There are a lot of new and exciting shows premiering this fall. September premieres range from Pan Am (September 25 on ABC), The Playboy Club (September 19 on NBC), Unforgettable (September 20 on CBS) and The Ringer (September 13 on CW). Simon Cowell’s The X Factor (September 21) will make its American debut on September 21 on FOX. Also sure to score in ratings is the return of season 13 of Dancing with the Stars (ABC September 19), the third season of Glee (September 20 on FOX) and the highly anticipated Two and a Half Men premiere with Ashton Kutcher taking over as lead character Walden Schmidt (September 19 on CBS). If these shows aren’t enough reason to forever veg-out on your comfy couch with an extra large tub of buttered popcorn, returning fan favorite sitcoms, reality shows and competition shows will make their full force debut in September as well (and yes, Survivor will be returning for its twenty-third season in case you had any doubt).

Television networks competing for ratings and for the next hit show isn’t anything new. However, something that is different is FOX’s marketing approach to their new sitcom “New Girl.” Since September 6 and up till the pilot’s premiere on September 20th, the first episode of “New Girl” is available for free on iTunes, Hulu and Fox.com. Though the network realizes pilot ratings may be low because of the free online preview, they hope word of mouth and online buzz will help the show overall. I used this opportunity to get a jump-start on the series. While I do reward the network for taking this risk, “New Girl” failed to make the right first impression it needed to succeed.

The strength of a successful show lies in the character development. The lead actress of “New Girl,” Zoey Deschanel, has a strong fan following thanks to her roles in the films 500 Days of Summer, Our Idiot Brother and Elf. However, in her starring television role, her quirky character seems to be all over the place in the pilot episode. Deschanel plays the role of Jess, a young female who moves in with three random males after being cheated on by her boyfriend. One moment she’s the wacky girl burning her hair off, wearing overalls and bursting out in song and the next she’s giving advice on how to woo the ladies to her roommates. Even with the tagline “simply adorkable,” character inconsistency is one of the weak points of the show. Stronger character identity must be improved as this is one of the most important aspects to keep an audience tuned in.

The other main issue I have with the pilot episode is the lack of a stable plot line. Liz Meriwether, writer of the screenplay for “No Strings Attached,” put her writing chops back to work for “New Girl.” The show bounced from one issue to the next. There’s no denying fast paced sitcoms are entertaining and popular and FOX is known for its quick timed shows. However, they are only popular when the material is coherent. The bouncy plot may arise from the various personalities of the three male roommates who don’t seem to mesh well together just yet. However, I only saw the first episode and character development and plot line may just take some time to flourish.

New Girl” has a lot going for it already. It will air in the prime post-Glee spot at 9 PM and both shows cater to similar audiences. “New Girl” has a lot of buzz already and it will be interesting to see if this show can gain some momentum after it’s unique and risky marketing campaign. Though the show has flaws, I still am rooting for this new comedy. I think Zoey and the cast will be able to pull through.

Till then,

Danielle Genet

Resources:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44412068/ns/today-entertainment/t/zooey-deschanels-new-girl-arrives-early-online/#.Tm-YsxzZLEc

http://www.tvguide.com/special/fall-preview/calendar.aspx

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