Recurring Cast: Andy Samberg, Melissa Fumero, Terry Crews, Stephanie Beatriz, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti and Andre Braugher
Silly isn’t the same as stupid. It is an important lesson to remember when reviewing comedy.
Last time, we saw Jake Peralta he was sent on an undercover ops to infiltrate several mafia gangs, in an attempt to detain several of them in one fell swoop. After a year away, he returns to the force and things are pretty much just how he left them. An excuse to keep the ball rolling then, but I will pardon the ‘cop’ out, if you pardon that pun. It works, because we loved exactly what they did with the show last time, but the smaller changes are introduced that makes the experience feel a little bit more varied. For example, Jake confessed his love for Santiago at the end of the last season, but unsure of how to go about his return and working with Amy again, he pretends it was a spur of the moment statement, before he went away on a dangerous mission. Of course, the underlying sexual tension remains, which is exacerbated by some amusing stories about Jake dating a defence lawyer and working with Amy to win over his high school sweetheart. It is an obvious story to go down, but one that keeps a lot of the chemistry buzzing in the cast. The big plotline for this season is the arrival of Holt’s old nemesis, Wuntch, a Deputy Commissioner who was scorned by Holt in their early careers, decides to make it her mission to ruin Holt’s career. It provides a lot of the big laughs (their wars often contain throwing each other off balance with purposeful grammar and punctuation mistakes on their reports), as well as opening up Andre Braugher’s character. Then there are the other smaller side-plots that keep Brooklyn Nine Nine from feeling like it is going through the motions. Charles and Gina hide their affair from their co-workers, accidentally sparking up a potentially new catastrophic relationship. Rosa starts dating. A new drug hits the streets. These stories are small additions to the show, but they help it feel more structured than the last season.
When it comes to the comedy of the show, it is hard to say anything I haven’t said last season. It all works, able to find a tone of laughter that is easy to relate to. Sometimes the best gags aren’t the hilarious set-pieces, but the banter in between the characters. Brooklyn Nine Nine’s character roster were surprisingly easy to fall in love with, so the writers do the smart thing and continue to use that as their secret weapon. We just want to see a story where Terry and Gina bounce off of each other, a mission where Amy is paired with Rosa – each pairing has its own dynamic and style of jokes, which are fun to dissect and explore. It seems that there is no limit to the amount of jokes the show has up its sleeve, which means when Season Two rocks to an end and suggests that a third season is around the corner, we have more faith than we expect to, because there have been no signs of anything running out of steam. There are slight lulls in the jokes. Sometimes, one arrives at the wrong moment. It is painfully obvious when an episode isn’t sure on the final laugh of the episode and there are a few moments, when it has gone with a chuckle, rather than something more. Yes, all the jokes are funny, but much like Ted 2’s problem, some are told in the wrong place or format. Other jokes are much cleverer. Take the gay jokes in the show. One of the more progressive elements in Brooklyn Nine Nine is the fact that their captain, Holt, is a gay police captain, but the show never divulges itself into any form of common, childish humour, even if the show hints that it is that kind of show. Many of the gay jokes are aimed at the 70s police force that Holt grew up in and how sily it was for them to hold back on it. The writer’s maturity holds faith that we can now have this kind of sitcom on the air, without worrying that every gay character that steps onto the show will have to conform to a childish stereotype.
The main reason I love Brooklyn Nine Nine’s second season is simply the fact its characters feel more established. The truth is there is nothing dramatic or OSCAR-worthy about any of the narrative elements on display here. For example, Andre Braugher has been nominated for a few Supporting Actor in a television show awards – do I think he should win them? Probably not. While I cannot fault his performance and he is given a heart-wrenching speech to send the season off with, this isn’t the kind of show that needs this kind of drama. The character development works its way to you through the background of the show. Sometimes it hits you with a single sentence, when you least expect it. An episode with a wedding is having a great combo of laughs and then suddenly it turns around with a single phrase and totally unlocks Rosa’s character. She isn’t even the emphasis of the episode; she was just hovering in the background, providing her usual style of dry humour. And then suddenly, that one line hits you. It is a surprisingly emotional moment and something no one expected. The show doesn’t even really take too much time to explore this, because it isn’t needed. We have begun to see a new side to Rosa and as a result, that entire episode (and after Friends overdid them, I really have a disdain for wedding episodes in sitcoms), feels more prominent that we expected it to. This is probably the best example, but there are plenty more. Yes, it is obvious writing, but who doesn’t love the small ‘will-they-won’t-they?’ glances from Jake and Amy? One episode ends with a small gesture that confirms how we assumed one character feels about the other. We all saw it coming, but the pay-off works anyway. This works as a replacement for the final joke of the episode – sometimes, I prefer that to a gag. Remember, Brooklyn Nine Nine might be a silly show, but that doesn’t make it a stupid one.
Final Verdict: Brooklyn Nine Nine doesn’t bother reworking a great formula, although it does fine-tune the edges and characters making the second season feel a lot more confident.