' ' Cinema Romantico: New Girl: Pilot

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Girl: Pilot

"No Strings Attached", a tepidly received film released earlier this year starring (Oscar winner) Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher as sex buddies, was originally a screenplay titled, uh, "Sex Buddies" that famously turned up on the 2008 Hollywood Black List (the best of the best of unproduced scripts). It was written by Elizabeth Meriweather. One can't help but wonder how much of Meriweather's original "Sex Buddies" vision made it into "No Strings Attached." Was Meriweather a potenial genius stifled by the lameness of director Ivan Reitman? Well, guess who both created Fox's "New Girl" and wrote the Pilot episode? Elizabeth Meriweather. Game on! Show me what ya got!

The mercurial Zooey Deschanel.
Mercurial Zooey Deschanel (note: for the duration of my "New Girl" blogging Ms. Deschanel will be referred to as mercurial because EVERYONE calls her quirky) is Jess Day, a teacher (note: I predict we don't actually see her teaching until Episode 4) who has just had her heart trampled by her boyfriend in the usual philanderous ways. Jess promptly answers an ad for a roommate and moves in with three guys in a spacious apartment. The guys: Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Nick (Jake Johnson). (Wait, wait, wait! Why didn't anyone tell me there was a character named Nick?!) Schmidt is a douchebag, Coach is, well, obviously, and Nick is still obsessed with The Watiress. (Okay, that's not really her name in "New Girl" but, seriously, she's The Waitress.)

Admittedly, the opening moments are a bit suspect. Jess returns to her place pretending to be a stripper to excite her boyfriend who's about to break her heart. This sequence manages to fit in 1.) Lowbrow humor - "Two Boobs Johnson" 2.) Pratfalls - Jess accidentally knocking over a potted plant while poorly executing stripper moves and 3.) Singing - because Zooey Deschanel is a singer, don't you know? The rest of the episode proceeds mostly predictably. Jess sits around crying and watching "Dirty Dancing" and the guys try to get her out of the house to have a "rebound" which goes less than well while they all still find their way to a happy ending. The guys in this initial episode mostly just exist to prop up the lead actress. There are a few decent lines tucked in here and there though usually this has as much to do with the way Deschanel says them (this girl really knows how to employ a pause) then with the lines themselves.

I know that in America we like to judge things within 2.5 seconds and then move on to judging the next thing (which we inevitably also won't like) but this is a Pilot. The "Seinfeld" pilot had Pete's Luncheonette and didn't have Elaine. The "Parks and Recreation" pilot was fairly terrible and now it's the best show on TV. Certainly there have been good pilots in the past but they're not always the harbinger. Pilots can be tough because you're too busy establishing your premise to really let your characters breathe. "New Girl", though, clearly does have a sweet vibe going for it. Rather than serving up a quartet where the massive differences are exploited and they all hate each other yet all live together anyway because, uh, well, you know, they sorta have to so there's a show, "New Girl" presents four people who appear to genuinely like one another and are willing to navigate through their differences. This potentially makes it anti-hipster, I think, which should earn it a few points.

I guess what it really boils down to is this: if I had not locked myself into returning for the next episode on account of my blogging experiment, would I watch it again? Well, it seemed to me that the mercurial Ms. Deschanel (also a producer on the show) spent as much time flirting as acting. Not flirting with another character, mind you, but with me, with you, with us. She was appealing to indie band geeks with her singing and to the nerds with her "Lord of the Rings" references and to the idiots who can't communicate with the opposite sex with her foiled attempts at talking to guys ("Hey, sailor!") and to the Williamsburg residents with her glasses and to the ladies because I just assume all ladies really do get over break-ups by watching "Dirty Dancing" 7 times a day. (Or am I stereotyping? Or was Meriweather stereotyping herself? Never mind).

And if Zooey Deschanel flirts with you, I can't see how anyone wouldn't want to go on a second date.


Wretched Genius said...

Really? 'Cause I don't care how flirty a girl is, I won't be returning if she bores the everloving crap outta me. Again, the only new show this season that has even sort of caught my attention is "2 Broke Girls," and even that one has a few hurdles to overcome before it becomes a must-see show (and like I've said before, Kat Dennings deserves the same kind of dedicated fan following/obession that Zooey has been enjoying for years).

Wretched Genius said...

Though in fairness to Zooey, it should be noted that as soon as I posted that last comment, I immediately jumped over to Youtube and fired up She & Him's "Don't Look Back" video because I had started thinking about her.

Nick Prigge said...

She didn't bore me. I responded to the flirtaciousness.

The guys kinda bored me but then they had to make HER the point in the first episode because it's her show.

They just opened the bottle of wine, man, you gotta let it breathe.

Simon said...

Well, if we're going to break stereotypes, if I ever get dumped, I'm basically gonna watch every violent revenge thriller I can find until my fantasies of decapitating the poor lad come full circle. So.

Nick Prigge said...

Wait, do I have to report you now? Except I don't know who I'd report you to. Never mind. Continue on your way.