Tuesday, November 5, 2013

REVIEW: 'New Girl' Welcomes Back Damon Wayans, Jr. but Taye Diggs Just Steals the Show in 'Coach'

FOX's New Girl - Episode 3.07 Coach

A newly single Coach (Damon Wayans, Jr.) returns to the loft, and wants to pick up exactly where he left off when he moved out. Meanwhile, Jess and Cece have a girls' night out, during which they meet a handsome stranger (Taye Diggs).

Way back when in New Girl's pilot, the third guy roommate in the loft was played by Damon Wayans, Jr. But after that one episode he had to return to Happy Endings for its second and then third seasons. Now with Happy Endings gone, Wayans was poised to make a return to the FOX comedy. I remember laughing at him during that pilot but I also could not recall a single defining characteristic about his Coach. He was the more sensible one opposite the broadly-sketched Jess, Schmidt and Nick. But now, that trio have had over two seasons of material to become more fully realized characters. With Coach's reintroduction, I worried if he would shake up the show in a meaningful way or just be a fun nod to past.

And "Coach" largely casts Coach in broad strokes. He returns after a breakup, doesn't remember Jess at all and wants to go out with Nick, Schmidt and Winston and party and get drunk just like they used to. Wayans sells the bits well but it never comes to the point of being a multi-dimensional character. I'm happy that Coach is sticking around for the time being and seeing how they develop that character. But I didn't think it was a strong reintroduction of him. And at one time, I do believe Nick and Schmidt would have done this. But these immature actions feel beneath those characters at this point.

New Girl has very much struggled with growth in its third season. In the latter half of its second season, it was very unapologetic in the way it put Nick and Jess together - and I loved it because of that. But now, we're seven episodes into this season - and Nick and Jess feel very stagnant in their relationship as even they are unsure of what it really is. They have yet to define what they are to each other and the show is incapable of going forward in a meaningful way until they decide that or just break up. 

Some more thoughts:
  • Taye Diggs really did steal the show with his guest spot as Artie. I belly loved at absolutely everything he did - from his flirtations with Jess to his leg flexibility. It also felt like he was having a lot of fun in this role - something I couldn't say when he was on Private Practice for six years.