Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pilot Review: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
Premiered September 17 at 8:30pm

This show has been touted as one of the best new comedies of the fall, and hopes were high considering the involvement of two very different actors with similar first names: Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher. I actually had the chance to see this pilot aboard a JetBlue flight to Los Angeles, noticing that it was playing at the beginning of the ride and ultimately catching it on its third hourly airing. My excitement wasn’t quite fulfilled, however, since this is a perfectly decent comedy that just isn’t all that funny. Samberg, as Detective Jake Peralta, is operating in his own world, treating everything around him like a joke, which works well at some points and less productively at others. Braugher is ideal casting considering the grave seriousness of his last role on ABC’s short-lived “Last Resort” and the tremendous opportunity for self-parody on this series as Ray Holt, the openly gay captain with little patience for Jake’s shenanigans. The rest of the ensemble is populated with actors who in some cases have just enough to do to make them amusing supporting players, like Terry Crews as Sergeant Terry Jeffords, and in others have either too much to do, like Joe Lo Truglio’s overenthusiastic Detective Charles Boyle, or not enough written into them to make them substantial, namely head females Melissa Fumero as Detective Amy Santiago and Stephanie Beatriz as Detective Rosa Diaz. The pilot’s plotlines were rather weak, and I’d expect much more from the very funny Samberg and the people behind “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office.”

How will it work as a series? It’s possible that this show might still turn out to be one of the better new comedies of the season, and it could just take some time for it to find its groove, to toss aside sillier, more outrageous storylines in favor of genuinely compelling characters and humor. I’m willing to give it a few more installments before I decide if it’s worth committing.
How long will it last? Ratings for the pilot weren’t spectacular, but FOX seems determined to make its Tuesday night comedy block work, and this would be a perfect addition. Reviews for this show were much more favorable than for its lead-in, “Dads,” and I think FOX will choose to endorse this show, renewing it if sooner if none of its dramatic offerings stick.

Pilot grade: B-

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