15
Jan
2014
New Girl: Season 3, Episode 12
Basketsball
Sam


This third season of New Girl hasn’t lived up to its breakout second season. That’s OK since the second season was so good, something falling beneath that is not necessarily such a bad thing. One of the biggest problems of the season has been the continued underutilization and characterization of Winston and now Coach, who gets a bit more slack because he was just re-introduced as a character. However, the show manages to tap into the charm of the Nick-Jess relationship, even if its still clear they don’t know entirely what direction to take with it. Also after the boondoggle that was the start of Schmidt’s third season, Max Greenfeld continues to be a standout supporting player. CeCe’s new gig as bartender should be enough to tell you how little is going on with her.

“Basketsball”, the obviously correct way to say ‘basketball’ and the name of this week’s show, encapsulated much of what is wrong (and still right) about New Girl. Jess is struggling to become friends with Coach. She just wants to get to know him. Thus far he’s just kind of been ‘there’, but not a part of the group. Weird, kinda sounds like Jess addressing the very problem I’ve had with Coach since his return.

After quitting his job, Winston want to shadow Schmidt around his office at the marketing firm. Like Winston has been throughout the show, he’s a blank slate looking for a direction. He’s trying to make a choice in his life and he wants to figure out who he is – for his sake and the audience’s. These two storylines show some self-awareness which is a positive, and the events of “Basketsball” may have the show taking a step in the right direction again.

It was still typically funny. Nick’s frustration as Jess pretends to be a Pistons fan (Nick’s a Bull’s fan) is great and their no-sex showdown is equally entertaining. Again though, Coach is just there watching basketball, being quiet. Jess’ personality, something the writers of New Girl have an excellent grasp of, shines through. She wants to be friends with Nick’s friend. She doesn’t just want to be “Nick’s girlfriend”. She’s fun too! The problem I largely had was that Coach was just like an immovable object. Luckily he feels bad after she reveals her plot for friendship and eventually opens up a bit. While the characterization I was looking for didn’t really develop all that much this week, it makes it sound like there is a willingness to explore Coach further in the future and that’s a good thing.

As for Winston, his story started out his him shadowing Schmidt, but that quickly gets scrapped when an older replacement comes in. Winston finds out it isn’t really the life for him and that’s that. But at least the show is exploring Winston’s journey. This definitely seems like something the show will continue to focus on throughout the season, even if it alienates him from the rest of the cast. Schmidt’s quest to outsmart the ruthless old man, played by the amazing character actor Bob Gunton, carries the comedic weight of this B-plot thanks to some hilarious old-man anti-Semitism.

I know nobody gets points for trying, but New Girl impressed me this week with its acknowledgement that Coach needs to become friends with Jess (who is us, FYI) so that we can enjoy hanging out with him as much as Nick and Schmidt. Winston’s job hunt will keep a spotlight on him that goes beyond the usual “WINSTON’S CRAZY, YOU GUYS!” And that felt refreshing.

Finally, this episode gave me warm and fuzzy feelings about the Nick and Jess relationship that has had people going back and forth on how warm and fuzzy the whole thing was. I enjoyed the little warpath they each paved, but their passion and love for each other was kind of brimming to the surface. It was a wonderful reminder why they got these two into a will they-won’t they relationship in the first place. Nick and Jess (Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel) have excellent chemistry. Now I’m just glad that they acknowledge the show could be even better.

Grade: A-

Notes:

-“Advertising is a dog drinking beer, a fat moron falling down the stairs. Snot nosed brat kicking his rapping grandpa in the testicles. I’m in marketing Winston, the backbone of capitalism. Without it you’d be dead.”- Schmidt speech still tops.

-Winston likes the buttflap on onesie pajamas

-Whales and Dolphins – Jess’ example of a rival before getting to Les Miserables

-“They’re gonna hold a ticker tape parade for you…in the Jewish part of town.”

-I can only imagine Nick’s pain as he watches Jess shit on the bulls and wear a Pistons shirt to bed.

-Jess needs her vitamin D.

-Do my berries make you hungry? – Nick dressed in short shorts and a Derek Rose jersey.

-Nick’s speech about not trusting technology is also a fantastic bit of character.

-“It’s got to get her going, daddy needs his cookie.”

-Jess feels rightfully dissed for just being “Nick’s girlfriend”

-How do you bring down an old executive? Make them deliver a Power Point presentation.

-“Got me this time, Hebrew. But I’ll be back.”

-Hey, maybe Winston will be a cop!

-SPECIAL NOTE EARLIER: LAMORNE MORRIS DOES EPIC DENZEL

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