Saturday, 14 June 2014

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 1

I review the first season of Golden Globe winning sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, starring Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews and Chelsea Peretti.

I rarely, if ever watch sitcoms, and I think Brooklyn Nine-Nine might just be the first sitcom that I’ve watched an entire season of, as my normal go-to is either SFF, Historical or Crime series. However, I was willing to make the exception ever since I found out that this show won an award, so when I did give it a try, I was quite impressed. Brooklyn Nine-Nine turned out to be one of the many shows that underwent a massive improvement as it went on during its first season (Arrow and Agents of SHIELD being perhaps the most notable other two in recent years that fell into this trap) and the season finale, which I watched earlier today, was probably among the strongest of the series, providing several amusing moments that had me laughing out loud more than once.

The general premise of this show is simple. It focuses on the 99th Precinct team of Detectives with their newly appointed Captain Holt (Andre Braugher), a tough, strict character experiencing his first role as Captain due to his homosexuality. We also have the wisecracking, immature but talented Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg), and his overachieving partner Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero). However, the list of cast members doesn’t stop there, with a surprisingly long list. We get Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), an honest but nervous and clumsy Detective who’s best friends with Jake. There’s also Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), who’s a calm, calculated Natasha Romanoff-ish figure with an anger management issues and a distinct lack of empathy. Rounding out the cast, we also get Sergeant Terence “Terry” Jeffords (Terry Crews), an avid bodybuilder and the squad’s leader, as well as Administrator Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti), the sardonic assistant to Captain Holt.

Like most comedies, the personalities of the cast are overplayed massively. The team don’t make constant fun of Holt’s homosexuality, treating it as normal, but every quirk that a character has is often utilised for laughs. Santiago’s obsessive nature is constantly the source of humour, as is Boyle’s honesty and Diaz’s lack of empathy. This allows for a fun, entertaining comedy that is much about the characters as it is about the jokes (thankfully, there’s no laugh track) and surprisingly there isn’t a single detestable character on this show, with them all having their unique quirks. I’d quite happily stay for another season with this cast, especially if the show continues the strong trend that the latter half of the season provided.

Whilst the early episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine may not be quite as strong as the latter half, almost every show improves overtime (apart from Firefly, which was excellent from the get go) and this show has been going from strength to strength lately, proving why it’s deserving for once of winning not only the best television series that’s a musical or comedy at the Golden Globes, but also one of the actors – Andy Samberg’s prize for best actor in a comedy series is deserved. He takes a while to grow on you, but there’s pretty much at least one guaranteed moment per episode where you’ll be laughing out loud at least once when you get used to the show.

The police procedural angle of the show is something that’s also played for laughs and works well. With 22 half an hour episodes we get to utilise a variety of crimes per episode including themed ones (S1x10 is a Thanksgiving episode whilst S1x11 is a Christmas episode) however, not for the last time, they made me wish that UK shows aired at a similar time as US programs – because we got the Christmas episode a few months later than planned, and like watching any Christmas special out of season (Brooklyn Nine-Nine is far from the only victim of this) that particular episode suffers as a result.

Rivalries are also something that this series touches upon. The 99th Precinct battles against others at a Precinct “Tactical Village” in the titular episode (S1x19) where we get a look at how others in the Police Department view the 99th. S1x09 “Sal’s Pizza” touches on the rivalry between the 99th Precinct and the Fire Brigade when Jake’s favourite Pizza place is burnt down, and the show even handles with the issues of corruption in the final episode of the season – S1x22 “Charges and Specs” which whilst it may be handled lightly, does provide an interesting cliffhanger for Season 2 to return to.

On the whole then, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a very strong sitcom. If you like comedy shows then this should be right up your street – it may take a few episodes to grow on you (I was hooked by S1x09, “Sal’s Pizza) for example – but on the whole it’s an awesome show and one of my favourites of last year.


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