A review of tonight's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I Fredo kiss you again...
Often, but not always, when networks make episodes of shows available to critics in advance, they tend to be stronger-than-average installments, or at least representative installments. "New Girl" has followed an odd pattern where most of the post-pilot episodes FOX has shown critics in advance have been among my least favorite of the season, like "Naked." (Then again, some of those episodes have been among other people's favorites; comedy, as always, is subjective.)
Early on, I worried that "Injured" was going to continue that pattern for me. It started off clumsily with several bits of Jess slapstick that didn't really work (like trying to put the baby model back together) and a Winston storyline that felt like something the writers originally intended for Nick, then handed it down when they needed to give Lamorne Morris something to do this week. We also got one of the more cringe-inducing cutaway gags of the series with Winston telling jokes at a funeral(*), and even Nick's frustration with Jess wasn't playing in particularly interesting fashion.
And then we jumped forward in time after last call at the bar, when everyone was drunk, Winston was doing an Aaron Neville impression, Cece was rapping, Nick was lamenting the half a zombie novel he wrote, and everything suddenly fell into place. From that point on, the jokes weren't being pushed quite as hard(**), and the characters just hung out and dealt with Nick's potential medical crisis in ways that were sincere at some points, funny at others, and mainly just likable.
(**) Though Schmidt saying that Nick could stand to lose 5 to 7 pounds while they were on the beach seemed like a completely mis-timed joke. Even a drunk Schmidt wouldn't make that observation at that moment, I don't think. Compare that to Schmidt offering to loan him one of his many wallet chains, where a joke at the end of a serious moment didn't feel out of place or out of character.
"New Girl" as a whole still has some rough edges to smooth out, but the show has done a good job of making me enjoy spending time with these five people, in smaller groups or all together, and their long night at the bar and on the beach felt like a good time to low-key it and just observe how everyone would react to a situation that seemed scary and ultimately turned out not to be. It's not the kind of episode they can do on a regular basis, but as a change of pace — and a way to provide depth to relationships to help support the humor in more traditional episodes — it was ultimately very welcome.
What did everybody else think?