The success of comedy pilots is ruled by chaos. Individual appeal means very little; whether a show sticks to tropes or knocks them all down, has recognizable stars or comes in fresh, or whether it’s even funny matters less than the question of which network it’s on. Fox, for instance, is a network that keeps its shows on a very short leash. They either perform like a ball of fire out of the gate, or they will be exterminated. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has one fairly recognizable face in Andy Samberg, the show’s star, and good writers behind the scenes. But will that be enough to make the show a success? Hit the jump for more.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows a group of homicide detectives in Brooklyn’s 99th precinct (ya don’t say!), who get a wake up call when their lax captain leaves and is replaced by the far more rigid Ray Holt (Andre Braugher, whose shows always wrongfully seem to get canceled). Samberg stars as Jake Peralta, a juvenile-acting smart-aleck who is talented enough that people forgive him his teenage behavior. He’s joined by not one, but two straight-laced, tough Latina cops (Melissa Fumero, playing the love interest, and Stephanie Beatriz, a different character’s love interest), and one bumbling side-kick, Charles (Joe Lo Truglio).
As I’ve repeated so many times, comedy pilots are usually low points in a series. It’s where characters are set up as familiar shells that get people interested without overwhelming them. Brooklyn Nine-Nine does that, but also manages to break free occasionally even in its first episode with some weirdness — always thanks to Samberg — and genuinely funny jokes before settling back into a routine.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine comes from creators Dan Goor (Parks and Recreation) and Michael Shur (The Office), and their influence is palpable. When Sergeant Jeffords (a great Terry Crews) gives his new boss the overview of the office, one can’t help but thinking they’re watching yet another incarnation of The Office. But that style worked for Parks and Rec, and it could work for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, too. It’s ultimately a workplace comedy, so a funny CSI this is not, although a Case of the Week will serve as fodder for other workplace shenanigans.
That can be good or bad. Is that we’ve seen it all before, or just can’t get enough? The show seems somewhat self-aware of its commitment to just fielding an office of young, attractive people by having Jeffords dismiss several middle-aged workers huddled in a group as “useless.” Yet while the show does play into plenty of other stereotypes, one gay character on the show subverts that … until his colleagues begin treating him with more deference because of it (instead of treating him the way they did before they found out he was gay, like how the character Max in ABC’s Happy Endings was always just one of the gang).
These are small points, and overall the show has enough going for it that viewers wouldn’t be wrong to stick with it for a few weeks at least. Hopefully Fox will do the same. If Brooklyn Nine-Nine can break out of its Office schtick the way Parks and Rec eventually did, and develops its secondary characters into more than just foils for Samberg’s Peralta, it could really get somewhere.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine premieres Tuesday, September 17th at 8:30 p.m. on Fox.