Sunday, February 5, 2012

New GIrl 1.09: "The 23rd"

“I had figure skating lessons until I was thirteen, and then my mom sobered up and realized I was a boy. Let’s do this.”

“The 23rd” is definitely one of my favorite episodes of “New Girl” thus far, and definitely in my pantheon of all-time great television holiday episodes. The conceit that the whole gang would go to Schmidt’s office holiday party was kind of silly, but it made for some great, hilarious moments. It also had a lot of heart, which is becoming a pretty common characteristic of the best episodes of the series. Plus, it’s a holiday episode. We always want holiday episodes to have a lot of heart. Even when a holiday episode has an edge to it, like “Greys Anatomy’s” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” you always get the nice little heartwarming moment with all the main characters enjoying the holiday together at some point in the episode. And this episode’s heartwarming moment took place on an uber-decked out for Christmas street. Which is right after my own heart. I checked out a street like that in Baltimore with some friends before the holidays this year myself. I’m a sucker for Christmas lights.

The episode opens at the apartment, with the guys taking care of last minute holiday stuff. We see a contrast of who the best and worst gift givers are in the apartment. Nick is wrapping up a box of tacks for his nephew with a note warning his nephew not to eat them. Meanwhile, Jess has given the guys roller skates, and they’re all loving them. There’s also some discussion about how the whole gang is going to be going to Schmidt’s office holiday party later that evening. Jess bursts in on them about to have a bit of a roller skating fight, which was pretty darn hilarious. Jess is freaking out because she needs to buy a Christmas gift for Paul, and she has no clue what to get him. She wants the guys to come to the mall with her to help. We next see Jess and Nick at the mall, discussing the gift dilemma. Because she hasn’t been dating him for very long, Jess isn’t sure whether or not to get Paul a serious or silly gift. So far, all she’s got is a handmade card for “nerdy weird sex that works for both of us.” Nick jokingly takes the card from her and says he’s going to cash it in someday, which of course I thought was a great moment.

On the way home from the mall, Jess drives the guys down “Candycane Lane.” It’s a street where everybody goes all-out with their Christmas decorating. It’s not all that impressive during the day, but Jess is driving there anyway because they won’t have a chance to go at night. Nick has to go directly to the airport from Scmidt’s party because he has a 4 AM flight to Chicago- it was the only flight he could afford. Somehow he’s managed to miss his flight for the past four years in a row, so his mother is really getting on his case to make sure he gets to the airport on time this year. Throughout the episode, Mrs. Miller calls both Nick and Winston to make sure that Nick is going to make his flight.

Next we get some gift exchange scenes, which I suppose are obligatory in any holiday television episode. First, Schmidt stops by a photo shoot Cece is doing (she’s the “after” for a diet pill) to give her a gift. The only problem is that Cece’s douchey boyfriend is at the shoot as well. Schmidt’s gift to Cece is a perfume he designed himself. He didn’t really choose the scents by how they actually smelled, but by what they symbolized. For instance, he chose sandalwood as one of the scents because Cece is “up to no good.” Of course, as the episode goes on, we find out that this means the perfume smells absolutely horrible, but Cece seems to appreciate the gesture anyway. Especially because her douchey boyfriend didn’t even get her a gift. Jess and Paul’s gift exchange doesn’t go nearly as well. Jess’ gift from Paul is plane tickets to Austria and tickets to the Salzburg Music Festival, and all she has to give Paul is a plushie anatomically correct heart. Paul doesn’t mind this, and he tells Jess he loves her. Jess, understandably, freaks out, and all she says in reply is “thank you.” Sure the “thank you” in response to “I love you” has been done on sitcoms before, but I think it worked here because that moment wasn’t dwelt on so much.

The gang all arrives at Schmidt’s office holiday party and finds Schmidt shirtless and playing “Sexy Santa.” It’s pretty hilarious. After they’re all settled at the party, Jess tells Nick about what happened with Paul. Jess is conflicted about when to tell Paul that she doesn’t feel the same way about him as he does her. She thinks it would be cruel to spring this on him in the middle of the holidays. She ends up hiding in the bathroom with Cece (who is hiding from her douchey boyfriend) for a while trying to figure it out. I want to know, in the age of corporations hording all their money, how Schmidt could get away with inviting all his friends and some of his friends’ friends (like Paul and Cece’s boyfriend) to this party. I know of companies that do nothing for the holidays or only give their employees something like $5 each towards a party. I want to work where Schmidt works!

Nick sees Paul looking pensive on the balcony, and when Paul says that yes, he’s talked to Jess, Nick assumes that Jess has already broken the bad news to Paul. So Nick lets it slip that Jess said she doesn’t love Paul. It turns out that what Jess talked to Paul about was that they might need to drive Nick to the airport, not about her feelings. So Nick’s in trouble. Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Jess decides she’s going to wait to have the talk with Paul until after the holidays, and she leaves to go join the party. Cece stays in the bathroom to try her perfume, since Schmidt was nice enough to get her a gift and her boyfriend wasn’t, and she discovers that the perfume sucks. Jess goes out on the balcony and finds out what Nick told Paul, and the three of them end up locked on the balcony while Jess and Paul have a conversation that eventually leads to them breaking up. This is super awkward for Nick, especially when he gets another phone call from his mom. Jake Johnson plays Nick’s desperation to get off the balcony for comedic gold.

Winston has been spending the party talking to the young son of Gina, Schmidt’s pregnant boss. The kid seems to take a liking to Winston, which surprises Gina, because her son doesn’t usually like to talk to people at all. Meanwhile, Cece sees Schmidt being verbally abused by his coworker Kim. It reminds her of how she feels when her douchey boyfriend puts her down, so she tells Schmidt to stand up or himself. Schmidt takes Cece’s advice and tells Kim that he will no longer be Sexy Santa. He makes a comment about killing Santa, and of course Gina’s kid hears it, screams, and runs off. Winston then spends much of the rest of the episode looking for the kid, and in the process, he opens the balcony door, and a grateful Nick runs off as quick as he can. Winston finally finds the kid outside, and he’s done such a good job that Gina essentially offers him quite a lot of money to be the kid’s manny.

Finally the party is over and the gang is on their way to take Nick to the airport. Nick sees how dejected Jess looks following her break-up with Paul, and he makes the decision to turn the car around, ensuring that he’ll miss his flight and piss of his mother yet again. He takes Jess and the guys to Candycane Lane, hoping that getting to see it all lit up would be a good Christmas present to Jess. Unfortunately, the residents of the street have already turned off their lights for the night. Nick gets out at the car and starts yelling at them to show off and turn on their lights, and soon the rest of the gang joins in. The lights of Candycane Lane come on, and the gang takes a brief moment to enjoy them before driving off (they don’t want to get arrested for disturbing the peace, after all).

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