Tuned In

The Morning After: Who’s That Guy? It’s–

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Having gotten all cranky yesterday over the second episode of 2 Broke Girls, let me offer a little balance here: the second episode of New Girl, “Kryptonite,” was really, encouragingly funny.

There’s been an industrial tank full of ink spilled over the polarizing Zooey Deschanel—the show is called New Girl, after all—but the pilot would not have worked as well as it did if the ensemble didn’t click. Which is why I was particularly interested to see how a second episode would play—especially since it involved the introduction of a New Guy (Lamorne Morris, replacing Damon Wayans Jr., who had to remain with Happy Endings).

One very encouraging sign in “Kryptonite” was its willingness to spread the laughs around, beyond its star. The episode still got mileage out of Jess’ naivete (“I thought pawn shops were about helping people”), but my list of favorite moments and lines from last night is heavy on her roommates, especially Max Greenfield as Schmidt. Showcased in the opening scene, Greenfield got to show how Schmidt’s alpha-dog self-conception made him defensive about Winston’s return from basketball stardom in Latvia (“The team logo is a fig. Just one single fig.”) but also moved him to a passionate, if goofy defense of Jess to her old boyfriend (“She worked hard on that jam! You know how time-consuming that can be?”)

I was less happy with Winston’s introduction. Deciding to add a new character rather than reshoot the pilot when the show lost Wayans puts New Girl in the weird position of introducing (or “re-introducing”) a second character at the same time it’s still introducing the roommates to Jess. And where Wayans’ Coach really popped in the pilot, Winston doesn’t really feel connected to the ensemble yet, an oddity, since the show is telling us he and the other guys have a history. (Though I can see producer Liz Meriwether’s dilemma; she had a strong pilot she didn’t want to re-shoot, and a new actor may not have brought what Wayans did to Coach anyway.)

Half a dozen episodes from now, of course, I may forget all this was ever an issue. For now, I’m just glad the second episode made me laugh as much as it did. But if it made you want to bounce a basketball into your television, don’t hold back.