Last week, I set my DVR to record Fox’s newest police sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” starring Andy Samberg as an experiment.
Samberg is best known for his successful career on “Saturday Night Live,” where he became famous for creating over 100 “SNL” digital shorts, which were mainly music video-style skits that he conceived with his The Lonely Island writing partners Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaeffer.
Many of these amazing gems premiered on “SNL” but spread quickly due to their viral status online, and they are some of the most hilarious and well-made short films of the past decade. Undoubtedly, you’ve seen many of them or at least have unknowingly heard a fan reference them.
Getting back to the point, my interest in the show was not only to enjoy a few laughs on a Tuesday night but also to see whether Samberg could take his sarcastic, yet genuinely positive, sense of humor, spin it on a half-hour police sitcom, and pull it off.
After watching the pilot episode of the show three times, I’ll tell you right now that he was able to do all three of those things. The pilot was hilarious, and it satisfies every norm that arises in a show about police officers at work.
Michael Schur, who also developed two of my other favorite shows, “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” created “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Its production design is much like its two predecessors.
Take an ensemble cast, put them in a workplace, then shoot a show around the workplace using numerous cameras in a documentary style format, and you’ve got your premise.
Samberg plays detective Jake Peralta, a highly creative and inventive investigator with a childish and lackadaisical approach to the job.
The show begins as his unit’s commanding officer has retired and a new boss is coming onto the scene.
As you could imagine, the new captain is a stickler for the rules. Peralta immediately draws his ire by refusing to wear a tie or to even brief him on developments in the ongoing case.
Like other crime shows, each episode focuses on one particular crime that gets solved by the end of the show and features characters ranging from the no-nonsense female detective to the low-key banal everyman who is very good at details but lacks in his overall success in life.
I could spend time explaining the case in the first episode or explaining other characters in the unit, but it’s not really necessary.
What is important is that the show functions very well as a comedy, with hilariously witty lines and a very tight pacing, so that the show needs less of a plot arc. That method enables it to be more about laughs than the crimes in the background.
One of the best lines I’ve heard in a while comes from an encounter between the everyman I mentioned earlier, as he is trying to ask a fellow detective out to a movie.
Realizing he needs to pick a good movie, he suggests “Citizen Kane,” to which his hopeful date replies, “Pick a better movie.”
His classic reply as she drives off is “OK. I’ll pick a better movie than ‘Citizen Kane,’” the joke being that “Citizen Kane” is considered the greatest movie ever made.
So, my experiment ended, which you might not know was more about whether I needed to change my DVR’s series recordings to avoid “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” instead of seeing if Samberg could make me laugh.
Check out the show. If you’re a fan of Samberg’s, you’ll enjoy it.