September 25, 2013

THE SKED Pilot + 1 Review: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”



A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on BROOKLYN NINE-NINE:  Fun and games in a Brooklyn police precinct.  Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) is the ace detective who solves crimes but is happily slovenly about everything else in his life.  Now he has to deal with a new boss, Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher), who’s the epitome of by-the-book.  The precinct house also features Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), Jake’s main competitor on the squad; dim bulb Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio); Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), the tough detective Boyle not-so-secretly adores; married Sergeant Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews); and civilian administrator Gina (Chelsea Peretti).

Episode 2:  So far, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a lot more interested in gags than its characters, a bit of a surprise from creators Michael Schur and Dan Goor, who both hail from Parks & Recreation.  The second episode, written by Consulting Producer Norm Hiscock and directed by Craig Zisk, has Peralta, under pressure from Captain Holt to start following the rules and do his paperwork properly, finding himself arresting a tagger who draws penises on squad cars, which turns out to be a clue to the fact that he’s a Deputy Commissioner’s son.  Peralta has to decide whether to let the kid slide or do the right thing, and–what a shock–he finally places the little stinker under arrest, earning a tinge of respect from Holt.  Meanwhile, the B story centers on Boyle, who’s told by a medium friend of Gina’s that the woman he loves will never love him back, making him miserable once he decides she does have the gift (even though she said drugs would be found somewhere blue and yellow, Gina convinces him that green counts because it mixes the two colors), until Diaz tells him we all make our own destinies.

There were a few laughs here, especially when Peralta showed off his nifty perfectly compiled report in the tagger case (he’d spent an hour on the fonts, and it even included an “About the Author” section with a photo on the back cover), and the chemistry between Samberg and Braugher is fun.  There’s not much of an ensemble feel to the show, though, which is clearly the two of them and then everybody else–there’s barely a hair of difference between tough detective Santiago and tough detective Diaz.  Any romantic sparks between Peralta and Santiago are gone for now, which leaves no storytelling about the characters interacting, unless you count Boyle’s crush on Diaz.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a pleasant enough show, and it certainly outclasses its lead-in Dads by a mile, but it doesn’t feel distinctive.  For the most part, Samberg is still playing Peralta like a sketch comic (and gags like him camping out in the squad room so he won’t be late in the morning support that approach), and Braugher is the only one who seems grounded in any kind of reality.  It famously took Parks & Recreation its first season to find its voice, of course, and hopes are high that Brooklyn will too.  It started well in the ratings with a 2.6 (better than last night’s debut of Mom on CBS, although last week it faced only pre-season competition), and if those numbers hold up, it should have time to decide what kind of show it’s going to be.


PILOT + 1:  A Work In Progress


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."