Arts & Life, Movies

Navigating Netflix: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

About once a year, Comedy Central conducts a roast of a celebrity. There are a few faces that pop up repeatedly on each edition but they try to get in new blood, and as many that are friends with the roastee as possible. They range in quality from hilarious to horrible, depending on how many people from The Jersey Shore are pretending to be stand-up comedians. On a recent roast of James Franco, Andy Samberg got up and did a very funny routine. The other roasters mocked him thoroughly for what was then his upcoming series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, because of how unoriginal and safe it seemed.

After Golden Globe wins for Samberg for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy and for the show itself for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has proven its early detractors wrong and all with only one season in the can.

Who’s laughing now?

While Andy Samberg, as Detective Jake Peralta, is the star of the show, this is truly an ensemble cast. Andre Braugher, a veteran of police procedurals like Homicide: Life on the Street, is key to this series as Captain Ray Holt. The friction between Peralta and Holt seems stereotypical on paper but the way the two actors play it isn’t. They are adversaries, peers, friends, and family rolled into one absurd relationship, tormenting each other in an endless cycle of weird confrontations.

And then there’s Terry Crews. He is, as always, impressive and funny. While he had a number of credits before this, the NFL pro turned actor made a name for himself on the popular sitcom Everybody Hates Chris and a several comedy movies. But you might know him best from his insane campaign of Old Spice commercials that featured him flexing and yelling a lot. He plays the Sergeant who’s afraid of the field, the man who leads the team. It’s a team than consists of Joe Lo, Melissa Fumero, Stephanie Beatriz, Chelsea Peretti, and a cast of guest stars that ranges from Patton Oswalt to Marilu Henner to a very random appearance by Adam Sandler as himself.

What makes this show work is taking the mundane sitcom premise of “funny cops”, mixing it up with great writing, and assembling an ensemble cast that found their rhythm surprisingly fast. And the producers know what they’re doing in this regard as they were also behind the American version of The Office and Parks and Rec.

It’s a rarity for a show in its freshman season to come out swinging this hard. Given its early success and surprising quality, it was great for the Golden Globes to acknowledge it. And it was equally disappointing to see the series get passed over for 2014 Emmy nominations in virtually all categories, though Andre Braugher’s Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series nomination is well deserved. Unfortunately, he’ll probably lose out to one of the actors nominated in that category from Modern Family, a safe Emmy favourite and far less funny series.

At the moment, there is only one season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the bag with season two on the way this fall. If you haven’t watched it yet, catch up on season one on Netflix and get ready for a season two that will hopefully live up to expectations.