Monday, September 19, 2011

Fox Fall Pilot Review: New Girl - Premieres September 20; 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Award Winners

New Girl

New Girl - Tuesdays 9:00PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 9:00PM ET/PT


A new comedy series from executive producer and writer Liz Meriwether (No Strings Attached), New Girl features a young ensemble cast that takes a fresh look at modern relationships.

After a bad break-up, Jess Day (Zooey Deschanel) needs a new place to live. An online search leads her to a great loft...and three single guys she's never met before. But Jess moves in, and through her unique sense of self and the support of her new roommates, she learns to move on.

Of her three new male roommates, Nick (Jake Johnson) is the most grounded...and also the most jaded. A law school dropout, he spends most of his time hiding under his hoodie and tending bar. Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is a hustling young professional who's pretty proud of his own abs. Winston(Lamorne Morris), is an intensely competitive former athlete who doesn't know what to do next-but whatever he does, he wants to win it.

In the pilot episode, Jess also meets Coach (guest star Damon Wayans Jr.), a personal trainer with a bit of an anger problem, who's subletting a room.

Rounding out the group is Jess' childhood best friend, Cece (Hannah Simone), a model with a killer deadpan. As their relationships progress, these five realize they need each other more than they thought they would and end up forming a charmingly dysfunctional - or strangely functional - family.

Cast Details:

Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day
Jake Johnson as Nick
Max Greenfield as Schmidt
Lamorne Morris as Winston (beginning with the second episode)
Damon Wayans Jr. as Coach (pilot episode only)
Hannah Simone as Cece

Zooey Deschanel (Jess Day) is an entertainer in every sense of the word, bringing the classical leading lady back to the modern audience with her old-fashioned charm. Her starring roles in (500) Days of Summer opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Yes Man opposite Jim Carrey cemented her mainstream presence. This summer, Deschanel co-starred in My Idiot Brother opposite Paul Rudd and Elizabeth Banks, and wrote and performed original music for Disney's Winnie the Pooh.

After making her feature film debut in 1999 in Lawrence Kasdan's Mumford, Deschanel's breakout performance was in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. She earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Lead Actress for All the Real Girls and lent her voice talents to the animated feature Surf's Up. Deschanel played the lead in the hit Emmy® Award-nominated mini-series Tin Man. Her additional credits include The Good Girl, Eulogy, the holiday classic Elf, Failure To Launch, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Bridge to Terabithia, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Live Free or Die, Flakes, Gigantic, The Go-Getter, The Good Life, Winter Passing, The Happening, Abandon, Big Trouble and Your Highness.

Jake Johnson (Nick) is in his second collaboration with executive producer/writer Liz Meriwether after the feature film comedy No Strings Attached. Johnson's credits include Paper Heart opposite Michael Cera and Charlyne Yi and Ceremony with Uma Thurman. He recently wrapped production on the feature film adaptation of 21 Jump Street opposite Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum and the comedies Ass Backwards and Safety Not Guaranteed with Kristen Bell and Aubrey Plaza. Johnson will next be heard in the upcoming animated Fox series Allen Gregory as the voice of "Joel Zadak."

Max Greenfield's (Schmidt) breakout role was in the 2004 indie film Cross Bronx, which won awards at the Tribeca, Cinevagas and Urban World Film Festivals. Greenfield's first series regular lead role was on the comedy series Modern Men, although he is best known for his recurring roles as "Leo D'Amato" on Veronica Mars, "Nick Pepper" on Ugly Betty and most recently as "Michael" on Greek.
His television credits include Raising the Bar, Castle, Lie to Me, No Ordinary Family, Hot in Cleveland and Happy Endings. He has also appeared on Gilmore Girls, Boston Public, Sleeper Cell, The O.C. and Melrose Place. Greenfield also starred in the feature film When Do We Eat.

Lamorne Morris (Winston) hails from Chicago and attended the College of DuPage in Illinois, where he studied acting on a Chris Farley Memorial Scholarship. In 2003, he started performing at The Second City and Improv Olympic. In 2006, he moved to New York to work for BET and performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and The Pit. He moved to Los Angeles in 2008 to pursue film and television. His credits include The Assistants and The Middle, as well as numerous national commercials.

Hannah Simone (Cece) makes her television series acting debut on New Girl. She most recently served as the host of WCG: Ultimate Gamer, a reality show set in the gaming world. Simone started in the entertainment business at age nine as an actress gracing stages around the world. Her stage career led her to host a cable home-design show before joining Canada's largest music channel, MuchMusic. She served as the host for Much News Weekly and The New Music, as well as hosting live red-carpet events such as the MuchMusic Video Awards and television specials such as MuchTalks: Climate Change and MuchTalks: AIDS. She recently completed work on Sati Shaves Her Head, a short film directed by Tejal Shah based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" - In the debut episode, Jess Day (Deschanel) discovers her long-term boyfriend is cheating on her and decides to move into a loft apartment with three male roommates – prickly bartender Nick (Jake Johnson), womanizer Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and intense personal trainer Coach (guest-star Damon Wayans, Jr.). The guys, alongside Jess’ childhood best friend Cece (Hannah Simone), try to help Jess get back on her feet and into the dating world.

Written by Liz Meriwether
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Guest Stars: Mary Elizabeth Ellis as Caroline, Gillian Vigman as Kim, Ian Wolterstorf as Spencer, Ashton Swinford as Spencer Girl, David Neher as Benjamin, Andy Scott Harris as Goraning Boy, Hayley Marie Norman as Hot Hostess, Lauren Dair Owens as Young Jess, Steve Bannos as Cab Driver, Porter Kelly as Woman on Bike

Analysis:

New Girl is a single-camera ensemble comedy. There's no laugh track added. The show is produced by Chernin Entertainment in association with 20th Century Fox Television. The series is created, produced and written by Liz Meriwether. Jake Kasdan directed the pilot and will continue to direct future episodes of the series. Zooey Deschanel performs the theme song that is written by Michael Andrews, Liz Meriwether, David Finkel, Brett Faer and Zooey Deschanel. Damon Wayans, Jr. appears as Coach in the pilot episode only. Due to the renewal and his commitment to Happy Endings, a new character will be brought in for the second episode. Lamorne Morris will play Winston Bishop, who will be returning from a professional basketball career in Croatia.

In the pilot episode, Jess meets three single guys and decides to move into their apartment loft. There's a flashback scene from two weeks ago where Jess is talking to her friend Cece on the phone. Jess discovers that her boyfriend Spencer is cheating on her and answers a Craigslist ad for a new apartment. The guys ask her some questions and she tells them a little about herself. Jess cries while watching Dirty Dancing. They later go to a bar and Jess meets Peter who asks her out. The guys talk to Jess' model friend, Cece, while Jess gets ready for her date. Nick meets Caroline at the party and asks her why he dumped him. After learning that Jess has been stood up on her date, the guys leave the party to go and console her. In a funny closing scene, everybody joins in for a song.

Zooey Deschanel makes this show very watchable. She's so adorable and funny. If it were any other actress in the role, I don't think I would have as much interest. The pilot is pretty decent, but it feels a bit rushed. They have to cover a lot of ground in around 24 minutes, so there's not really much backstory given for the characters. It sets up the basic premise and introduces us to the characters. This single-camera comedy is shot much like a movie. There are many different scenes at various locations. Several flashback cutaway scenes are used to nice effect, including one with a young Jess. There's also a number of songs used in the pilot, including Time of Your Life from Dirty Dancing several times. Ludwing Goransson provides a nice comedic and tender musical score.

Conclusion:

Zooey Deschanel is perfectly adorkable (both adorable and dorky) in her first lead television role. I've been a fan of her from films such as (500) Days of Summer and Yes Man. It's not always an easy move from films to the small screen, but she makes a very smooth transition. She has great comedic timing, facial expressions and cute mannerisms. Besides being a fine actress, she's also a talented singer. She puts her voice to nice use with the show's theme song and her character sings several times in the pilot. Hopefully her singing will be a big part of the show.

There's a lot to like about the pilot. It doesn't have the rapid fire amount of jokes as a traditional multi-camera comedy, but there are some funny moments and the cast seems to have good chemistry. The show is well cast and the trio of guys make for a nice ensemble. It's a bit unfortunate that they are losing Damon Wayans Jr. after the pilot. He had some funny scenes in the pilot with his Coach character and his anger problems. Lamorne Morris will be brought in for the second episode as Winston, so hopefully they won't lose a beat with him as a replacement. Justin Long will also have a recurring role as a love interest for Jess in future episodes.

New Girl has a great time slot after Glee and should do well in the ratings, especially in the 18-49 demo. I think it's a much better fit after Glee than Raising Hope was last season. Zooey Deschanel is already a pretty big film star, so it would not be a huge surprise if she's this season's breakout TV star.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3.5/5
Funniness: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 09/19/11

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, September 20 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • New Girl Photo Gallery


    Preview:








    The 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air tonight on Fox at 8/7c. As always, here are our picks on who will win. Come on back tomorrow to see who the winners were and how many we got right!

    OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
    Glee (Fox)
    Parks and Recreation (NBC)
    The Office (NBC)
    Modern Family (ABC)
    30 Rock (NBC)
    The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
    WINNER: Modern Family. No surprise and well deserving! Got this right.

    OUTSTANDING LEAD COMEDY ACTOR
    Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock (NBC)
    Tony Shalhoub, Monk (USA Network)
    Louis C.K., Louie (FX)
    Steve Carell, The Office (NBC)
    Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
    Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
    WINNER: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory. Another no surprise and well deserving! Got this right as well.

    OUTSTANDING LEAD COMEDY ACTRESS
    Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
    Laura Linney, The Big C (Showtime)
    Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation (NBC)
    Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly (CBS)
    Tina Fey, 30 Rock (NBC)
    Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope (Fox)
    WINNER: Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly. The first surprise, as we predicted Poehler.

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING COMEDY ACTOR
    Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family (ABC)
    Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family (ABC)
    Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men (CBS)
    Ed O'Neill, Modern Family (ABC)
    Chris Colfer, Glee (Fox)
    Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC)
    WINNER: Ty Burrell, Modern Family. Well deserving! And we got this one right, Phil Dunphy, yo!

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING COMEDY ACTRESS
    Betty White, Hot in Cleveland (TV Land)
    Julie Bowen, Modern Family (ABC)
    Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock (NBC)
    Sofia Vergara, Modern Family (ABC)
    Kristin Wiig, SNL (NBC)
    Jane Lynch, Glee (Fox)
    WINNER: Julie Bowen, Modern Family. We picked Vergara, but Bowen was my second option. Both were well deserving. Very happy for the beautiful Julie Bowen!

    OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
    Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
    The Good Wife (CBS)
    Friday Night Lights (DirecTV)
    Mad Men (AMC)
    Dexter (Showtime)
    Game of Thrones (HBO)
    WINNER: Mad Men, AMC. Got this one right, too.

    OUTSTANDING LEAD DRAMA ACTOR
    Hugh Laurie, House (Fox)
    Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights (NBC)
    Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
    Timothy Olyphant, Justified (FX)
    Michael C. Hall, Dexter (Showtime)
    Jon Hamm, Mad Men (AMC)
    WINNER: Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights, DirecTV. We picked Hamm, but Chandler isn't really surprising since this series just ended.

    OUTSTANDING LEAD DRAMA ACTRESS
    Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men (AMC)
    Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights (NBC)
    Kathy Bates, Harry's Law (NBC)
    Mireille Enos, The Killing (AMC)
    Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
    Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife (CBS)
    WINNER: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife. Another correct one for us. This was sealed probably since last year. Emmy voters love this show.

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING DRAMA ACTOR
    Walton Goggins, Justified (FX)
    Josh Charles, The Good Wife (CBS)
    Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age (TNT)
    John Slattery, Mad Men (AMC)
    Alan Cumming, The Good Wife (CBS)
    Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (HBO)
    WINNER: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones. Yeah...got this one right, too.

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING DRAMA ACTRESS
    Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
    Michelle Forbes, The Killing (AMC)
    Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife (CBS)
    Christine Hendricks, Mad Men (AMC)
    Christine Baranski, The Good Wife (CBS)
    Margo Martindale, Justified (FX)
    WINNER: Margo Martindale, Justified. We didn't expect this one, so sort of surprising but this category was wide open.

    View the full list of winners.

  • Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Sunday, October 20

    The Simpsons - "Treehouse of Horror XXX" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Milhouse is trapped in another dimension; dead Homer's spirit tries some new bodies on for size; Selma finds love in an unlikely place.

    Bless the Harts - "Cremains of the Day" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Violet, David and Leonard take Wayne on a ghost hunt to cure his fear of ghosts; Jenny and Betty honor Jenny's late father on his favorite holiday.

    Bob's Burgers - "Big Trouble in Little Tina" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Things get spooky when Tina dissects a pig in science class; Bob and Linda battle a giant ball of ear wax.

    Family Guy - "Disney's The Reboot" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    After the network decides it is time to reboot the series, three versions of the reboot are shown to a focus group, which produces some surprising feedback.

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    Sunday, October 20

    • Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) - Catch Alec on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 12:05am on NBC.


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