It may not have shared as much critical success as HBO’s Girls, or ratings that match the titanic numbers accumulated week after week by The Big Bang Theory, but clearly The Hollywood Foreign Press saw something special in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, awarding it both the best comedy series award & best comedy actor award for its star Andy Samberg, at this year’s Golden Globes. Even the cast and crew seemed surprised; it’s not often that the Globes dish out such accolades to brand new shows, but when they do, it’s for good reason. Like Samberg himself, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is charming and entertaining, a hilarious pastiche of America’s insurmountable amount of crime dramas that feels just as comfortable nailing the subtle one-liners as it does playing for the bigger, more obvious laughs.
Set in 99th prescient of the NYPD’s Brooklyn department, the show follows Samberg’s Det. Jake Peralta, a brilliant but immature investigator who must try to rein in his behavior when the new commanding officer, Ray Holt, takes charge. Following the various work-based shenanigans of Peralta & his colleagues, Brooklyn Nine-Nine takes the structure of a workplace sitcom, unleashing a relentless mix of diverse and broadly appealing comedy.
The show shares much of its DNA with other workplace comedies, most notably The US Office and Parks & Recreation; with Office co-creator Mike Schur on hand to offer Brooklyn Nine-Nine creative guidance, and creator Dan Goor having previously been a lead writer on Parks. Like those shows, Brooklyn Nine-Nine doesn’t just rely on situational comedy; each character methodically planned to add comedic layers to the ensemble.
Samberg’s man-child may be the show’s focus, but it’s the supporting talent that gives Brooklyn Nine-Nine its real energy. Terry Crew is a constant delight as the prescient’s sergeant, who suffers from a severely nervous disposition despite his immense physical appearance. Stephanie Beatriz’s hard-nosed detective provides a perfect balance to Joe Lo Truglio’s hapless fool, who happens to be infatuated with her. While equally high praise must be given to the writers and to Andre Braugher for Captain Ray Holt, Peralta’s persistently and hilariously stoic chief whose homosexuality is, mercifully, never played for cheap sniggers.
The biggest laughs though, come from the show’s consistently well-observed pop culture references; which has so far encompassed everything from Peralta taking timeout from an investigation to quote Donnie Brasco, to a brilliant riff on The Hurt Locker during the opening of episode 8. This pleasantly surprising mix of brainy and brainless comedy is what makes Brooklyn Nine-Nine so appealing; by refusing to simply rely on the easy laughs, it’s a show that dares, however subtly, to challenge the status quo.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is currently being aired every Thursday at 9pm on E4.