In my review for “Rookie Blue” I said it was hard to imagine a cop show any other way than as a serialized melodrama. Well folks, they actually came up with a new way to present it, in a style similar to “The Office”. To put it lightly, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is the farthest thing from melodrama. The aesthetics add a barely refreshing taste to the formulaic genre, but that’s all the show really has going for it so far. With jokes a plenty, especially by star Andy Samberg, it’s clear “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is trying to be a pure comedy cop show. Emphasis on “trying”.
“I am Detective Right-All-The-Time, and this is my partner, Detective Terrible Detective”
If you aren’t familiar with Samberg’s previous work, he’s known for his roles in sketch show “Saturday Night Live” and comedic rap group Lonely Island. He also co-stared in “That’s My Boy” with fellow comedian Adam Sandler. In other words, most, if not all of his work is comedy-based. Like “Brooklyn 9-9” itself, his character, Detective Jake Perlata also does not want to be taken seriously. Heck, he makes a joke out of new boss Capt. Ray Holt’s, (Andre Braugher) preference for ties by wearing it around his waist; not around his pants, his bare waist! Since Jake could get away with anything with his old boss, he thought he could make up for letting a murderer get away by presenting Holt with hazelnut ice-cream.
Clearly Samberg isn’t known for serious roles in his works, so it seems like this would be a great match for him. Samberg certainly suits a sketch-comedy style, but he is playing it safe in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” with his usual jokes and emphasis on loud articulation. Maybe it’s a stretch to say he’s playing it safe while he wears a multi-coloured speedo, but he’s done much edgier comedy. Since Samberg is so dominant, it’s difficult to get to know the other characters. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” also has secondary plot lines, but they feel empty and insignificant. There needs to be a greater balance in this show to showcase the other actors and their characters. Since “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is about a new boss arriving in a police department, all the other characters should be included.
Evidence from “The Office”
In terms of aesthetics, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” uses the handheld camera, observational mode. The style is similar to comedy shows like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation”. There is only one thing missing; commentary monologues from the characters. I’ll admit, I’ve just seen a few episodes of the two mentioned and shows like them, but the commentary provides a connection to the characters-which “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” lacks. When melodramas cut to a commercial break, it’s usually at a suspense building cliffhanger. Unfortunately, there is nothing to look forward to about “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” during the montage of advertisements.
On a positive note, however, using such a style for a cop show is unique. So kudos to “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” for trying something different. This is only the first episode after all, there is plenty of time for the show to improve. That said, don’t waste your time in Brooklyn to spend a night with Samberg-escape to a Lonely Island instead.