Review | New Girl

Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Air Date: Tuesday 1/17

Us Rating: ***

This hit freshman comedy -- about awkward sweetie pie Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and her three very tolerant male roomies -- has felt more like an agreeable time-passer than a classic. Despite Deschanel's quirky charms, she's often stuck with flimsy plots that result in overbaked episodes. One example: Jess accidentally sees one of her loftmates nude, and hissy fits ensue.

But Girl hits its stride tonight. Insecure Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is bummed when the party bus for his 29th birthday falls through. (No "steering wheel in the shape of a boob!") Naturally, Jess saves the day with a tricked-out school bus. As cloying as that sounds, the ride includes one hilariously random gag after another (the unique Jess-hired stripper, for example), as well as endearing chemistry between neurotic Nick (low-key charmer Jake Johnson) and his intimidating crush (Lizzy Caplan). Best of all, Deschanel proves she's truly an ensemble player, balancing Jess' flights of fancy with a relatable empathy for her TV buddies. Looks like this party's just getting started! (Fox, 9 p.m.)