Public Enemies (Update) & New Girl

New Girl, the sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel has just started on Channel4. There have been lots of previews and reviews of the show in the UK using words like ‘kooky’, ‘adorkable’ (admittedly used in their publicity), and ‘manic pixie dreamgirl’. Yeah, I get it. These people read blogs and TWoP and Gawker and are on twitter, but they’re just using the same old tired tropes that have been used to describe this sitcom for 4 months. I’m the kind of person who knows about the ‘manic pixie dreamgirl’ trope and that kind of person (me) already knows about the show and has probably already seen previews, and yet most people, especially viewers of a Channel4 sitcom shown at 8.30pm on a Friday night have no idea who Zooey Deschanel is, probably have all the Friends boxsets, enjoy Waterloo Road and New Tricks, and can’t understand Charlie Brooker cos he talks too fast. They’re not interested in those tropes and want to know if it’s something that will make them laugh and can watch with a take-away and bottle of wine on a Friday night.

Anyway, I’ve seen the first 3 episodes of New Girl. I’m not going to give a detailed review because there are loads out there. It’s alright. It’s not brilliant, but it’s not terrible. I think it’ll get better, but I’m not sure about its longevity. Deschanel’s Jess is not always going to be the ‘new girl’ and then what? Damon Wayans Jr’s character of Coach was a good one and it’s a shame he’s not in it past the pilot, but then I’ve really been enjoying Happy Endings and I’m glad that show was given a second season (I think Penny is Ah-muh-zing). I’m intrigued as to why Channel4 have decided to put New Girl in such a prime-time slot and not on E4 with its other US comedies like Happy Endings and How I Met Your Mother. They’re obviously aiming for a more mainstream audience with this show, but I’m not sure they’ll get it, and I think they should have put it on E4 with the others.

Friday night also had the final episode of the three-episode run of BBC1’s Public Enemies starring Daniel Mays and Anna Friel. Eddie Mottram (Mays) had been released after ten years in prison for the murder of his teenage girlfriend, Georgia Whiteley. Now with his parole officer Paula (Friel), he starts to protest his innocence and wants to go to appeal. Quite a lot happened in the last 2 episodes. He got a girlfriend but then lost her once she found out about his real crime. He found out that his friend the GP had been having an affair with Georgia ten years ago – but he wasn’t the killer. He tries anger management courses but they’re a disaster and becomes particularly close and rather obsessed with Paula, his parole officer as they start to look for evidence to quash his conviction.

Yes, ultimately if you’re going to have Anna Friel as a parole officer and Daniel Mays as a reformed/innocent criminal then of course there’s going to be a romantic storyline. Although well played by the two actors, it was very annoying. Paula was such an unprofessional parole officer throughout and though she ultimately lost her job, she contravened the rules of parole far too much. She sneaked Eddie around his exclusion zone, got very personal with him, secured an appeals lawyer for him, and hounded his original lawyer. Despite being recalled to prison for headbutting the hostel manager, it ends with Eddie and Paula kissing, in the prison visiting room, as he knows he is about to be released. Because right at the end, rather bizarrely, the real killer confesses. And it was Georgia’ father, Ken Whiteley (played by Peter Wight). It also had Paula give a mini-speech to her employment tribunal where she railed against the parole system, which continued to treat people released from prison as criminals. This issue is really important, but would have had added more weight if the programme hadn’t descended into a romance and a story with a wrongfully convicted criminal.

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3 Responses to Public Enemies (Update) & New Girl

  1. Tim says:

    Public Enemies: fantastic subject matter, good cast, slightly bodged execution – not least the insistence of tying everything up with full closure and a happy ending. It would have been far better to leave things a bit ambiguous, certainly the romance between Paula and Eddie, which felt very forced. And I agree about Paula – just how unprofessional was she? Not bad – but could have been so much better. 6/10 from me.

    New Girl: I’ve only seen the first episode so far, but I’m always willing to give a new comedy more than 1 episode as it’s SO hard to cram everything into a 22-minute pilot. Like you, I like but don’t love. I’m trying not to compare it to Friends but on first viewing Jess feels so much like Phoebe. It seems lightweight, but also heart-warming and doesn’t look like it will take itself too seriously. I watch so much serious stuff that I need a bit of fluff for light relief. That’s why I watch Hawaii Five-O, and it’s why I will probably stick with New Girl too. 7/10.

    • Yes, we all need undemanding light relief programmes! January seems to have been mostly full of heavy-hitting dramas. I think Jess is a bit more intelligent than Phoebe, but I can see lots of similarities now you’ve mentioned it.

  2. Pingback: What are Channel 4 doing with ‘New Girl’? | Sunshine Tomorrow

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