Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—New Girl, season 3 (2013-2014) ***½

TV-14, 23 24-min. episodes
Creator: Elizabeth Meriwether

Directors: Max Winkler, Fred Goss, Andrew Fleming, David Katzenberg, Russ Alsobrook, Trent O’Donnell, Nicholas Jasenovec, Eric Appel, Lorene Scafaria, Richie Keen, Alex Hardcastle, Bill Purple, Jay Chandrasekhar, Steve Welsh, Lynn Shelton, Steve Tsuchida

Writers: Elizabeth Meriwether, Kay Cannon, Luhv Rakhe, J.J. Philbin, Rob Rosell, Dave Finkel, Brett Baer, David Feeney, Matt Fusfeld, Alex Cuthbertson, Ryan Koh, Josh Malmuth, Berkley Johnson, Rebecca Addelman, Kim Rosenstock, Nina Pedrad, Camilla Blackett, Sophia Lear

Starring: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greefield, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone, Damon Wayans Jr.

Guest starring: Merritt Weaver, Hamky Madera, Dreama Walker, Eva Amurri Martino, Curtis Armstrong, Mark Proksch, Brenda Song, Riki Lindhome, Jon Lovitz, Steve Agee, Derek Waters, Jillian Armenante, Samuel Gilbert, Taye Diggs, Justin Chon, Jessica Chaffin, Brian Posehn, Bart McCarthy, Hannah Eisenmann, Gillian Vigman, Bob Gunton, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bob Falcone, Angela Kinsey, Josh Gad, Ralph Ahn, Prince, Adam Brody, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Linda Cardellini, Matt Price, June Diane Raphael, Alexandra Daddario, Stevie Nelson, James Frencheville

It’s interesting how with a show like “New Girl” it is really hard to distinguish one season from another. Its Seinfeldian nature is such that it’s never really about anything other these strange personalities existing. This is not a drawback or a restriction to the show but a grandiose freeing of comedic possibilities.

There are always a few things that can be pointed out about each season that are unique. In this season, Nick and Jess finally get together and become a couple. This helped the series avoid the “Moonlighting” syndrome where they tease a romantic possibility for so long that when it finally happens no one really cares anymore. But “New Girl” is so unique, no one in it really seemed to care even though the tease didn’t last the entire length of the series. Their coupling made absolutely no difference in anyone’s relationships whatsoever here, least of all Nick and Jess’s. And when they broke up, still no difference. I think that was a stubborn comedic choice of the series. It kind of frustrated me that since it made so little difference to the characters lives that they would bother to break them up, but… que sera sera.

A more substantial difference this season, however, was the return of the character of Coach, played by Damon Wayans, Jr. When Lamorne Morris replaced Wayans after only the pilot episode as a completely different character, I welcomed the change. I liked Morris’s Winston better than Coach, who seemed a little leery to me in that one episode. I was surprised, however that they didn’t reshoot the episode and omit the Wayans character entirely before the series went to air. As the series continued, Winston became my favorite male character, because he almost seemed more normal than the others except for a few quirks that were way beyond the instability anybody else. But, somehow Coach always hung in the background of my mind. Why hadn’t they cut him out?

As it turns out, the producers liked Wayans and only replaced him because he had accepted a role from another pilot he had filmed that season that had gone to series, ABC’s “Happy Endings”. When that series was canceled, the producers seized on the opportunity to bring Coach back as a recurring character. That should read “recurring” because he appeared in every episode from his first one back, which was midway through the first half of the season. He has since been promoted to series regular starting next season.

This resurrection of Coach was a blessing I never could’ve foreseen. While very different in nature than any of the other characters, Wayans has a charm about him that makes Coach surprisingly lovable. He seems more distant than the rest of the cast at first, but Coach is more observant than the others and yet every bit as crazy. Wayans presence has added a new dimension to the group, which is what any cast addition should do for a series. I’m glad he’s back. I’ll be glad when he’s back again in the fall with the rest of these nutballs.

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