A quick review of tonight's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I'm looking for a fake redhead with a medium-sized neck...

Last week, I embraced the utter randomness of this season of "New Girl," accepting that if I had to choose between good characterization and big laughs, I'd be happier with the big laughs. But "Thanksgiving IV" — or, as Schmidt tried to dub the holiday, "Bangsiving" — was a reminder of how rewarding it can be when the show tries to do both at once.

The episode started off as a farce in which each loftmate — other than Nick, who wisely brought Tran as his Bangsgiving date — was paired with someone who brought up some underlying anxieties, though some were more understandable than others. Obviously, Jess and Ryan have had their issues, and Schmidt's date was less a problem for him than for her ex-boyfriend Nick, but Winston's hang-up about the lunch lady was definitely a Crazy Winston Is Crazy idea, and Coach's panic about dating a muscular woman should have at minimum acknowledged that the guy is, after all, a personal trainer. But different characters bounced off each other amusingly enough — in a night full of weird bits of business, my two favorites were probably Nick struggling to remember details about his ex, and Coach's dirty Oliver Twist impression — before the episode took a surprising and welcome turn toward the sincere, as things turned out well for everyone in the loft for once. Jess and Ryan threw caution to the wind(*), Coach had fun being with a stronger woman, Winston got over his lunch lady hangup, Cece opted to hang with Schmidt over being with his friend Geoff, and even Tran had romantic value for Nick, who got to meet his pretty granddaughter.

(*) Jessica Day and Barney Stinson would otherwise loathe each other, but they might have to hang out one afternoon to discuss their off-beat interpretations of '80s movie classics like "The Karate Kid" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (or, as vice-principal sympathizer Jess tried to redub it, "The Day Rooney Tried to Do His Job").

The show may go back to cartoon lunacy next week, and so long as it's funny enough, I'll go with that. But it's nice that the characters occasionally get to seem vaguely like people, even for a few minutes at the tail end of another half-hour of wacky hijinks.

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "TV (The Book)" about the 100 greatest shows of all time, is available now. He can be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com