When you have a large cast like New Girl now has, it can be difficult to try and service all of the characters. “Dice” seems to indicate that the best course of action is to simply bifurcate the cast into a couple of groups, and let them have their own little adventures. In particular, what this episode does is give the bulk of the story to Jess and Schmidt, while giving the rest of the gang a goofy little story to break things up a bit. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee success, but having a bunch of great stuff in your episode, like “Dice” does, provides such a guarantee.
The combination of Jess and Schmidt, especially in a story about love and dating, is a smart ploy, and it goes about as well as possible. Sure, the notion of the fake Tinder, the titular Dice, is a bit silly, as are Jess’ first forays into usage, but once Schmidt and his Taboo buzzer begin schooling Jess on the nature of internet dating (which is more than a series of e-mails), it is fantastic. It’s hard to pair Jess and Nick now, with their romantic past hanging over them, but Schmidt and Jess can just bring the hilarity, which is exactly what they do in this episode.
Sure, it isn’t surprising that after Jess gives Schmidt her big speech about love, that ol’ dreamy eyes turns out to be a comedic magician, but all comedy needs a payoff, and this is a particularly clever one. Is there anything interesting about Schmidt’s cold heart perhaps melting? Not really, and the strong suit of New Girl remains the comedy, not the emotional beats. But evidently, simply telling great jokes isn’t enough. But the jokes are excellent, and this episode was loaded with laughs, both in this storyline and the secondary one.
That other plot is really just about Nick, CeCe, and Coach doing marijuana drugs, and then being all high. Oh, and then they go to a party with Winston—a party consisting entirely of cops. This is about the funniest thing they could do with this idea of Winston becoming a cop. Hannah Simone got to be funnier than usual, and Jake Johnson was, of course, brilliant in all his stoned paranoia. The final payoff, where Winston and the cops prank the trio by pretending to arrest them so that Winston can finally connect with his police academy brethren, is satisfying enough. The journey remains the strength of New Girl, but they can usually provide somewhat solid destinations.
“Dice” succeeds when it comes to the most important thing about sitcoms; it is very funny. At times, it’s hilarious. Schmidt is in fine form, and the show eschews any big ideas or overarching themes, and just lets the characters be funny. Yes, obviously Jess’ dating life is going to be a part of a larger something, but as long as the results are as enjoyable as they are in this episode, we’re in for an excellent fourth season.
Chris Morgan is an Internet gadabout who writes on a variety of topics and in a variety of mediums. If he had to select one thing to promote, however, it would be his ’90s blog/podcast, Existential Parachute Pants. You can also follow him on Twitter.