Brooklyn Nine-Nine (premiers at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 17) isn’t the first time writer-producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur have brought a Saturday Night Live Star to prime time. They were the force behind the Amy Poehler vehicle Parks and Recreation which went from a very awkward start to – this will give you benchmark for this review – my favorite show on television.
Andy Samberg vehicle Nine-Nine gets off to a much better start than Parks and Rec, reintroducing the concept of the half-hour cop sitcom; how Barney Miller.
Samberg starts the show in very familiar SNL Digital Short territory, trying to be much cooler than he actually is, reciting a monologue from Donnie Brasco into video cameras at an electronics store/crime scene; which probably means he really is cool, which … well … it’s a cycle, or circle, or something like that.
Anyway, that the brief title music is reminiscent of the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage, which had the epic ‘70s cop show video, telegraphs that this will be a police show with respect, but tongue firmly in cheek.
Samberg is Det. Jake Peralta, a man-child who happens to be the best crime solver in his Brooklyn precinct. As the show opens, the precinct is assigned a new commander, straight-laced Capt. Ray Holt (Andre Braugher), who is determined to have the best shop in the police force.
Peralta and Holt instantly clash, though by the end of the first episode, they have reached a certain understanding, and it’s hard to discern how much the culture clash will feed the storyline. What does seem to be ripe here are breakout opportunities in the supporting cast a la P&R’s Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson, Aubrey Plaza as April and Aziz Ansari as Tom – just a few of the comedians who have seen their stars rise since the series premiere.
Contenders that emerge are Joe Lo Truglio as a hapless detective determined to pursue Stephanie Beatriz, one of his colleagues, and even Braugher, who excels playing the type of character he’s played before on shows like Homicide: Life on the Street, but under very different circumstances. Holt has something to prove, which gets us behind him, as much as we want Samberg to have a hit series. The two have a relationship similar to P&R’s Leslie Knope (Poehler) and Ron, in that they are strong, opposite personalities who will need to develop mutual respect to work together.
Like Parks and Rec, it’s sort of hard to see how Brooklyn Nine-Nine will play out in the long term. But judging by the first episode, it will be worth watching.