What’s that you say? A new show set in Brooklyn that isn’t about being in your twenties and _____? Sounds promising, but is it for real? Brooklyn Nine-Nine, from Parks and Rec and The Office writers and producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur, is another workplace comedy. This time, though, it’s Brooklyn-style. Well, kind of Brooklyn-style, but who cares when you’ve got Andy Samberg to charm the pants off everybody, including himself?
Brooklyn Nine-Nine premiered last night on Fox, right after Dads—umm, do anything else during those 22 minutes–and before third and second season premieres of faves New Girl and Mindy Project. I’ve been waiting for it ever since I spotted Samberg and Andre Braugher’s mugs on a billboard over Fulton St. at Bedford a couple months ago. They star as at-odds couple Detective Jake Peralta, who loves to goof around the office but still brings in the highest number of arrests in his beat, and new (openly-gay) police captain Ray Holt, who tries to whip the precinct into shape, mainly demanding that Peralta wear a tie and tone down the gags.
The cop-com, set in fictional Brooklyn precinct “99,” wasn’t actually filmed here, but combines a good mix of spot-on satirical nods to BK culture and realistic portrayals. This is no police parody, like Reno 911 or the Police Squad movies. Instead, Goor and Schur have stressed realism as a priority, citing classic 70’s NYC police sitcom Barney Miller as a major influence because of its depiction of day-to-day police work in the precinct.
The pilot’s central case concerns the murder of Henry Morgenthau, “luxury food importer,” over a $6,000 jamon iberico. This setup has Peralta and his associates hunting down the “perp” in a Carroll Gardens-esque pork store, where they rough it up among the artisanal products—at one point Detective Charles Boyle (played by Jo Lo Truglio of The State and Reno 911) yells “That’s a waste of manchego!” and later gets his face smashed in a tub of gelato. Other funny moments that also ring true for us are when Peralta and his partner Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) go door to door in the suspect’s apartment building, questioning a stoned, bearded and bespectacled, aka quintessential-looking Brooklyn dude in one, and a total weirdo played by Fred Armisen in another. Don’t miss the mock “F” letter grade on the wall in the precinct’s kitchen (thanks, @CoachadWI).
The producers have also assembled a diverse cast, with two Latina actresses and two Black actors, to achieve accurate representation, which is at 50% Caucasian to Non-Caucasian in the NYPD. Still, it doesn’t make itself completely beholden to Brooklyn realism. Unlike Bored to Death, whose exaggerated Brooklyn-y scenarios put its main characters in situations like investigating sperm stolen by a lesbian couple in Ditmas Park, or shooting vodka and dancing all night in Brighton Beach nightclub Tatiana, Nine-Nine opts for close-but-not-quite shout outs to Brooklyn. The murder perp, for example, is caught in a storage unit near “Boerum Park.” Still, the show being funny is more important than it being hyper-local, and it passes the laugh test easily.
That’s thanks in large part to a great ensemble cast. Besides Samberg and Lo Truglio, comedian Christina Peretti (Sarah Silverman Show, Tosh) consistently brings in laughs as Administrator Gina Linetti, and Stephanie Beatriz knows how to deliver deadpan-bitch as tough chick Detective Rosa Diaz. Terry Crews (Idiocracy‘s President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho) subverts his tough guy image to play a skittish new father of twins (Cagney and Lacey, another cop show Easter egg) desperate to stay out of harm’s way and on administrative leave.
You guys, we’re thinking this might be our new Tuesday night activity. Who wants to invite us over? We’ll bring the drinking game—we’re thinking a shot for every Brooklyn-lite reference, a la “Boerum Park.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Tuesdays at 8:30pm on Fox