Friday, October 17, 2014

New Girl 4.05: "Landline"

“I’m just excited to add a third number. Home, work, and cell. Damn I’m reachable!”

“Landline” was, on the whole, a pretty forgettable episode of “New Girl.” It really had only two things going for it in my book. The first, of course, was a hot British guy. The second was the whole bit about the loft getting a land line. It reminds me of when, at the apartment where I lived in grad school, we did a triple play with our cable/internet provider, but we could never get the landline phone to work. I lived in that apartment with two roommates when “New Girl” first premiered, and the whole living in a kind of broken down apartment with multiple roommates concept spoke to me at the time. I’m just not generally a fan of episodes that play up Jess’ awkwardness. This episode found Jess in an extremely awkward situation, and if I were her, I probably would have fired my entire staff over it.

Early in the episode, we are introduced to the main problem that will be facing the roomies. Due to nearby building construction, everyone’s cell phone reception at the loft is terrible. After an incident where everybody almost crashes into each other fighting for reception, Jess has a novel idea. She gets a landline phone for the loft. The experience of the phone ringing is something the roomies thought they had left long in the past. We learn through flashback that Winston was quite the phone conversation charmer when he was a teenager. When the phone actually rings for the first time, Jess picks it up, and she is surprised to find that the call is from the nurse at her school, and the call is actually for Coach (who, if you’ll recall, also works at the school).

Since Jess is now Vice Principal at her school, she concerned to learn that Coach and the nurse have been sleeping together. She calls them both into her office and asks them to fill out a “fraternization form,” which sounds awfully juvenile, but it’s Jess, so, you know, that’s kind of to be expected. Coach and the nurse (who is a complete ditz) are filling out the form when another teacher busts in and causes a disturbance. Apparently she had been sleeping with Coach, too, so she’s really pissed off to find out he’s been sleeping with multiple school staff. Jess isn’t happy about it either. She calls a fraternization-themed staff meeting to reprimand everyone.

Meanwhile, back at the loft, Nick finds that the phone has completely changed his life. Since he’s a bartender, he is the only one of the roomies at home during the day. He ends up constantly answering the phone, and he starts acting as the loft’s receptionist. The rest of the roomies aren’t especially thrilled about this, because Nick uses it as an opportunity to get up in their business. He takes and delivers messages with glee. Schmidt’s anxious over an upcoming interview with Businessman Magazine, and Winston has a new lady friend. Nick eagerly learns more about and interferes with all of it. He really likes knowing everyone’s business. It’s almost like it gives him a sense of purpose.

Jess’ anti-fraternization crusade runs into quite the roadblock. After her really getting on Coach’s case for the office love triangle thing, the principal introduces her to the new science teacher. His name is Ryan, and he’s British and fairly adorable. Jess is in trouble. I probably would be in trouble too if I were in her situation, so I’m not going to judge her for it. I’m kind of a sucker for all things British. Including guys. Anyway, Jess and Ryan are completely awkward around her (not quite as awkward as Clara and Danny on “Doctor Who,” but pretty darn awkward), but it’s clear they’re into each other. It’s bad timing for Jess, that’s for sure.

Winston and Schmidt get really fed up with Nick knowing all their business. He’s their friend, so they don’t mind if he knows some more personal details about their lives, but Nick has just gone over the top. What really upset Schmidt in particular was that Nick sent Businessman Magazine a photo of Schmidt to use in their story, and it was pretty terrible. Nick thought it was a good choice because it was the most recent photo of Schmidt he had available. Schmidt thinks that his chance at business world fame is gone. Winston and Schmidt get a classic 1990’s answering machine, and they enlist Cece to leave the greeting. No matter how flat she makes her voice, Schmidt keeps insisting it’s too sexy. Nick sees that he has been replaced, and he goes off to sulk and eat a bowl full of jelly. Most of the time I like Nick, but then he goes and does something just plain dumb and I have to reconsider.

Jess holds a big staff training session about the no fraternization policy. Coach and most of the rest of the staff think the whole thing is lame, so ironically, they behave like annoying middle school children. Coach says he’s a “visual learner,” so he wants to see a demonstration of Jess’ anti-harassment technique. Which basically involves sticking your arms out and saying “shut it down.” He demands that Jess demonstrate the technique with Ryan, and the rest of the faculty start chanting in agreement. They goad Ryan and Jess into simulating harassment, and Jess enjoys a back massage a bit too much before finally going into “shut it down” mode. At the end of the episode, the principal remarks to Jess that while it isn’t a horrible thing to have some faculty fraternization, the two of them can’t participate because they’re administrators. This is clearly setting up some sort of star-crossed Jess and Ryan situation, and I don’t think that really intrigues me at all.

Even though Nick was trying to be cool, he was actually hurt that Winston and Schmidt replaced him with the answering machine. In retaliation, he erases several messages, including a message about Schmidt’s magazine interview. Schmidt is upset that it doesn’t seem like the magazine has called, so he leaves the loft right before another call actually arrives. The magazine folks are adamant that the interview has to happen right now or it’s not going to happen at all. Winston has to put his awesome phone skills to the test for the first time in years as he pretends to be Schmidt. Schmidt actually returns to the loft in the middle of this, and even he is impressed by Winston’s skill. Who would have thought?

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