“MA CALLED! THE BEES ARE BACK!”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
New Girl is a show that ever since the end of Season 1 has been in a state of constant change. Whether character goals shift, romantic entanglements occur, or careers are shaken up, one of New Girl’s strengths was the way it never seemed to let its characters rest. They are always changing the status quo and keeping things fresh, and more importantly, funny. Which is why it’s odd that it seems the show’s fourth season has hit the reset button, bringing most, if not all the cast, back to square one and beginning anew. There’s something to be said for starting with a clean slate (as many sitcoms do), but it’s baffling in the case of New Girl particularly that it’s decided to fix something that, by and large, wasn’t broken.
The season premiere, “11 Weddings,” played out like an early season one episode, with both the guys and Jess bonding while simultaneously looking for love, oh, and Cece is involved too. “Dice” very much continues the theme, as Schmidt discovers a Tinder stand-in called Dice and begins a week of app-fueled sleeping around. This leads a date-hungry Jess to sign up for the app herself, getting thrown into the perilous world of online dating before asking Schmidt for help. This led to some amusing scenes between the two, including a great scene where Schmidt instructs Jess in the ways of online dating using a board game buzzer and yelling out, “What, do you think this is a game?!” It was interesting to see Jess’ romance-minded dating philosophy clash with Schmidt’s fast paced ambition for hookups, and it led to some excellent one-liners as the two blurted out pre-written excuses for leaving dates early. Max Greenfield continues to be at the top of his game as Schmidt, and it’s in the more outlandish episodes like this that his character really shines. The resolution wrapped things up nicely, with Jess finding the wisdom of her old ways and Schmidt calling one of his hookups for a second date.
The B-story gave a rare focus to Winston, as he yearned to bond with his police academy buddies in one of few continuing plots from last season. Coach observes that once Winston becomes a police officer, they might not be able to do illegal things anymore, and Nick and Cece suggest they partake in some marijuana-infused brownies before they no longer have the option. In the hopes of getting in tight with his fellow cops to be, Winston invites Nick, Coach, and Cece to a party with him unknowing of their partaking in cannabis, and, the rest writes itself. There was a few chuckles to be had here, including Nick’s paranoia about being paranoid and Coach’s relative coherence, and an amusing sequence where the three hide in a closet and discuss their lives. They’re caught, and are let off the hook, but they do earn Winston a nickname and his coveted place among the cadets. While fun enough, this story felt slightly generic at times, and might have relied too much on good ol’ sitcom convenience. There’s nothing wrong with going over well-trodden ground as long as a show puts their own stamp on it, but this episode’s approach left little to be desired in the originality department. At least Jake Johnston is still killing it as Nick Miller, both high and sober.
Taken as a whole, “Dice” is a fine episode. Jess and Schmidt got a pretty good tale, and the rest of the gang engaging in social cops and robbers wasn’t without its charm. But as in “11 Weddings,” the feeling that the show is deliberately sending everyone back to zero was evident. (Twice now Jess has won over her dream guy only to have him suddenly become weird and dumpable in the last minute.) New Girl continues to have a very likeable cast, and is wholly still a funny show, but if Season 4’s one-and-done spirit continues, it’s hard to say if it’ll also be an engaging one.
Are you fine with the return to basics, or do you want more change. Answer in the comments below.
*We do not comment on anything relating to previews for the next episode and beyond.
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