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Saturday, October 13, 2012

New Girl: The Complete First Season DVD Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
"New Girl" is a charming, offbeat comedy about friends, flings and modern relationships. After a bad breakup, free-spirited optimist Jess (Zooey Deschanel) moves in with three bachelors who have plenty of issues of their own. Winston (Lamorne Morris) is a former athlete, Nick (Jake Johnson) is a law school dropout, and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is a wannabe womanizer in love with...himself. Together with her super-hot BFF Cece (Hannah Simone), this New Girl discovers that hanging out with the guys can be a challenging - and hilarious - adventure!


Show (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)

"New Girl" is one of the best new shows on television with a great cast of unknowns led by the lovely Zooey Deschanel as the sweet but odd Jess. When the show starts, Jess discovers that her longtime boyfriend has been cheating on her when she comes home early to surprise him.  So she moves out of his house and answers a Craiglist ad to become the fourth roommate in a loft but she finds out that the other three are men and not women like she expected.  

The three men are just as strange and damaged as Jess is and even though they are reluctant to let Jess move in with them they eventually give her a shot.  There's the arrogant preppy Schmidt (Max Greenfield) who wants to sleep with every woman he meets, the perpetually morose Nick (Jake Johnson) who has dropped out of law school and is nursing a broken heart, and Winston (Lamorne Morris) an ex-basketball player who returns back to his friends to rebuild his life.  With Jess comes her best friend CeCe (Hannah Simone) who Schmidt instantly falls in love with.

Over time, their relationship as roommates becomes a lot more as they help each other with their problems and occasionally making things worse.  Each of the characters are stuck at different points in their lives and none of them are quite sure how to make the next step.  Jess keeps getting involved with the wrong men, Nick keeps letting the same girl destroy his life, Schmidt's mouth keeps him in trouble, and Winston is afraid to move forward with women and professionally, not to mention he's still afraid of the dark.  But as the first season ends, they've all become close friends and have made some positive changes in their lives.

The show was funny from the start but for a long time the focus of the show is about how weird and idiosyncratic Jess is and it gets old really quick.  It so overboard that it seems like they are trying out just about every possible quirk for Jess to see what works.  By about the halfway point of the first season, Jess is toned down and more focus is spent on the other characters which just makes the show even better.  Giving a bigger than life character like Schmidt a more rounded character that keeps him from becoming a one note character is a good thing.  
Even though he's still a jerk (he even has a douche-bag jar that he has to keep putting money into when he acts up), he's still has enough vulnerability that keeps him relatable.  One last thing to mention about the cast is the fact that Damon Wayans Jr. was part of the cast in the pilot episode because he thought his other show "Happy Endings," would be cancelled.  When it was given a second season he had to return to it so he was replace by Lamorne Morris.  He's still in the pilot episode because Wayans had been in 80% of the show and it was deemed to be too expensive to refilm the entire episode with Morris so he was just brought in on the second episode.  "New Girl" has a great cast, some funny writers, and nothing is quite like it on television right now.  
Here's the list of episodes for this season set:
Pilot - After leaving her long-time boyfriend, Jess moves into an apartment with three men, and tries to reenter the dating world.

Kryptonite - Nick and Schmidt help Jess get her stuff out of her ex-boyfriend's apartment. Jess also meets her new roommate Winston, who he tries to get his old room back from Schmidt.

Wedding - The guys are invited to a wedding and Nick, fearing to run into his ex, asks Jess to be his date to the wedding. Meanwhile, Winston takes his role as an usher too seriously and gets competitive on the dance floor. Schmidt catches the eye of a lady and also of his frenemy Gretchen, whom he sleeps with at every wedding reception.

Naked - Nick suffers a blow to his self-esteem when Jess walks in on him naked, before his date with his coworker. Meanwhile, Winston gets obsessed with learning pop-culture references online.

CeCe Crashes - Cece convince Jess that Nick sees her as more than a roommate. While Schmidt tries to seal the deal with Cece.

Thanksgiving - Jess wants to do a Thanksgiving dinner because she invited another teacher (Justin Long) she likes but her roommates just want to watch the game and drink beer.

Bells - Jess gets jealous when Winston joins her troubled-youth handbell quartet and instantly becomes a natural. Meanwhile Nick and Schmidt engage in class warfare when the toilet breaks and they each have their own idea of how to get it fixed.

Bad in Bed - Jess asks the guys for advice on how to approach her first night with Paul, leading to messy results. Meanwhile, Schmidt tries to fit in at his Boss's baby shower and Nick gets a new haircut.

The 23rd - The gang goes to Schmidt's holiday office party; Jess frets over an expensive gift from Paul.

The Story of the 50 - The Story of the 50 follows the series of events that leaves to someone anonymously leaving a fifty dollar bill in the d-bag jar. Schmidt is coming up on his 29th birthday, but plans for his party start to erode.

Jess and Julia - Nick asks his new girlfriend Julia to help out when Jess gets a traffic ticket. However, it does more harm than good when the two girls get in a fight.

The Landlord - Jess wants to befriend the landlord in an attempt to teach Nick to stop seeing the worst in everybody.

Valentine's Day - Jess convinces Schmidt to help her land a stranger on her first Valentine's day without a date. Nick spends more time with Julia's assistant than Julia herself, ruining his special plans for the day.

Bully - Jess tries to help out one of her students who is being bullied but she ultimately becomes the next target of the class bully. Schmidt wants to tell the world about his sexcapades with Cece but she wants to keep it a secret. Nick and Julia's relationship is on the rocks after she sends him a cactus.

Injured - The gang worries over the possibility of Nick having a thyroid tumor, while Winston has troubles parting ways with his car.

Control - Feeling Schmidt is too stressed, Jess teaches him how to relax, but trouble quickly arises in the loft. Meanwhile, Winston and Nick argue over money and who owes who what.

Fancyman, Part 1 - A student's weormal althy father asks Jess out on a date. Nick tried to buy a new cell phone. Winston and Schmidt get competitive during a game of trivia.

Fancyman, Part 2 - Jess is bewildered when Russell leaves in the middle of their second date, Nick's friend, Dirk, shows him that college girls are interested in him, and Winston frets after he tells Shelby they both need "space."

Secrets - Jess doesn't know what to do when word gets out about Schmidt and Cece, while Nick realizes he cannot tell a lie.

Normal - Despite Jess's misgivings, Russell spends a weekend at the loft hanging out with the guys. Winston's new radio job allows him to meet Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Nick takes a page from his idea notebook and tries to bring it to life.

Kids - Cece worries that she might be pregnant. Jess agrees to watch Sarah. Nick has a new girlfriend.

Tomatoes - Nick tries to give up dating but he fails to do so. He starts growing tomatoes. Schmidt ends up hospitalized after a sexual encounter with Cece's flatmate. Cece reveals her feelings to Schmidt. Russell and Jess come to the realization that they are not looking for the same thing in a relationship.

Backslide - Jess is still broken up over her sad breakup with Russell; Paul reveals to Jess that he has a girlfriend after they spend the night together; Nick makes a big decision to move in with Caroline; Schmidt meets Cece's grandma and Winston has a wild night out with his boss.

See Ya - Nick can't handle the pressure of his new move in with Caroline and proceeds to get everyone stuck in the desert; Cece makes Schmidt jealous when they talk about the men from her work; Jess and Nick share an adventure with a Coyote.


Video (4 out of 5 stars)

For a DVD this anamorphic widescreen transfer looks really good but I wish it had been released on Blu-ray.  Colors look distinct and appropriate and detail is fairly good although the show has a tendency to look a little soft.  I didn't see any noticeable defects or blemishes  to mar the picture quality.  This is one of the better television DVD transfers I've seen. 


Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

New Girl's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also very good with the dialogue coming across clear and intelligible from the center channel while the rear channels provide some atmosphere and music. There's not a lot of directionality in this mix as it's a dialogue driven show but it works for a comedic show.  There's no audio issues to speak of either.


Extras (4 out of 5 stars)

The extras are spread across all three discs and there's some good stuff included.  I wish there had been more commentary tracks but this is a nice assortment of extras.
  • Commentary On Pilot Episode - Elizabeth Meriwether, Brett Baer, David Finkel, Jake Kasdan, and Katherine Pope talk about casting the show (and why Damon Wayons Jr. left), building the set, what lines were improvised, and more.  They overlap a lot and it's sometimes hard to hear the multiple conversations going on but it's a good commentary that gives insight into how the show came together.
  • Commentary On Bad In Bed - Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris talk about working with Justin Long and joke about what a sex fiend he is compared the character he played on the show.  
  • Dress Like Jess - Zooey Deschanel and Deb Maguire talk about Jess' wardrobe choices and how they first worked together on "Veronica's Closet" which was also was Deschanel's first television job.
  • Auditions With Lamorne - A collection of audition scenes with Morris and the entire cast.
  • Alternate Jokes - Some discarded jokes from the episodes as well as a long list of douchey quotes from Schmidt that would require the use of the douchebag jar.
  • Commentary on See Ya - Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris talk about the season ending episode and how their characters have changed over the season and why they stuck them out in the remote desert together to get past their issues.
  • New Girl: Evolution Of An Episode - Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris and the crew talk about how an episode is put together from the first read through to filming.  This is the most comprehensive look behind the scenes on this set and it was pretty interesting to see their process.
  • Deleted Scenes and Extended Scenes - A collection of deleted and extended scenes that were most likely cut for time since they are all pretty funny.
  • Gag Reel - There's some really funny bits in this but my favorite part was where Schmidt and Nick kept hitting each other in the nuts.  It's lowbrow humor but it's hilarious.
  • Sneak Peek at "Ben and Kate" - An excerpt for an upcoming FOX show that doesn't look that great to me but some my like it. 

Summary (4 out of 5 stars)

New Girl is a very funny show with a great cast and this is a very good DVD set with an excellent picture and sound as well as some great extras too.  While I would have preferred to have this show on Blu-ray, this is still an easy season set to recommend.

Order your copy today! 


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