TV: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Season 1)

March 28, 2014

If you’re looking for the show that could carry the torch for Parks & Recreation as a warm-hearted, intelligent comedy full of great characters, look no farther: Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a terrific new comedy on Fox that just wrapped its first season. It’s a winning and often hilarious sitcom, and while it’s got a few imperfections, it’s off to a running start.

Set in the detective squad of the fictional 99th precinct in Brooklyn, the show is a workplace comedy that thrives on the talents of its diverse cast. At the center of things is Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg), a rambunctious detective whose arrogance is mitigated by his cheerful, child-like enthusiasm. Peralta’s dominance of the squad is challenged when a new boss, Captain Raymond Holt (a hilariously  deadpan Andre Braugher), moves in. The cheerful friction between these two drives much of the humor, but there’s plenty of support. Jake has a flirty, profesional rivalry with awkward apple-polisher Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), a goofy best buddy in Charlie Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), and a childhood friend in the office sociopath, Gina Lanetti (Chelsey Peretti). Rounding out the crew is terrifying, tough-as-nails Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) and the quirky, muscular squad sergeant, Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews), who’s struggling mightily to balance a badass cop persona with a quiet domestic life and gentle inner nature.

The comedic pacing is lightning quick, and the entire ensemble is terrific. It’s also refreshingly sympathetic to its characters, who for all their friction genuinely like and admire each other; unlike many sitcoms, it’s doesn’t constantly cash in on personality-bashing. Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the show is that it made me like Andy Samberg, who plays Peralta with relentless energy and surprising charm – a weird mutant hybrid of Leslie Knope-ish enthusiasm and Andy Dwyeresque silliness.

There are a few missteps, particularly involving workplace romance – Boyle’s stalkery obsessiveness of Rosa , an obvious will-they-won’t-they thing with Jake and Amy – but so far those problems haven’t been too critical. By and large it’s an easy show to love, a great mix of smart writing and spot-on performances.

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