Review by C.J. Bunce

If the pilot is any indication, Zooey Deschanel, the cute and quirky co-star of Elf, Jimmy Fallon’s girlfriend in his “Idiot Boyfriend” video, and the  gritty-sultry voice of the pop group She and Him, will be right at home in her new sitcom, New Girl, premiering September 20 on Fox.

The New Girl of the title is Deschanel’s Jess, who we meet shortly after she leaves after finding her boyfriend with another woman.  Jess quickly answers a Craig’s List ad for three guys seeking a fourth roomie, and despite her moody, post-boyfriend psychosis, the mention that her friends are all models causes the trio (or at least two of the trio) to bring her onboard after a brief interview process.

Jess is a school teacher, but the show isn’t about that, it’s about a young woman on the edge being brought back from the cliff by a group of good guys, and it is thankfully far more comedy than drama.  The leader of the roommates and apparent Scarecrow of Zooey’s Dorothy-like character is the often-shirtless Schmidt played by Max Greenfield, best known as the too-nice-for-his-own-good Leo, friend of Veronica on Veronica Mars.  Damon Wayans, Jr. who plays Coach only in the series pilot (to be replaced by Lamorne Morris as a series regular), is a serious fitness instructor with no understanding of women (clearly the Tin Man in our analogy) with Jake M. Johnson as Nick, who also lost his girlfriend recently, as the weepy other roommate and empathetic new friend (and gentle Lion).

Jess gives Zooey a chance to sing, including creating her own theme song amongst her roommates (did I say she’s a little quirky?), when depressed she watches Dirty Dancing sometimes six times per day, and she lacks a certain fashion sense, starting with her large, retro eyeglasses.  What must include some improvisation to focus on Deschanel’s back and forth from deadpan to Jack-in-the-box-quick, boisterous humor, the show has our lead well-settled in her role as if she had played this character for years.  The style of the setting of New Girl offers a certain romp and sillyness like the trendiness of Marlo Thomas’s That Girl, Mary Tyler Moore’s hat-throwing intro in the classic Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Caroline Dhavernas’s dry humor and situation comedy antics from Wonderfalls.

For a half-hour pilot, the producers managed to pack a lot of story into the introduction of these characters.  If the writers can stick with the momentum and humor from the pilot, New Girl may be a new fall sitcom worth tuning in for.

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