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Archive for Tuesday, September 20, 2011

‘New Girl’ comes in with a bang

September 20, 2011

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“New Girl” (8 p.m., Fox) has a lot of familiar facets to it, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It also has Zooey Deschanel, a lot of charm and that rarest of all sitcom ingredients — evidence of a human heart.

The offbeat object of desire in films as varied as “Elf” and “(500) Days of Summer,” star and producer Deschanel is wise enough to use her appeal in a sitcom that’s a comfortable twist on the familiar. In many ways, “New Girl” is the mirror image of “The Big Bang Theory.” In that CBS comedy you have one “normal” girl contending with a gaggle of dorks. “Girl” features a rather dorky desperate girl becoming the roommate of three and sometimes four guys who work overtime convincing themselves they’re “normal.”

After catching her long-term boyfriend with another girl, schoolteacher Jess (Deschanel) moves in with three strangers. Nick (Jake Johnson) is convinced he’s over a bitter breakup. Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is a stud in his own mind. Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) has some rage issues.

At first, these guys seem adrift with an emotional basket case in their midst. Particularly one who has to watch “Dirty Dancing” for days on end. This being television, “Girl” is really about the medium’s culture clash and gender wars. It poses the question, “What would happen if Lifetime and Bravo moved into an apartment with ESPN and Spike?”

Happily, the guys warm to Jess about the time viewers should warm to this show. Wisely, “Girl” doesn’t trade in the kind of easy vulgarity that could arise on a CBS show about girls and guys sharing a bathroom. It’s nice to see a sitcom that depicts young men as actual human beings, capable of developing a protective bond with their neurotic new roommate. Deschanel can be charming, but it’s the guys’ reaction that makes “Girl” so endearing.

• The flawed-sleuth-with-superpowers genre gets ever more crowded with “Unforgettable” (9 p.m., CBS). Carrie Wells (Poppy Montgomery) has a rare condition. She remembers everything and every moment she’s ever experienced. While this might drive the average person batty, she uses it to re-enter moments in a cinematic fashion and poke around for evidence. To make matters weirder, she gets to enter the scene as the “now” Carrie and look at everything, including the “then” Carrie, while finding clues.

Tonight’s other season debuts

• Tony questions Gibbs on “NCIS” (7 p.m., CBS).

• “The Biggest Loser” (7 p.m., NBC) returns.

• The gang regroups after nationals on “Glee” (7 p.m., Fox).

• The search for Hetty enters Romania on “NCIS: Los Angeles” (8 p.m., CBS).

• Jimmy explores his musical side on “Raising Hope” (8:30 p.m., Fox).

• A car accident reveals the nasty side of a posh neighborhood on “Body of Proof” (9 p.m., ABC).

• The stoner comedy “The Workaholics” (9:30 p.m., Comedy Central) enters its second season.

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