The only people that must enjoy cash cow holidays like Valentine's Day, Halloween and Christmas more than retailers have to be sitcom writers. Not only are their viewers well into the holiday spirit and gobbling up anything and everything holiday-related, but it provides easy plot points and the chance to dress their sexy stars up in costumes. Everybody wins.
Sadly, not everybody was a winner on last night's Halloween-themed episode of New Girl. Not Cece's sad trombone of a boyfriend Ronnie (guest star Nelson Franklin) who is more or less around to be comedy fodder for Schmidt, not Winston who came to a crossroads with his occasionally-seen-on-screen girlfriend Shelby, not Nick who found out the hard way that sometimes crushes are meant to stay crushes, and definitely not Jess who got rejected by Sam (David Walton) and accidentally punched in the face by Nick.
While it would have been easy for New Girl writers to go for a more fun and festive episode last night, I actually appreciated that the whole thing was — as overhyped, high expectations holidays tend to go —a series of depressing disappointments.
First let's talk about Nick, who continued to be a series of depressing disappointments when he finally got to hook up with his college crush Amelia (played by Forgetting Sarah Marshall's Maria Thayer), a woman who ping-ponged between certifiable (she made a pumpkin that resembled her and Nick's likeness) and poetic ("I'm not an idea of a person, I'm an actual person"), only to screw things up with her and then accidentally attack one of his best friends.
Quick sidebar: the only thing that must bring sitcom writers more joy than holiday themes is the opportunity to use college flashbacks. They all use the same comedy crutch that apparently in college, everyone gets terrible facial hair and was lame. See: Nick, Ross in Friends, Ted in How I Met Your Mother. End sidebar.
So did the perpetually effing-up Nick punch poor Jess in the face? Well, he's scared of haunted houses, both literally and metaphorically. Literally, Jess was spending her weekends working at a haunted house and when he braved it to warn her about Sam, she jumped out and scared him (as one does in a haunted house) and as a reflex, he clocked her right in the eye. Metaphorically, haunted houses are like relationships because, according to Nick, "you walk in all confident and then once you get in its not what you thought it was gonna be and its scary."
Since both Nick and Jess are scared to walk through the haunted house of relationships together, they continue to go through them with other people. Nick (who had the best costume of the episode as "Bee Arthur"), temporarily with Amelia, and Jess with Sam. While Jess has been keeping it light and loose with the dopey Sam, things changed on a dime once she discovered that he is a pediatrician. That was the scariest thing in this entire episode, actually, that the same guy who professed his non-ironic love for Creed a few weeks ago, is supposed to be taking care of sick children. Well, that and he did Patch Adams-related humor when he put on a clown nose. If that didn't make Jess run for the hills, nothing would.
Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Jess, she had every right to run for the hills when it was revealed that FWB Sam was sharing his, er, talents with other girls in the Los Angeles area. After Jess had invited Sam to come see her at the haunted house in costume, which he obliged, Jess decided it was time to tell him how she really felt. When Nick's attempts to warn Jess were thwarted, Jess confessed her feelings and was promptly turned down. It wasn't much of a hit for viewers to watch Jess endure this split (we didn't grow as attached to Sam as we did Paul), it did open the door for the show to dangle Nick and Jess in front of us again as Nick, with his arm around her, iced her eye and told her she deserved someone who is crazy about her. Trick or treat? I'm leaning more towards trick on this one.
They did a similar thing with the inevitable reunion of Cece and Schmidt. Cece tried to deny her lingering feelings for her ex as he did everything in his power to show how just how much he wants to be around her. Schmidt, who dressed up as Abe Lincoln (as everyone seems to be doing these days), begrudgingly befriend Cece's future ex-boyfriend and forgettable nice guy Robbie. And while Cece and Robbie are on the road to future Splitsville, Winston and Shelby (yep, they're both still there) arrived during last night's episode. Apparently these two weren't having much sex and were on different wavelengths, but since we rarely saw them on camera together, we'll just have to take their word on it.
"Halloween" episode highlights:
- The gang's exchange about Zombie Woody Allen. ("These brains are terrible and such smawl portions," "On Christmas I like to eat Chinese people's brains, they're the only ones that are open.")
- Winston's line "I have nothing to add to this." If that doesn't perfectly incapsulate Lamorne Morris' character and the actor's place on the show, nothing does.
- Nick's girlish scream. "This is my nightmare!"- Shelby's inspired Halloween costume Reigning Cats and Dogs.
- Schmidt's various brilliant one-liners: "Those costumes are for Purim!", "The guy who shot John Lennon is dressed as a Ninja Turtle," "I witnessed the emancipation of one black guy tonight." And, of course, Schmidt dressed as Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike. Alright, alright, alright, alright!
Okay, so this wasn't the best episode of New Girl by a long shot. It was mildly amusing, at best. But, isn't that most things around the holidays? What did you think of the Halloween episode of New Girl?
[Photo credit: Greg Gayne/Fox]
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The American Horror Story goal is very clear: Each season will feature a completely different time and setting in hopes of evoking feelings of true panic and terror from its viewers—it’s working. Last night’s premiere of AHS: Asylum highlighted an array of fears that keep many Americans up at night: Aliens, mass-murders, vicious creatures lurking in the woods, operations without anesthesia, and limbless Adam Levine. (How will he push the button?!)
If you’re anything like us, then you were probably watching the majority of the episode from the tiny cracks between your fingers as you attempted to shield your eyes from the horrors on screen. Luckily for all you scaredy-cats out there, Hollywood.com caught up with the stars of the asylum at the American Horror Story premiere this past weekend to get all the terrifying details you have missed, plus what to expect as the season progresses.
Premiere Explanations: Welcome to Briarcliff Manor, a former tuberculosis ward turned sanitarium that boasts more than 46,000 deaths. In the twisted new drama, Joseph Fiennes encompasses the role of Monsignor Timothy Howard, the head of a nun-run institution in New England. The English actor explains that like season one’s haunted house, Briarcliff is a character in itself. “It’s very evocative. It’s stark. You’re thrown into a world where there’s a very bleak point of view on mental illness and it’s terrifying.” Fiennes revealed.
“In today's world, when you look back you think that now we’re much more forgiving on mental illness, but in that day and age it was less so. So incarceration was pretty much the answer along with some pretty dire, torturous treatments along with that.” He explained. Whether being forced to repent for their sins or having their problems sliced out of them, the patients at Briarcliff manor could not be further away from today’s cushy rehab facilities. Fiennes says that his character is hoping to bring a sense of balance to the asylum. “He has brought in Sister Jude played by Jessica Lange to run the institute alongside Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) who is a wonderful doctor. So both from a medical and spiritual point of view he’s running it and heading up this institute.” Referring to Dr. Arden as a “wonderful" anything seems to be a bit of a stretch. So far we know that the crazed scalpel-loving doctor has been operating on patients who have no family ties. Although it’s yet to be spelled out in black and white, it’s safe to assume that the doctor is using the flesh of the deceased mentally ill to feed some unknown creatures in the woods. These ravenous animals will soon be known as “raspers” and rest assured AHS fans, we will be seeing their hideous shapes soon enough.
Together Sister Jude, Dr. Arden, and Monsignor Howard are somewhat begrudgingly teaming up to “cure” the patients of Briarcliff from all their illnesses whether that be nymphomania, the desire to skin women alive, or loving someone of the same sex. Fiennes warns, “I think really this show is a meditation on madness and insanity and we’ll see that those inside are maybe not as crazy as those who are running it.”
Looking Ahead: Next week’s episode will introduce us to Dr. Oliver Thredson played by returning fan-favorite Zachary Quinto. In contrast to last year’s character, (a Halloween-obsessed and aspiring gay dad) Quinto will now play a psychiatrist who possesses logic, reason and, most importantly, compassion—something that the patients of Briarcliff are in desperate need of. The psychiatrist will be coming in to help determine the sanity of Kit (Evan Peters) but once he witnesses some of the less-than lovely and unorthodox treatments he is beyond concerned with the well-being of the asylum inhabitants.
Further into the season, Breaking Bad fans will hear that faint “ding” of recollection when they see a familiar face lurking in the corners of the asylum. Mark Margolis is thrilled to have been a part of the two “groundbreaking” cable hits (“They’re both beautifully written.”) but the actor says that his time on Breaking Bad did not help prepare him for his role on AHS. “I had to speak on this! I’m usually just ringing a bell, but they actually wanted me to say words,” he shrugged with a smile. “And the character that I’m playing on this is a million miles away from the character that I played on Breaking Bad.” There is very little known about Margolis’ character other than his name: Sam Goodwin. “He’s my age and looks a lot like me.” The former Tio Salamanca teases, “I can‘t tell you a whole lot about him. Somebody back there said my character is a hunter, which is a kind of general and vague idea of him, but I said, 'Okay, it’s hunting season.'”
Compare and Contrast: As someone who has first hand experiences with both the Harmon house and Briarcliff, Quinto is definitely an authority on which season is going to be more terrifying. Without hesitation the actor reveals that AHS: Asylum will take the tormented cake. He said, “It’s going to be scarier. It’s more brutal and uncompromising and relentless.” When describing the upcoming season in three words, Quinto was very meticulous with his choices. The actor summarizes, “Daring, bold and just truly scary.” Echoing Quinto’s thoughts, Lily Rabe—another season one alum—believes Asylum has more of a mental edge to it. The 1920s socialite turned wide-eyed nun explains, “They’re both terrifying in different ways. This season, it’s really more psychologically disturbing. It still makes you jump and has that kind of scary too, but it will also keep you up at night and give you bad dreams.”
And although Fiennes did not star in the first season, the TV-entitled Monsignor followed the show religiously. “I think in a very subtle way we’re dealing with an anthology and I think there is a meditation within each season of the show that breathes under the umbrella of American horror. The first being the break up and disintegration of a marriage, infidelity as well as the haunted house. Whereas I think that this is a meditation on madness.” Fiennes continues, “I think they’re very different. Since [this season] is dealing with an institution, I find that more scary because we could all end up there… It’s creepy, it’s very very creepy.”
What did you think of last night’s premiere? Intrigued for what’s to come on American Horror Story: Asylum? Scream your thoughts in the comments below!
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
[Photo Credit: FX]
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