By Joe Strange
Sara briefly wrote about Brooklyn Nine-Nine in her Fall Schedule Pick n’ Mix, which you can, and should, check out here but having recently binge watched the first season, and with the second season premièring last Sunday, now seemed like the perfect time to do a dedicated Watch List for one of the funniest 20 minute comedies on TV at the minute.
Technical stuff out of the way first; Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a single camera comedy focussing on the events and work force of the 99th Precinct of the New York city police department. It stars Andy Samberg, Melissa Fumero, Stephanie Beatriz, Joe Lo Truglio and Terry Crews as detectives on the force who are adapting to the arrival of a new captain, played impeccably by Andre Braugher.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the cast is that it’s one of the more representative ensembles with regards to ethnicity on television at the minute. Which isn’t hard to achieve considering Sit Coms based in New York rarely have more than one character who isn’t white, but nevertheless it’s refreshing to see studios making more of a conscious effort at equality. The realism of the cast is one of the reasons the zany comedy works so well.
The other is that the majority of the show’s stars aren’t particularly well known, aside from Terry Crews, the ex football player turned comedy actor and Law and Order’s Andre Braugher, Andy Samburg is possibly the biggest name at the moment on the bill, and if you’re not an SNL or Lonely Island fan, then he’s really just a ‘that guy’ actor.
Not that this is a bad thing, with most of the cast fresh to the audience they have complete freedom to create iconic and hilarious characters, and aren’t tied down to any staple past characters they may have played, which they’ve done very well, with the help of the excellent writing.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine immediately hit the spot for me for 2 reasons, the first was that while there are some serial elements to the show, it’s more of a case a week deal, where you can enjoy the episode regardless of the order you watch them, something that I in fact did. Even when the show references past events you don’t feel like you’ve missed too much, it’s a very inclusive experience.
The second way the show won me over was the way the first season doesn’t feel like a first season at all. The introduction of Andre Braugher’s Captain Holt is what kick starts the season, and allows the audience to be introduced to the squad, but there is a very strong sense that these people have worked together for a long time, and have a lot of history, but still makes the audience feel a part of it all. So many shows start with a group of people coming together, or a main character or plot line entering the mix (Community’s study group, How I Met Your Mother’s Robin and Parks and Recreation’s combination of Ann and the Pit) that B99’s successful ‘hit the ground running’ approach really sets it apart.
It’d be really easy for Brooklyn Nine-Nine to resort to easy references to the plethora of procedural cop shows that inhabit our screens and make japes at their expense, but it’s a bigger show than that.
Rather than resort to parody, B99 has definitely made its own show and its own humour, thanks in great part to the incredible energy and comedic ability of the cast, in particular that of Andy Samberg, who I’m very happy to see doing more main roles. But the entire cast all bring something else to the show, and while some of the characters may seem stereotyped and cliché, the show is much better for it because frankly, it’s in breaking these stereotypes that the show gets a lot of the character progression.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is current comedy at its best, it’s carefree; unladen by heavy plot points and winding story lines. The show is very much about the humour and though the second season’s premier did carry on quite a few plot lines from the finale of the first, it seems to be shifting back to the show it can be. If you’re looking for a quick show to watch with lunch or dinner, or even to bring new to a group of friends, you could do a lot worse than adding Brooklyn Nine-Nine to your Watch List.