Oh Prince, teach us your ways. I'll even personally volunteer to be locked in your creepy closet of love. I don't have a problem with hearing or saying the L-word—but eating pancakes and playing ping pong with the Purple One sure looks like a lot of fun. And when you're airing a super special episode in the coveted post-Super Bowl slot, I think fun is an indisputable requirement. One team's fans are high on life (and, in Seattle, probably actual mind-elevating substances), the other team's fans are bummed out (but at least y'all had, like, the whole game to make peace with it, right Denver?), and the rest of us are all drunk on tasteless light beer and Bagel Bites that were microwaved four hours ago and are now congealed to the plastic football-shaped serving plate but still look somewhat appetizing because beer munchies. I'm just saying, once the game is over, no one feels like sitting down to contemplate the serious side of television. If you're down, you need cheering up. If you're happy, you don't want to be dragged down. If you've never watched New Girl before, you need to figure out what the H is going on, and New Girl needs to convince you to return during its regular business hours on Tuesdays.
With so many roles to fill, New Girl's approach was pretty darn brilliant. It also helped that Prince completely stole the show every time he appeared on the screen. He was like the Willy Wonka of love.
Basically, Jess and Cece were almost killed by an erratic driver, but to make up for her crappy driving, the would-be Jess-slayer invited Cece and Jess to a party at her boss's house. Her boss happened to be Prince. Cece talked Jess out of wearing what had to be a leftover costume from some tour that Dolly Parton did in the '80s, and Jess ended up being, like, a total babe in her little black dress. As the gals were getting into the limo that would take them to Prince's sweet, sweet love pad, Nick was so overcome by Jess's beauty that he told her he loved her—which would've been fine, except it was the first time he'd ever uttered the phrase, and Jess freaked. She gave him the double finger guns instead of saying it back, and then she freaked some more when the limo pulled away before she could work through her momentary existential crisis. Careful with that champagne, girl; those hangovers are rough.
New Girl's skill at taking the most overdone cliches in the history of sitcoms and making them entertaining was on full display as Nick and Jess went through the motions of panicking, over-thinking things, getting really drunk (well, Nick did, anyway; either Jess skipped the alcohol binge or she just holds her booze REALLY well), and then making up via the magic of song and dance... and Prince. While the boys were busy crashing the party with varying levels of success, Prince saw that Jess was struggling and helped her see the light by kicking her ass at ping pong, locking her in a closet, dressing her up like Stevie Nicks, making her eat pancakes while he watched her like a creep, and showing off his butterfly mind-control powers. Then they wrote and performed a song and even though I would prefer for New Girl to pretend that Zooey Deschanel doesn't have a music career because I'm a weirdo and it just annoys me when the two worlds touch and I don't know why, all personal hang-ups aside, it was a fun performance.
"Prince" wasn't merely The Prince and Jess Singalong (1/2) Hour, though. I was pleasantly surprised by the meaningful interactions happening all over Chez Prince, particularly with Winston and Coach (Winnie and Ernie!) and Cece and Schmidt. New Girl made it clear in "Birthday" that the good ship Schmece isn't going to be tossed back in the water before some substantial repairs are made, and those repairs will require Schmidt and Cece to become friends again before tackling their ruined relationship. In "Birthday," Schmidt helped Cece at her new job. In "Prince," Cece helped Schmidt hide from Prince's bouncer and then actually seemed to enjoy hanging out with her ex, even as he took the opportunity to snuggle with her chesticles.
New Girl seems to have regained its balance in the second half of the season. In the wake of their party at Prince's place, the roommates all contemplated where they were supposed to go next. The answer, of course, is anywhere you want.
– I'll admit it, I didn't think Fire and Ice was going to work either.
– "Oh, I'm sorry, I haven't given you enough time to freak out. You may do so now."
– I loved how the whole panties debacle just snowballed from an innocent comment by Winston into a crazy teamwork exercise with the guys.
What did you think of "Prince?"
AIRED ON 5/6/2014
Season 3 : Episode 23