REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 2

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Rachael Harris (Lucifer)
Nelson Franklin (Captain Marvel)
David Walton (Bad Moms)
Raymond J. Barry (Falling Down)
Josh Gad (Murder on The Orient Express)
Kali Hawk (Bridesmaids)
Rebecca Reid (I Live With Models)
Carla Gugino (Watchmen)
Molly Cheek (American Pie)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap)
Lauren Dair Owens (Astrid Clover)
June Diane Raphael (Year One)
Jeff Kober (Buffy: TVS)
Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Brenda Song (Dads)
Brooklyn Decker (Battleship)
Satya Bhabha (Sense8)
Michael Vlamis (Roswell, New Mexico)
Odette Annable (Supergirl)
Margo Martindale (Sneaky Pete)
Ellen Albertini Dow (Wedding Crashers)
Nick Kroll (Sing)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Merritt Wever (Signs)
Johnny Pemberton (Son of Zorn)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (2 Broke Girls)
Taylor Swift (The Giver)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Ariela Barer (Runaways)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)The first season of New Girl established the will-they-won’t-they pairing of Nick and Jess and the they-did-will-it-last coupling of Schmidt and CeCe, so the second season is all about raising the stakes for them. For Nick and Jess this takes the form of bad relationships keeping their minds off messing with the loft dynamic by dating a roommate. Though each has some legitimate opportunities for happiness, be it Jess’ commitment-phobic Dr. Sam or Nick’s sexually adventurous stripper girlfriend (played by Olivia Munn.) However knowing that there remains a chance they could end up together leads to frequent self-sabotage.Zooey Deschanel and David Walton in New Girl (2011)As much as Deschannel is the star of the show, Johnson has quietly become just as integral, as Nick grows and discovers himself, with the help of his future self and a water-massaging elderly Asian gentleman (the show can get weird sometimes.)For Schmidt and CeCe, reality is far less promising, as CeCe begins to sense her biological clock is ticking, and finds herself on a course for an arranged marriage to a pleasant man who just isn’t Schmidt. Meanwhile, the one true Schmidt seeks to alleviate the impending loss of his caramel queen by running back to his one true love, Elizabeth, a girl he dated in college, when he was hundreds of pounds heavier. It sets up a troubling love triangle, as the real Schmidt is just right for Elizabeth, but the Schmidt he wants to be is a perfect match for CeCe.Zooey Deschanel, Maria Thayer, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)While there’s a grimy aspect to Schmidt keeping two women secret from each other, on the other hand, Greenfield makes it work by showing Schmidt cares about both women and is, oddly, doing it to not hurt either of them, rather than out of some sort of romantic greed. It’s an unusual situation, and one the show handles well.The focus on Schmidt and CeCe this season unleashes the show’s secret weapon, as Simone proves to be one of the most consistently funny performers in the series, popping in a look or a delivery that’s just perfect for the situation. Many of the show’s best moments this season grow out of CeCe’s on and off again connection with Schmidt, with the season’s home-stretch existing only thanks to the culture clash that grows from her arranged marriage, Part of what makes her so entertaining is how her exotic beauty gets betrayed to hilarious effect by her ability to be wonderfully silly. (The other benefit of having CeCe around is the presence of her Russian modeling pal Nadia (Rebecca Reid), who is economically hysterical, with a higher laugh to word ratio than anyone on TV.)Jamie Lee Curtis, Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)The mix in the loft is why the show works so well, as the quartet of roomies and friends behaves realistically, no matter how offbeat the situation may be or how odd the four may sometimes get. So whether it’s Schmidt feeling old thanks to some hipsters who have imoved in and befriended Jess, the exploration of the group’s most annoying aspects (a.k.a. “pogos”) or Winston struggling with his period, they mercilessly tease each other, but have each other’s back to the end. This is never more clearly illustrated than in “Virgins,” where the crew one-up each other with their horrible tales of their first sexual experiences. The way they interact is as close to real friends as anything on TV.Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)With the series expanding upon the world created in the first season, we get to meet more of the people in the lives of the four roommates, and those additions were rather impressive, to go with returning speicial guests, like June Diane Raphael (playing Jess’ lesbian gynocologist.) The late Dennis Farina had a great turn as Nick’s con-man father, while Margot Martindale plays his brassy mom, Nick Kroll is his dim-witted brother and Bill Burr is his Beantown cousin. Meanwhile on Jess’ side, they snagged Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis to play her feuding parents (and Reiner should become a series regular as her dad). Add in Rob Riggle as Schmidt’s brother, Carla Gugino as his sexually-aggressive boss and Brenda Song as Winston’s new lady friend, and the show managed to cultivate a fine ensemble outside of the core five, expanding and improving the series.Zooey Deschanel, David Walton, Olivia Munn, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)The natural progression of the relationships between Nick and Jess and Schmidt and CeCe, along with the changes in the world around them, made for an entertaining season that balanced silly fun with genuine emotion.

REVIEW: UGLY BETTY – SEASON 4

Starring

America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves)
Eric Mabius (Resident Evil)
Judith Light (Transparent)
Michael Urie (Uptown Girls)
Becki Newton (How I Met Your Mother)
Ana Ortiz (Ralph Breaks The Internet)
Tony Plana (Lone Star)
Mark Indelicato (Dead of Summer)
Daniel Eric Gold (War of The Worlds)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Lynn Redgrave (Kinsey)
David Rasche (Men In Black 3)
Yaya DaCosta (In Time)
Alec Mapa (Doom Patrol)
Ralph Macchio (Cobra Kai)
Kristen Johnston (Mom)
Hamish Linklater (Legion)
Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos)
Grant Bowler (Lost)
Adam Ferrara (Rescue Me)
Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2)
Brooklyn Decker (Battleship)
Adam Rodriguez (Roswell)
Sarah Lafleur (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
Patricia Velasquez (The Mummy)
RuPaul (EDTV)
Katrina Bowden (Sex Drive)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
Dana Ivey (The Addams Family)
Donna Murphy (Spider-Man 2)
Freddy Rodríguez (Planet Terror0
Ashley Jensen (Sherlock Gnomes)
Christopher Gorham (2 Broke Girls)
Bryan Batt (Scream: The Series)
Luna Lauren Velez (Oz)

After four years and 85 episodes, the braces came off and Ugly Betty, the fish-out-of-water PA from Queens, finally became Betty Suarez, publisher of her own magazine in the UK.Vanessa Williams and America Ferrera in Ugly Betty (2006)The first nine episodes focussed mainly on self-contained storylines. Betty’s struggles to establish herself in her new role as a junior editor as ex-boyfriend Matt, now her boss, is petty and mean to her. An emotionally vulnerable Daniel Meade is drawn into a cult as he tries to deal with Molly‘s death. A ludicrous murder side-plot involving Nico Slater, which triggers Wilhelmina leaving Mode.Ana Ortiz and America Ferrera in Ugly Betty (2006)A few ongoing plots are also teed up. Amanda starts to think about her future. Claire Meade sets off in search of the son, Tyler, she had with Cal Hartley but was forced to give away. Hilda hooks up with Bobby Talercio, an old high school flame. Each of these becomes significant down the stretch, but are only touched upon initially. London Calling, starts to set up the finale, as well as giving us a sentimental excuse to welcome back Christina and ex-boyfriends Gio and Henry.America Ferrera in Ugly Betty (2006)The final episode gives us the closure we had all been waiting for, and does so with style. Hello Goodbye is as much about discovery as it is about departure, with every character getting their turn to take a final bow. Hilda, married and no longer tied to the Suarez house by her salon, gets her dream move to Manhattan. Justin finds contentment with Austin. Amanda finds her father. Daniel steps down as co-editor-in-chief to pursue the opportunity to find himself. Wilhelmina finds redemption, her lost love Connor and then, suddenly, without the need for scheming, she finally achieves her heart’s desire: Mode – a direct result of her altruistic act of saving Claire. Marc is shown the path to becoming creative director by Wilhelmina, and finds love and the possibility of a real relationship with Troy, after a lovely reversal where Justin returns the favour by turning into his mentor.Eric Mabius and America Ferrera in Ugly Betty (2006)There is one touching moment at the farewell party where we linger on Betty, Marc and Amanda – the triumvirate who have always been the beating heart of the show – dancing joyfully together, all previous bitchiness put aside as their friendship is finally affirmed.It was a fitting end, and one which suited the series better than the ending of its Colombian parent, Betty la Fea, would have done, where Betty marries Daniel’s equivalent, Armando. Betty has come a long way since she first walked through the door at Mode