New Girl: “Sharks”

After a long winter break shows are starting to creep back into their regular time slots. This is a time for shows for change things up to improve their ratings, buck old formulas in search of better ratings and altogether experiment a little. The Mindy Project is off to California for a while,Modern Family changed the core structure of their episodes for their first week back and many serials are launching into their second half storylines. Fortunately for New Girl there is no need to reinvent the wheel during its return seeming as how it has been firing on all cylinders since early on this season. “Shark” is an episode that does all the right things for viewers looking for a return to regular television programming.

If you have been following the our reviews of New Girl up to this point in the season you will know that one of its biggest strengths is the fact that they don’t have to rely on any certain group of individuals for an episode to be successful. The roommates has such a chemistry that they can be put into any situation and thrive on both their individual and combined performances. “Shark” gives us two of those groupings as we see Schmidt and Jess squaring off over late night construction while Nick and Coach are concerned over Winston starting his new job as a police officer.

The comedic onus of the episode rests on the shoulders of Coach and Nick as they set out to prove that Winston’s training office is too petite to protect him. The prerequisite sitcom laughs ensue with relative ease but lack of abundance. Waynes & Johnson’s unique chemistry is on full display as they play off of each other breathlessly in a scene where they offer Officer Nielsen a bag of unwrapped candies. The laughs though are in short supply this week and with it the storyline which should have focused on Winston graduating from the police academy falls slightly short. It does do a solid job though of demonstrating that in this instance, the guys are nothing but dolphins swimming in Officer Nielsen’s part of the ocean.

The Jess and Schmidt storyline may have less laughs but is full of a winning performance by Max Greenfield playing the political arm candy of Councilwoman Fawn Moscato, played with ease byZoe Lister Jones. One of the best running trends on the show is the inability of Schmidt to reduce himself to a piece of meat when it comes to powerful women and that is what happens here. When he notices that the Councilwoman is strong and sexy he immediately turns his back on Jess and their fight against night construction in an attempt to get close to her. He is also blind to the fact that she uses him for the rest of the episode as a puppet to further his causes until it is too late and Jess has to save him. In this the core of the episode’s message is clear; men may believe they are getting the better of a situation but its the strong women who are really driving the cart. Jess wins the fight against night construction, Moscato uses Schmidt’s bumbling performance to win votes and Winston’s training officer demonstrates that Nick and Coach are children pretending to be men. These three women are the true sharks and this episode demonstrates that with ease. New Girl may not always be a show about empowerment or self worth but with this first episode of 2015 it has shown it has the ability to be more than just your average sitcom.

Grade: B+

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