ROCKVILLE, MD September 30, 2013—Now that the Fall Season is in full swing, new primetime TV shows are muscling and jockeying for positions among their older and more established counterparts, as viewers begin to hibernate during the long fall months when the sun goes down after lunch.
Among the freshman shows this year is Brooklyn 99.
Brooklyn 99 is about Precinct 99 in Brooklyn and follows the antics of a homicide/major case squad in that New York City borough. Of course their station is right under the Brooklyn bridge, there is a racially and culturally diverse group of cops and civilian workers, and there is fun pretty much for everyone.
We join Brooklyn 99 with the arrival of the new CO, Captain Ray Holt, portrayed by Andre Baugher from “Glory.” The captain arrives at the 99 to find a cast of detectives and civilian aides who, while productive, pretty much do whatever they want. The ringleader for the precinct antics is Det. Jake Peralta, played by SNL’s Andy Samberg. Holt and Paralta don’t see eye to eye, resulting in tons of “is he standing behind me” material. Meanwhile the rest of the detectives try desperately to deal with the new commanding officer.
This show is basically the “Remember the Titans” of cop shows mixed with material from “Bad News Bears.” A newly promoted captain, who happens to be openly gay, gets his first command years after it was due to him. He has every reason to believe that all of his actions are under a microscope, and he will do just about everything he can to achieve perfection.
Standing in his way, obviously, is Andy Samberg’s Det. Paralta. He is the perfect combination of the reluctant team captain, the joker, and the ace pilot. He is reluctant to change just to accommodate the needs of the new captain; he struggles against the new regime; and he is constantly competing with Det. Amy Santiago, played by Melissa Fumero. She’s a high, by-the-books overachiever, who, were she were a dude, would probably wear glasses and hike up his pants all the time.
In addition to Baugher, Samberg, and Fumero there are a few familiar faces. Terry Crews plays the squad’s level-headed sergeant. Chelsea Peretti, well-known to longtime fans of TruTV’s “World’s Dumbest” franchise, plays the hilarious role of Gina Linetti, the civilian liaison who seems to take nothing seriously–which earns her instant favorable ratings from the rank and file.
And then there’s Joe Lo Truglio from “Reno 911” who plays Boyle, the naïve, hapless, and luckless-with-women veteran who is in love with the tough-as-nails, don’t talk to me at a bar, ever, Det. Rosa Diaz, portrayed by Stephanie Beatrice. Diaz may or may not actually like Boyle, but her constant rejections of his advances add fuel to the fire for the watchful Gina, who quickly swoops down on his innocence and crushes his hopes like a dream-killing she-hawk.
At first glance, commercials hyping this show give you the sense that it is probably going to last maybe half a season at best. You think it’s just another SNL alum vehicle spiced with a goulash of rising, former, and not-yet stars thrown together to somehow create the critical mass that will make this show tick. Samberg’s comedy is not for everyone, and the entertainment market place is already so saturated with police shows that if cop dramas were money they would be about as valuable as Argentine peso.
But Brooklyn 99 more than delivers by distancing itself from other cop shows by being primarily a comedy with a dash of cop drama thrown in. But Samberg’s antics grow on you, Truglio’s fumbling proves endearing, and you are hoping and praying that he snags Beatrice at one point or another. Terry Crews is as always, hilarious. Chelsea Peretti provides the levity in a show designed to create levity, Melissa Fumero plays Samberg’s frenemy to a T, and Andre Baugher fills the roll of boss/big bother/stern father rolled into one as the captain.
This new Fox comedy is clearly one that’s geared to appeal to that coveted 18-34 demographic. The humor ranges from physical comedy, to deadpan, to classic sit-com gags, all mixed together into a goofy amalgam of offbeat, awkward humor that modern sitcoms need these days to survive beyond the pilot.
It is not enough to be funny these days. You have to keep the restlessly changing ADHD-addled minds of today’s Millennial generation of viewers from tuning out your show before the first commercial barrage erupts. Accomplishing that means endless variety must be on tap continuously, extending even into the closing credits, which the next semi-commercial will partially obliterate anyway. So bring on those bright colors and fast-cut comedy routines to keep us gainfully distracted.
With so many comics on screen, and with its continually varying comic riffs, Brooklyn 99 is worth the watch. Given its Tuesday night slot, this show is just the shot of humor we all need to cure those crushing, soul destroying , beginning-of-the-week blues, as we charge up the hill of hump day. (Ask the GEICO camel.)
Brooklyn 99 airs Tuesday nights at 8:30 p.m. on Fox.
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