By: Emily Cottone
Expectations were high for the ultra-hyped cop comedy BROOKLYN NINE-NINE. SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE fans were apprehensive at best when they heard Andy Samberg was wading into the dangerous waters of the network sitcom. Fortunately, the pilot is smart, well-paced, and guaranteed to produce a few laughs in its likeable and chaotic premiere.
From the creators of PARKS AND RECREATION, Dan Goor and Michael Schur, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE has the potential to end up as fall’s freshest new comedy. Even as a send-off to cop comedies of days past, its reverence only very rarely comes off as redundancy.
Andy Samberg is well cast as the irreverent Detective Jake Peralta. Fans of Samberg will be happy to see the return of his zany behavior and skeptics will be impressed by the refreshing dose of restraint in his performance.
Samberg could have easily played yet another bumbling buffoon but instead Peralta is a genuinely gifted policeman that happens to suffer from an acute case of Man Child Syndrome. “The only problem he hasn’t solved is how to grow up” cracks his sergeant, played by Terry Crews. This is an opportunity to test Samberg as a performer and I’m confident the pay-off will be well worth it.
While Samberg may be billed as the shows headliner, it is Andre Braugher’s portrayal of Captain Ray Holt that shines. Braugher, who is known for his dramatic work, makes the perfect straight man to Andy’s wacky antics. It’s obvious that Braugher is relishing testing out his comedic chops. His wry humor and dead pan retorts were without a doubt the highlight of the pilot.
Braugher’s by the book mindset will clash marvelously with Samberg’s adolescent laissez faire attitude. Fortunately, it steers clear of the tired cliché of making the two men enemies as an overtly hostile relationship would have ruined the tone of the show. The rivalry of Holt and Peralta isn’t based on destroying each other as much as desperately trying to understand each other.
Full disclosure: After watching the pandering train wreck that is DADS anything that followed would have impressed me.
Lowered expectation aside, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE deserves its early praise; conditionally. A decent pilot does not a successful series make and NINE-NINE has a few kinks to work out before it can be considered certifiable comedy gold.
Although labeled as a comedy procedural, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE is a workplace comedy at heart and like any successful workplace comedy it’s only as good as its ensemble. While the entire supporting cast is definitely charming (special nod to Stephanie Beatriz, who’s character Detective Rose Diaz has a scowl that could match Christina Yang on her worst day) the show will quickly lose its magic if continues to rely on the characters one dimensional quirks.
If BROOKLYN NINE-NINE is anything like its predecessors THE OFFICE and PARKS AND RECREATION, that missing character depth will come in time as the show begins to understand and expand its universe. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day (Either was PARKS AND RECREATION. Remember what a mess that show was at first?).
The Verdict: BROOKLYN NINE-NINE is worth sticking around for. I only hope the show doesn’t cross the line from satire to obtuse caricature…
Emily Cottone has been a TV addict since she her awkward middle school days when she realized the characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were her longest and most stable relationships. Even though she has long since managed to establish actual human connections television remains one of her very best friends. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyTalksTV.