September 11, 2011

TV: New Girl (Fox, Tue 9)

In advance of the show's September 20 premiere, Fox is making the first episode of New Girl available for free at iTunes.

The show stars Zooey Deschanel, who is one of the more polarizing actresses of recent years, with audiences finding her quirky winsomeness either completely adorable or insufferably twee. I'm generally on the "adorable" side of that fence, but she's cranking the quirk up to about 15 in this pilot, and I begin to understand the haters' POV.

Deschanel is Jess, who needs a new apartment after breaking up with her boyfriend, and moves in with three guys. The only one of the three with any discernible personality is Coach, played by Damon Wayans, Jr., and he's being replaced after the first episode (because ABC unexpectedly renewed Happy Endings at the last minute); he's a personal trainer with a bit of an anger problem, and his relationship with Jess is fairly funny.

The other guys are Nick (Jake Johnson) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield); Nick is marginally the more sensitive of the two, but both are prone to moderate douchbaggery. They are, at least, aware of this tendency; one of the show's better running jokes is that the guys have a "douchebag jar," in which they have to place a dollar when the others catch them in particularly obnoxious behavior.

But the show is all about Deschanel, and though I do find her likable, she's pushing the limits here. Melodramatic weeping to repeat viewings of Dirty Dancing, constant singing to herself, bizarre dancing about the room -- she's going to have to turn the quirk way down for the show to work.

So I'm a bit nervous after the first episode, with the show losing its most amusing supporting character and Deschanel desperately in need of being reined in, but I have enough faith in her to keep watching for another week or two.

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