Friday, September 20, 2013

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Episode 1: Pilot
By: Carlos Uribe

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy about a police precinct in Brooklyn.

Spoilers Ahoy!

The most prevalent genre in television drama is the cop procedural. The weekly murder cases provide a natural narrative formula that can last for hundreds of episodes. The one thing that separates them is a unique hook and the individual characters. A great cop show has a team with a fun dynamic that provides the real reason people are going to tune in. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is not a drama but it is a comedy that takes place at a police station. The pilot seems to hint that there's going to be a weekly case. It's going to be interesting how this show handles cases as the series goes along. The pilot's plot revolves around a murder case but it's also busy setting up the premise, characters, and relationships. The pilot basically presents the actual case as to what's played for laughs rather than the victim of the crime. This is a good rule for the show to follow because otherwise it'll be like the show is actually making light of murder rather than presenting a lighthearted take on the police workplace. At the same time, there is some question on how long they can really keep this up before the show starts to get repetitive. Obviously, I'm not stating they should make fun of victims or the crime itself. What I'm getting at is that they have to basically not only come up with a crime every week but a funny way to solve it. My fear might be unfounded but I wouldn't be surprised if the show eventually dropped the weekly case formula. Whatever the case, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a funny cop show that might be the best new comedy of the season. Granted, most of the comedy pilots this season have yet to premiere but it's already set the bar high. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a great premise, a good pilot, and solid characters with a dynamic that provides a lot of laughs. It's a bit sad that I couldn't fit this into the review roster but I'll certainly be tuning in weekly.

The pilot for Brooklyn Nine-Nine is very funny. This is largely due to three things. The first is that the dynamic between Andre Baugher and Andy Samberg is pretty great. The great juxtaposition between Samberg's schtick and Braugher's serious nature is a comedy minefield. That's not the only dynamic that works well as Andy Samberg and Melissa Fumero have opposing styles that mesh well together. There is a final great comedic pairing between two members of the ensemble cast as well: Joe Lo Truglio and Stephanie Beatriz. The second reason is that this is a workplace comedy that feels real enough to be relatable but wacky enough to be a lot of fun. This is the kind of police station that you would like to work for because it seems like a blast. The third reason is that the script of the pilot is very strong and filled with a great combination of smart jokes and broad comedic bits. A strong script, dynamic, and the fun workplace all create an episode of television that creates a strong first impression. Now there are problems with the Brooklyn Nine-Nine pilot. There's a lot of set-up that it has to get through, the character arc by Samberg's character is a little rushed, and there's scenes that simply fall flat. The first problem shouldn't be present beyond the first few episodes as everything will have been established. This should allow future character arcs in episodes to be given the proper time for them to actually work. As for the final problem, all comedy series tend to improve once a writer's room is involved in the writing process. Overall, I can't really find any serious structural problems that should present a problem for the series beyond the potential for repetitive weekly cases.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a score of very good characters that work well for it. The protagonist is Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg). He's the best detective in the precinct but he's very immature. He's laid-back, likes to have fun, and childish. Andy Samberg does a great job in bringing the character to life and the pilot utilizes him well. There is a chance that he could be overused in future episodes but the producers seem to know how to balance him well with the rest of the cast. He forms an antagonistic relationship with his new captain, Ray Holt (Andre Baugher). Ray takes the job seriously who demands that his team dresses properly and follows the rules. He could have simply been the typical hard-ass boss but the writers give him some depth by making him gay. His sexuality has held him back from having his own command so it motivates him to have the best precinct of all time. He has something to prove because it's been denied from him for so long. A black gay man in charge might rankle some viewers as it's pretty progressive but it also makes the show a bit relevant in today's culture. Peralta and Holt are great together and the pilot is already moving them towards having a friendly antagonistic relationship rather than actually putting them at odds. They'll have a trouble getting along because of their differences in maturity but their going to respect each other. The main female character is Peralta's partner, Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero). Amy wants to prove that she's tough because she comes from a family of brothers. Amy is more mature than Peralta and her character is a little more nuanced. At the same time, the two bounce off each other well. These three characters basically form the main triumvirate of the series. The way they interact with Peralta is going be the reason we watch the show but it's also going to be what creates conflict. Their relationship between all three is going to be forming the heart of the show as well as what makes us laugh.

The rest of the ensemble of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is strong. Terry Crews plays Seargant Terry Jeffords. Jeffords is a big guy who looks like he'll be a threat in a fight. Only he's been softened ever since he had two babies (Cagney and Lacey) so he's out of field duty. This juxtaposition works well for the character. The two other detectives are Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) and Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz). Charles is the kind of detective who is clumsy and not the best at solving puzzles but he has the work ethic to make up for it. Rosa is a tough, scary cop who can get anything she wants by looking at anybody. This makes her a bit difficult to read but her aggressive personality pairs well with Charlie's timid one. The final main character is Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti) that doesn't have much of a personality despite being a bit odd. It speaks to the show's writing that she fits into the show's universe. All of these characters help form a strong ensemble that the show can properly utilize for comedy. What I can't wait is for Brooklyn Nine-Nine to experiment with the pairings to find surprising combinations. After all, Peralta is the main character. That means he should have a strong relationship with every single character on the show.

The pilot for Brooklyn-Nine is funny. It has a strong pilot that works well because of the dynamics between the characters, a strong script, and the fun workplace. The three main characters are all very well-defined and work well with each other. The rest of the ensemble cast isn't as developed but they are all strong players that the writers can utilize. The premise of the show is strong even if the weekly cases might strain the writers. Overall, this is a show that I can definably recommend and it's likely this might be the best new comedy of the season.

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