Reign in your Samberg, You Get a Sitcom: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

 

 

We swear, we have no affiliation to Fox.  They’ve dumb-lucked their way into some very entertaining shows.  Knowing Fox’s history, they’ll all likely be cancelled soon.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine comes from the minds of Dan Goor and Michael Schur, the guys behind Parks & Recreation and The Office as well, both clear influences.  It appears they are improving on their sitcom schedule.  If you have watched P&Rfrom the beginning, you know that after 2 uneven seasons, the show started to gel towards the end of season 2/beginning of season 3 into the zany, goofy, absurdist-yet-touching show many of us enjoy so wholeheartedly today.  As for The Office, I will maintain that seasons 2 and 3 are some of the finest things ever put on television, and most would agree an overall revolutionary American sitcom in general.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has eased into a similarly gleeful, zany (yet somehow restrain-y?) zest in its first season.  I would guess this is why they took several awards home recently over more established shows (whole other can-o’-worms).  Goor and Schur clearly understand a few things needed in a sitcom to avoid being another run-of-the-mill-workplace-comedy. 
First and foremost?  The show was brilliantly cast.  Samberg reigns in his total-weirdo shtick and creates Jake Peralta,  a bizarre man-boy who genuinely loves and is REALLY GOOD at his job (calling to mind another one of our favorites JD from Scrubs… god, are we predictable).
Andre Braugher delivers spectacularly monotone one-liners as the Captain Ray Holt, who happens to be gay.  Also black, in case you missed that.  He is a perfect straight man to the maniac hilarity of the rest of his unit.

I scared myself a little posting this.

 
Melissa Fumero has an excellent rapport with Samberg as his partner, long-time friend (they went through academy together) and semi-romantic interest (interesting how they play this episode to episode).  She desperately seeks the approval of Captain Holt and overall does a neat job of containing that ‘ooh-ooh, pick me! pick me!’ kid in class vibe to her Detective Amy Santiago (Det. Terrible Detective above).

Terry Crews is, simply put, a national treasure and is wonderful in everything he does.  He crushes it in B-99 as Terence “Terry” Jeffords the badass cop with a big mushy center.

Stephanie Beatriz checks in as a terrifying, tough-as-nails Detective Rosa Diaz.  Much of what I love about her character is the abruptness of her dialogue.  Here’s a perfect example:
Rosa: Can’t tell you how many nuns I wanted to beat up in Catholic school. Ten.
Terry: I didn’t know you went to Catholic school.
Rosa: Good. You shouldn’t know it.
Her no-nonsense Diaz works well with the entire cast, but I especially delight in her interactions with Chelsea Peretti’s Gina Linetti, a civilian liaison.  Peretti has a sly, oftentimes maniacal wit and plays the character with a just-over-the-line crazy hard to describe in words (so… my ideal woman).  Therefore, I shall allow her to do so in dance:

 

 

This scene (click for all 22 glorious seconds) sums up her character. She is communicating to at risk youth being recruited for the ‘junior police force,’ just for reference’s sake.

 Sheer delightful insanity.  Plus I think she’s pretty.  So, there.

Rounding out the main cast is Jo Lou Truglio, who always makes us laugh. Honestly, he often cracks me up in the show just by the way he’s standing in a scene.  A bit biased there, but his eager, foodie sidekick to Samberg’s Peralta plays wonderfully. 

(no context given, go watch it)

Everyone else rounding out the cast, from guest spots (hello to the always welcome Dean “Mayhem” Winters) to background players all click in a way little seen in a newborn sitcom.

The pair absolutely nail the opens.  Much like The Office or Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine always opens with an almost-related bit or gag.  They have yet to disappoint.  I would never want to spoil a gag.  If you have watched The Office, you know some of the best opens were Jim-Dwight related.  Everyone gets their chance to shine on Nine-Nine, and to date I have yet to be disappointed.  This is a deceptively brilliant concept, the opener-gag.  The brilliance/hilarity of them puts you in a good mood for comedy.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine was a welcome surprise to me, quickly becoming one of my favorites. The writing, unsurprisingly, stays consistently amusing.  One of the reasons I adore Parks & Recreation so  much lies in the show’s inability to make a ‘bad’ episode.  I cannot recall an episode where someone, thing, or gag has not elicited a guffaw.  Only special shows can still make you laugh in an otherwise flat episode.  Samberg, Braugher and the gang project a nice, worn-in feel to the characters.  Their back-and-forths feel believable.  The characters, as is the creators’ style, stay absurdly within themselves.  The show does a sneaky job of actually building some character beats and backgrounds, pretty much the most difficult thing to do in a straight-up sitcom.  That, in my opinion, is where Goor and Schur’s shows truly shine.  Both P&R and B-99 (as well as earlier-season Office episodes), despite the wackiness, make you care.  Likability is a tricky tango. Good casting and good writing come into play, but a truly likable cast has an ‘X-factor.’  You can tell when a cast has fun shooting.  These fake cops most assuredly do.
 
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Check out Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  And while you’re at it, check out Enlisted on Friday nights,  I’ll be writing a post about them soon, tis a wonderful show in need of ratings (you’re welcome, FOX) – before they’re cancelled (thanks, FOX).  Further zany comedy, and more uniforms!

Watch out for those mean streets.
-W
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About Author: Will McMahon

Will has eclectic movie, television and music tastes. He likes Batman, horror movies and Mark Ruffalo. Has seen every episode of 'The O.C.' at least twice, so take him with a large grain of salt. Accomplished beard grower. Bad movie enthusiast. Lyrical genius. Some have said he is a real-life version of Nick Miller from 'New Girl.' No word on whether or not this is a compliment.

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  1. […] Daniels and Schur have created 2 wonderful, classic shows and one growing into something special (we love Brooklyn Nine-Nine).   Nine-Nine has been steadily growing with a relentless goofy grin as they traverse cop tropes. […]