Fall TV Preview

Fall TV First Impression: Check Out the New Girl

The broadcast networks have more than 30 shows debuting this fall, including Charlie’s reborn Angels, homecomings for Sarah Michelle Gellar and Rachel Bilson, and no less than two series set in the ’60s. To help you prep for fall, TVLine is offering First Impressions based on the not-for-review pilots. Next up….

THE SHOW | Fox’s New Girl (Tuesdays at 9/8c, leading into Raising Hope; premieres Sept.20)

THE COMPETITION | Dancing with the Stars results show (ABC), NCIS: LA (CBS), The Biggest Loser (NBC) and Ringer (new on The CW)

THE CAST | Zooey Deschanel (500 Days of Summer), Max Greenfield (Ugly Betty), Jake Johnson (No Strings Attached), Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Endings) and Hannah Simone (WCG Ultimate Gamer). Lamorne Morris (Brain Rush) joins the series in Episode 2, essentially replacing Wayans’ character.

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THE SET-UP | Deschanel is Jess, a cute but spectacularly awkward/geeky gal who, in the wake of an epic break-up, interviews to move in  Schmidt, Nick and Coach (played by Greenfield, Johnson and Wayans, respectively). Despite having some misgivings about bringing a female — namely, one who readily references Lord of the Rings and frequently spontaneously breaks out into self-made songs — into their loft apartment, the guys give Jess the green light. Cue the despondent gal’s marathon Dirty Dancing rewatches.

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THE GOOD | One of the new TV season’s most promising freshman comedies, New Girl had me grinning wide both times I screened the pilot. Deschanel is an expected delight, and Jess’ myriad quirks (including her ever-evolving personal theme song and ghastly flirting techniques) are very endearing. The three male roles are well cast, and Simone (as Jess’ fashion model BFF) would seem to be Marsha Thomason’s long-lost sister. Speaking of siblings, Deschanel’s eyes, expressions and the way she slides out some dialogue will totally remind you of her big sis Emily (of Fox’s Bones).

THE… COULD-BE-BETTER | Schmidt is immediately and repeatedly established as a lecherous, lingo-slinging douchebag — there’s even a jar he must drop a dollar into each time he acts up — and that could stand to be dialed down a bit, lest the character come off as wholly unlikeable. I hope the show doesn’t dive too fast into the obvious Jess/Nick/”Will they, won’t they?” thing; it’s a marathon not a sprint. The jury is out on Morris, who was slotted into the cast after the pilot got picked up, due to Wayans’ Happy commitment on ABC.

Read TVLine’s First Impressions of ABC’s Once Upon a Time, The CW’s Ringer, CBS’ 2 Broke Girls and NBC’s The Playboy Club

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | Like The CW’s Ringer, New Girl will have its hands full trying to coax some viewers away from perennial heavyweights DWTS and NCIS: LA, though lead-in Glee will set the table better than any other Fox series. Like Happy Endings, this is one of those “mixed nuts” ensemble comedies you will want (and we need) to see succeed.

Watch a video preview for New Girl, then vote in our poll below.