From the outset, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” had a lot working against it. Entering the oversaturated and overdone cop genre as a comedy raised more than a few eyebrows. Some questioned whether or not the tone could remain comedic in such a serious setting. Others wondered if producer and star Andy Samberg would succeed as an “SNL” alum, where so many before him have failed – for every Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, there are a dozen Rachel Dratchs and Darrell Hammonds.
And to top it all off, the show debuted on FOX, a network known for rolling out and cancelling shows at a breakneck pace. Toss in an overwhelming advertising campaign typical of an unsure new series and I was completely uninterested. But after the show was renewed for a second season, I decided to give it a chance and I’m glad I did.
A great cast of players and a fearless approach from day one make “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” a must-see comedy for anyone who hasn’t tuned in yet.
Coming out Strong in Season One
With possibly the funniest inaugural season of any sitcom in recent memory, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” came out swinging and has gotten progressively better from there. In his element, surrounded by comedic talent, Samberg shines as the goofy, yet inexplicably successful, NYC police detective Jake Peralta.
When recommending comedies to friends, I often find myself prefacing my recommendation by explaining away a rough first season. “Scrubs,” “Parks and Recreation,” and “30 Rock”—all renowned comedies in their own right—suffer from this affliction. They took time to find a groove for both their particular brand of comedy and the characters themselves.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” shares no such problems. Avoiding typical pitfalls like slow, unfunny character development, the show didn’t hesitate to roll out its main players quickly and aggressively in season one. This fearless approach paid off with two Golden Globes and an Emmy, despite the fledgling show’s ongoing struggle to attract viewers.
Perhaps the biggest reason “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” works so well is that Samberg is not carrying the cast. If anything, he is just one cog in a number of gears that make it tick. Each character is intriguing, likeable, memorable and—most importantly—they all play off one another in some incredibly humorous ways.
Who could be better to counter to Samberg’s goofiness than Andre Braugher’s stern Captain Holt? All of the show’s regular and returning characters boast multifaceted and interesting traits. Holt’s stern and stoic personality is entertaining on its own, but a grouchy police captain is the oldest trope in the police show book. What makes Holt truly interesting is the fact he’s a gay cop who climbed up the ranks of the NYPD. His career along with his married life are both explored throughout season one, creating a well-written character that is more than a simple cop stereotype.
This applies to every character on the show, from the extremely muscle-bound yet insecure Terry (Terry Crews) to the apathetic administrator Gina (Chelsea Peretti) who passionately runs a dance troupe. Backed by talented and seriously funny actors, this slew of personalities combine to create a frantic and endlessly hysterical half hour of TV. Every person on the show has so much depth it’s almost impossible to catch every gag and joke packed into each episode.
While shows like “Parks and Recreation” might take a season or two to fully introduce its main players enough to make inside jokes with viewers, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” seems to have passed right over this step. The amusing aspects of each character aren’t buried in nuance and references to episodes long past – they are obvious and in your face.
When Peralta’s partner Detective Boyle is waxing poetic about different NYC pizzas’ “mouth feel” I don’t need to know about his past as an online food reviewer to laugh. Because the character’s obsessive and neurotic nature tell me everything I need to know.
Anyone who has seen Samberg on screen before could reasonably expect him to take center stage in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Yet he is simply another complex personality in a packed cast of talented comedians. And when other comedians are giving Andy Samberg a run for his money for the funniest person on the screen, you can be sure that show is going to be pretty damn funny.
Photo Credit: Scott Schafer/FOX