If you want to know why three cast members of the Fox TV series New Girl were up for Emmys last year, just get a copy of New Girl: The Complete Second Season, now available on DVD. With yet another episode last night, New Girl is still cranking out laughs in its third season every Tuesday night. New Girl has become the surest way to get a quick dose of laugh-out-loud humor on network or cable television. The only frustrating thing about New Girl is that each episode is less than half an hour, and it always feels like it is over too fast. And that makes it that much more fun to watch 25 episodes at a few hours per viewing with the DVD set.
Season Two finally saw series star Zooey Deschanel’s Jess hook up with Jake Johnson’s Nick, the poster boy for the lazy post-college set. Deschanel was nominated for leading actress in a comedy series for her work in Season Two and it’s no wonder–she’s fun, quirky, and smart. Season Two also saw Max Greenfield’s performance as Schmidt nominated for best supporting actor in a comedy series. It’s hard to think of the last actor that worked as hard as Greenfield does for a laugh, finding himself constantly in the most embarrassing and over-the-top circumstances. Deschanel and Greenfield have made themselves actors to watch for whether in TV appearances (Deschanel in Bones and Weeds, Greenfield in Veronica Mars and Castle) or in movies (Deschanel in Elf and The Happening).
Season Two also saw the recurring appearance of Schmidt’s old girlfriend Elizabeth, played by Merritt Wever, who won the Emmy this year for her role in Nurse Jackie. Some of her scenes with Schmidt in New Girl’s Season Two are hysterical, and when Schmidt must choose between Cece (Hannah Simone) and Elizabeth in Season Three you really feel sorry for Schmidt’s character. Schmidt deals with his break-up with Cece, and Cece’s engagement leading to her wedding in the season finale. It’s the supporting cast–not just the Jess story line that was really highlighted in the series’ second year.
But New Girl is not about drama, it’s about being funny, it’s about laughing hard enough tears shoot out of your eyes and you feel like you’re going to pass out. If it has any faults, the series only drags a bit when it goes for too far for serious, dramatic effect. Like when Nick’s dad (played by Dennis Farina ironically in one of his last roles) dies, and we must go through the funeral process with him, resulting in more angst than laughs. New Girl is such a funny show, but when it tries to be more like Friends, they just go where they don’t need to go.
Some great laughs can be found on the Gag Reel that can be found in New Girl: The Complete Second Season, as well as a few deleted scenes and a montage feature about Schmidt being Schmidt–where you get to see all at once how outlandish his character is. Guest star Rob Riggle is so serious as funny straight man opposite Greenfield that Greenfield can’t stop laughing as he barks out his lines in the Gag Reel. And in the Gag Reel you see how funny Lamorne Morris is as Winston, off-camera as well as on, and how much further the writers could go with his Eddie Murphy-esque expressions and spontaneity.
Highlight episodes of the season are many. Watchmen’s Carla Gugino was featured as Schmidt’s boss Emma in three episodes. “Re-launch” featured an appearance by Parkey Posey. Jess substitutes for Cece at a car show in “Models.” We meet Jess’s parents played by Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis in “Parents.” Odette Annable (House, M.D.) appears as Nick’s boss in “Quick Hardening Caulk.” Two of the best all-around episodes are “Parking Spot,” where the roommates fight over one space in their building, and “Tinfinity,” where Schmidt pulls out all the stops to celebrate ten years living with Nick. Singer Taylor Swift appears in the season finale “Elaine’s Big Day.” The DVD also includes an expanded version of the episode “Virgins.”