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The first episode of New Girl's third season is so good, so funny and weird and frantic and heartfelt that it's easy to forget what a tough episode it must have been to write. Last season the show finally moved beyond its original, not very enticing pitch in which Zooey Deschanel plays Zooey Deschanel in an impossibly lush loft. Season two of New Girl was, for me at least, the strongest sitcom of the year, but it ended with four of its five main characters embroiled in complex romantic situations.
The first episode takes place almost entirely outside that loft, that dreamlike industrial space of quirky furniture and huge iron-grid windows that's somehow paid for by four not-very-successful 30-year-olds (one a bartender, one a production assistant on sports radio, one a teacher, and one a marketer, or something like that). Jess and Nick, the teacher and bartender, respectively, have decided to begin dating. Terrified by the prospect of living together while dating, they run… to Mexico. Four days later, Nick has torn the sleeves off his dress shirt — most likely his only dress shirt — and Jess has adopted some subtly tropical braids to match her dirty dress. They have gone "All In," the title of the episode and also its theme. Also it's a phrase the characters say repeatedly. READ MORE
In November 2005, Fox announced that two comedies would be pulled for sweeps week, and would finish out the season with a truncated 13-episode order before cancellation. Both were single-camera, laugh-track-less sitcoms with casts full of comedy ringers. Both had been ratings-challenged, averaging about four million viewers per episode. One of those shows was Arrested Development. The other was Kitchen Confidential.
That short, 13-episode season was Arrested Development's third, but it was the first and only shot Kitchen Confidential ever got. While yes, there's nothing like an Arrested Development mention to make comedy fans read a primer for a show they've probably never heard of and may never watch, I shouldn't imply that Kitchen Confidential and Arrested Development are in the same league. Kitchen Confidential is a cute, unambitious little show, a workplace comedy with laughably attractive people, more cleavage than the New York Department of Health probably considers safe, and the kind of rapid-fire clever dialogue used in shows like Gilmore Girls. It was based on a bajillion-selling memoir by Anthony Bourdain, though in kind of the same way Arrested Development was "based" on the Enron scandal: little more than an occasional reference, really. (You can pick out the nods if you've read the book: a hatred of non-religious vegetarians, a credo that you only need one knife, a mildly psychotic baker, a tough female cook.) But while nobody, except those weirdos clamoring for an Arrested Development movie, was surprised by Arrested Development's cancellation, I'm still surprised Fox didn't give Kitchen Confidential more of a chance. READ MORE
Hey, comedy nerds: You should be watching The League. I have a feeling not all of you are, and that's a problem. Some of you tuned in last season, sure–the show did get picked up for a second season (premiering tonight on FX), after all. But it seems like the show has been slipping under the radar, which is too bad, because it just might have been the best new comedy of last year.
I might describe The League as the first half-hour of an Apatow film, with all the slightly bro-ish but very funny dick-joke ratatat that implies. It's only the first half-hour, though–there's no real sentimentality or, frankly, any particular emotional core on The League. One of the characters gets divorced in the first episode, but it's treated in the lightest possible way–it's used to contribute to, not get in the way of, jokes. READ MORE