Internet named Katie. Bearclaw is actually a mix up date, where Nick (Jake Johnson) gives Jess’s number to the wrong guy and Bearclaw shows up. The entire episode was weird and unsettling, as the scenes kept jumping back and forth between the bar and the apartment with very little time for viewers to catch their footing in time and space.
The most bizarre part of the episode is Nick’s encounter with his “future” self (who turns out to be a crazy homeless guy.) Throughout the episode Nick uncharacteristically believes the drifter is a time traveller, and this sent all kinds of red flags up in my analytical mindset. Nick has been established as a bit of dreamer, but this whole plotline was not consistent with the usual tone of the show. The show’s sense of humor has always been quirky yet believable, but with the “Katie” episode it began steering in a more “sitcom-y” direction.
My hope is that the show will revert back to the style of the first episode “Re-Launch” (and the first season) and we can all pretend the second episode didn’t exist. “Katie” was funny in its own way, but it seemed like a script that would have been better served re-written for a different show. The episode didn’t really progress New Girl’s story forward, and could have easily been left out altogether. The good news is that the writing team for New Girl seems to have a good grasp on their audience, and always manages to keep what works and bury what doesn’t. Look forward to another idiosyncratic season.