Amongst the buzz of must-see TV this fall is FOX’s half-hour comedy New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel. I saw the pilot a few days ago and really liked it. Which is always promising as pilots can be hit or miss. Sometimes you need a few episodes before the cast really gels, but this one seemed at ease. New Girl doesn’t premiere until September 20th, but you don’t need a studio screener to see it early. FOX is making everyone an insider.
Two weeks before its airdate, I didn’t watch the New Girl pilot in a private screening or a premiere party. I actually saw it by chance while flipping through Time Warner’s Primetime On Demand the other night. Don’t have Time Warner? You can see it for free on iTunes, the first primetime show to ever broadcast online before it airs the old fashioned way. Or on September 13th, when it will also be added to the stream at hulu, Fox.com and Deschanel’s own site, HelloGiggles. Or on the 20th when, you know, it’s on TV.
Courtesy of Fox
Sounds like a risky idea, right? Post a new show online, for free, until the day before it airs, and see who will still tune in when it debuts? Slotted between GLEE and Raising Hope (kind of a perfect combo alongside Hope, which I also love for its ensemble of offbeat characters and great dialogue), chances are there will be plenty of repeat viewers come the 20th. Not to mention those who found out about the show because their friends caught it online and told them to see it. Tweeted about it. Posted it on Facebook or Google+. Blogged about it. Wrote about it on BlogHer. Maybe it’s kind of a genius idea after all.
Originally called Chicks and Dicks, New Girl is penned by playwright/screenwriter/producer Elizabeth Meriwether. (She’s got a way with titles - her script F***buddies was released last year as the no asterisks required, No Strings Attached.)
The show is about a woman named Jess (Deschanel) who finds herself suddenly, quite unexpectedly, single and moving in with three guys she finds thanks to Craig’s List. Jess warns her roomies when moving in she will be dealing with her breakup with marathon viewings of Dirty Dancing and that “she likes to sing to herself a lot. A lot.” Deschanel’s success as a singer in real life usually finds her singing in every film she does, and well. But here, making up songs to get happy when she’s feeling down? Well, those songs sound just about as awkward as anyone who, well, makes up songs to cheer themselves up when they’re down. Not. so. good.
The guys, Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Nick (Jake Johnson) and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) come with plenty of baggage, too – the guys keep a “douchebag jar” which they must pay into whenever they say or do something worthy, which is often. But there will be some resorting of their baggage come episode two when Coach is replaced with a new roomie. (Wayans was out after his former series got picked up for another season. Rather than reshoot the pilot, which happens, they’re working the casting change into the story.)
I like the idea of a show about a group of people approaching thirty, more than just beyond their college years, trying to figure out life and relationships and not while doing rotations in some hospital or working in the DAs office. They’re quirky, plus they’ve got less job security.
Meriwether, a member of the so-called Fempire of powerful female Hollywood screenwriters, wrote a great pilot, directed by Jake Kasdan (Orange County, Freaks and Geeks). And with references to both Dirty Dancing and Lord of the Rings in the opening scenes – it’s good stuff. This isn’t a show written by a woman for a female audience. Or by a woman for a male audience. If anything, it is a show written for an audience of now grown children of the eighties trying to figure out this whole adulthood thing. Which suits me just fine.
Time and the Nielsen ratings will tell, but this pilot-preview concept could start a new trend that further narrows the gap between old-school TV and new media viewers. But it’s a trend that will only work if a show is strong enough to hold the attention span of the online audience, which we all know is easily distracted. If this pilot is indicative of what’s to come, New Girl will debut with a large audience already excited for episode two.
Check it out for yourself and, tell me what you think of the new concept?
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