[Normally, this would be Sepinwall's recap. Unfortunately, Alan is still well short of 100 percent and was unable to take his turn at the plate. Since "New Girl" is a show that I enjoy, I figured I'd pinch-hit. This will not be as good as Alan's recap would have been. How's the poem go? "I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do/ To swell a progress, start a scene or two." Or at least I can fill in for a "New Girl" premiere recap. Hopefully Sepinwall will be back soon.]
 
Thanks to "Sports Night," I'll always know the *worst* thing that can happen when a Will They/Won't They couple finally gets partnered up and seems on the verge of happiness. 
 
You'll recall that Casey and Dana spent a season flirting and trying to figure out their feelings for each other, but as we reached Season 2, it looked like the sailing might be smooth. So Aaron Sorkin decided that Dana decided that Casey was too close to his divorce and she didn't want to be a rebound, so she insisted that in order for them to be a couple, he'd have to date other women for six months first.
 
Ugh. Dana's dating plan was the worst.
 
So now whenever a TV couple gets together, as long as the woman doesn't immediately demand that her beau start dating other women, I consider that to be a big win.
 
In that light? It was a great "New Girl" premiere on Tuesday (September 17) night. 
 
Otherwise? Yeah. That was a little rough. FOX made most of its premieres available for critics to view beforehand and "New Girl" was strangely absent, following a season in which nearly every episode was posted early for review. After watching "All In," I'm much less surprised. [Had the "New Girl" premiere been up early, Sepinwall could have reviewed it, too.]
 
A few more thoughts on the "New Girl" premiere just as soon as I pull over for a piñata shaped like a monkey...
 
That episode of "New Girl" happened because the writers were all, "Well, Nick and Jess can't just immediately go back to the apartment after the events of the last finale." And they sat around trying to figure out what Nick and Jess could do and... They never quite figured out. As a default, they went down to Mexico, briefly went native next to a resort and Winston did puzzles. And this was so plot-lite episode was so plot-intensive that there wasn't even time for Schmidt to initiate more than the introduction of what will probably be a pretty protracted farce.
 
And that was all that happened this week.
 
As a stay-away-from-the-apartment dating plan, Jess and Nick spent four days humping by the seaside. 
 
Schmidt was unable to break up with either Cece or Elizabeth. 
 
And Winston did a puzzle. Poorly.
 
Can we discuss Winston and his puzzles? I almost like the idea that the writers have abandoned any semblance of cohesive character for the guy and that they've decided that Winston's personality should be like Murphy Brown's secretary, changing insanely with every passing episode. The great thing about Lamorne Morris is that he could have given up. We've all seen actors who have basically checked out of their shows, who know that they're never going to get anything to do and that they're literally just showing up to fill a certain amount of physical space, collect a paycheck and eventually step into an empty elevator shaft. But not Lamorne Morris. If you tell Lamorne Morris that this week we're going to learn that Winston gets obsessed with puzzles and that he likes to hum and sing to his puzzle pieces and sometimes take his pants off, then Lamorne Morris is going to give you the craziest darned puzzle-doer ever to appear on the TV. Because Winston's actions are almost never cumulative and only occasionally relate to other storylines within an episode, Winston is a deliriously monomaniacal character. Each week, Winston is exactly one thing and he's that one thing to the point of distraction. [Oh and he's also bad with pranks. Whatever else Winston may be, he's *always* bad at pranks.]
 
And what does any of that have to do with the revelation that Winston is also colorblind? That's right! Winston was two things this week: Bad at puzzles and colorblind, which seem like they could go together, but kinda didn't. Being color-blind doesn't prevent you from being able to see shapes on puzzle pieces, so it wouldn't explain why Winston was using almonds as puzzle pieces. So really, Winston being color blind and not realizing that his green shoes weren't brown was the set up for Schmidt's line, "If you think those shoes are brown, what color do you think you are?" 
 
As payoffs go, that was better than anything involving Nick and Jess. They agreed over and over that they were all in. They tried getting a bracelet for a resort, leading to Nick threatening a kid's life and then Nick was taken to resort jail. And that was about it, other than the shredding of a passport, which Winston couldn't assemble well because he's bad at puzzles and... What?!?
 
Was anybody else waiting for a "Planet of the Apes"-style "Nick and Jess were in Manhattan Beach the whole time, but they were too oblivious to realize?" twist? I sure was, because that was a lot of strange stereotyping for a payoff that was... What? The literal payoffs that Schmidt gave to various Mexican hotel workers and one gringo? Again, it all seemed to be an excuse for a toss-off Schmidt line, in this case, "That's for you to send your kids to college, or for you to send some fun up your nose."
 
After 22 minutes, we were left back at the door of the apartment, which was exactly where we could have started the apartment, but at least we know that four days passed. And because four days have passed, Nick and Jess are no longer having a one-night stand and they haven't just been dating for 30 minutes. This episode allowed the writers the pretense of durability for this relationship, or at least let them skip over the possibility of flinginess. 
 
Oh and we know that Cece thinks that Winston is a pervert who wanted to sew her underwear into his underwear, a moment of awkwardness that I'm assuming will never be mentioned again.
 
A few other quick thoughts on a messy episode: 
 
*** Not much for either Hannah Simone or Merritt Wever to do this episode. I buy that Schmidt would be unable to choose between them and that he would instigate a farce of this nature, but I'm not sure why the farce couldn't have played out over a single competently arced episode. We all kinda know which actress is a cast regular and which is a guest star, so let's get down to it, shall we?
 
*** Probably Schmidt's line about Winston's shoes was the line of the episode. Alternatives would include Winston leeringly telling the puzzle he was going to do it on the table, or singing, "Puzzling, Winston is about to do some puzzling." I would also accept Nick running from the Mexican police, getting up to his ankles in the surf and declaring, "I'm in international waters. I've got a shell."
 
*** Or Schmidt describing his relationship with Cece by saying, "I not just a plug with her. I'm also a socket." There were funny lines in the episode, even if it was a mess.
 
*** It's fitting that there are no pictures of Winston doing puzzles on the FOX media site. Once again, Winston gets minimal respect.
 
Anyway, that's out it, really... Hopefully Sepinwall will be back next week!
 
What'd y'all think of the "New Girl" premiere?