Out of all of the people that we expected to see turning up on “New Girl,” Kareen Abdul-Jabbar was not on the list. With that in mind, we actually found his appearance to be thoroughly surprising and entertaining.
Jabbar was really just playing himself this week, though for some inexplicable reason he was working at a sports radio show operated by quite possibly the meanest tyrant in radio history. This was a man who was part Skip Bayless and part Rush Limbaugh — no joke — and he was frightening enough that he actually encouraged Winston to quit his new job while he could.
Instead, Winston ended up putting his junk in Kareem’s milkshake at the suggestion of his new boss — which has to be the most awkward thing Kareem has done in entertainment since “Airplane!”.
In moving away from Kareem and focusing on the rest of the episode, it really just ended up feeling inconsistent. The story about Dermot Mulroney’s Russell getting to know the guys was nice, but the entire drinking game was not nearly as funny as it could have been (see “How I Met Your Mother” for how to make a great made-up game). We also had a strange time believing that Russell was so cool being out of his element in Jess’ apartment. We do like seeing the two together, though, and we hope that this relationship lasts for as long as the writers will let it (which is hopefully for a few more weeks).
Since Schmidt and Nick were relegated mostly to backseat roles this episode, Winston really had his shining moment courtesy of a few milkshakes and a career change. Did his story fully deliver? More so than anything else he has been handed this season. Maybe it’s because his character was created a bit more on-the-fly rather than the others thanks to Damon Wayans Jr. exiting after the pilot, but he has been the most-neglected character on the show thus far in terms of development.
Even though Tuesday night’s “New Girl” was not the best of the season by any means, we hope that the return of the “Glee” lead-in will lead to a rise in viewers. This is still the best new comedy on TV, and its decline in recent weeks courtesy of a frigid comedy block had us shaking in our boots.