Written by Jessica Hanlon.
Comedy pickings are looking pretty slim this fall; especially if you are not a fan of the ‘family sitcom’ which appears to be all the rage at the moment. Despite, or perhaps in spite, of this increased fanfare for the family sitcom, Fox’s new fall debut Brooklyn Nine-Nine offers the potential of comedy series that could develop into a show that is actually funny; worthy of its place in your weekly schedule of television shows.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows the story of smart-ass ace detective Jake Peralta (Adam Samberg) and the rag-tag group of detectives who make up the Nine-Nine detective squad. Used to running to their own set of rules, the squad is given a shake up with arrival of their new straight-laced commanding officer, Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher), who wants to turn them into an effective, professional and respectable precinct.
Whilst this might not be an entirely original premise, the clarity of the show’s contrast works in selling us the show’s concept. As a good pilot should do, Brooklyn Nine-Nine does well to establish the tone, characters, relationships and basic set up of the series. For those of you who are looking for a run-of-the-mill crime procedural, don’t be mistaken into thinking that is what you will get here ““ nothing, not even murders, are taken entirely seriously at the Nine-Nine. But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, because the cast is so grounded and have chemistry, this comedy works.
Part of its charm undeniably comes from lead Samberg as ace detective Jake Peralta. Whilst it is hard to imagine Samberg without a turtleneck and chain, he does a wonderful job of capturing that smart-ass “too smart for my own good” routine here, which is a refreshing change from the caricatures of his SNL days. Likewise, Braugher’s Holt is an excellent anchor to Samberg’s performance and indeed the show as a whole. His comedic skills are perfectly tuned to the over acting of the cast around him, which means he manages to deliver some of the episodes funniest lines. Captain Holt also has another special trait (which we won’t spoil but is given away very quickly in the episode) that serves to not only give his character extra motivation to prove himself, but to also give the audience another reason to like and empathise with this stand-up guy.
Show creators Mike Schur and Daniel J.Goor have assembled a strong cast of characters around these two leads. These include the likable Terry Crews as a sergeant whose recent role as a father has made him reluctant to go out into the field, Joe Lo Truglio as the squad’s clumsy, lovable and dogged detective desperate to prove himself, Chelsea Pertti as a quirky civilian aide, Stephanie Beatriz as the temperamental hard-nosed detective whom the squad fears and Melissa Fumero as Peralta’s partner, rival and potential love interest.
The cast is quickly presented to us as a collection of stereotypical personalities, but that is commonplace in pilots, particularly a comedic one. In saying that, these characters have potential and the strength of a cast with a long and revered comedy background to bring that potential to life. If Brooklyn Nine-Nine wants to stick around, future episodes need to play to those strengths by giving its characters ambitions, desires and qualities to make them three-dimensional.
Similarly, it needs to make sure it consistently develops a story that is strong enough for its audience to latch on to. So much of the pilot is spent introducing us to the crazy kooky characters of the precinct that you can’t help but wonder what they do when they aren’t laughing at each other’s antics. To be fair, crime was stopped and solved in this pilot, but it was neither memorable nor a believably good use of our characters’ time, skills and efforts. Without interesting villains or crime that requires more than a five-year old’s deduction skills, Brooklyn Nine-Nine may not have enough to sustain the audience on its own.
However, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is ultimately a funny send up of the numerous crime-procedurals that you see on TV. With cases that are potentially as bizarre as they are hilarious, and characters that are funny without being annoying, this brain child of Parks and Recreation show runners Mike Schur and Daniel J.Goor has used its pilot to show us that cops, like bureaucracy, can be hilarious. With these two at the helm, and this cast led by Samberg and Braugher, there is certainly enough ambition, if channelled correctly, to make this comedy one that you can laugh at.
THE REEL SCORE: 6/10 – KEEP AN EYE ON IT.