100 Pilots in 100 Days: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

When it was originally on: 2013-present

Original network: Fox (moved to NBC in 2019)

Where you can stream it now: Hulu

Had I seen it before: I don’t think I’d ever seen a full episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine which is kind of surprising given how much I like Michael Schur’s other shows. I’ve definitely seen clips in my internet wanderings so far.

What IMDb says: Jake Peralta, an immature, but talented N.Y.P.D. detective in Brooklyn’s 99th Precinct, comes into immediate conflict with his new commanding officer, the serious and stern Captain Ray Holt.

Why I picked it: Michael Schur is one of my all-time favorite showrunners, and actually had three shows to make The List (the others being Parks and Recreation and The Good Place . Brooklyn Nine-Nine is unique in that it’s my only chance to write about a Michael Schur pilot when I have little prior knowledge of the show.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine also presents yet another opportunity to look at more dramatic genres through a more comedic lens. Medical dramas have Scrubs. Courtroom dramas have Night Court. And cop dramas have Brooklyn Nine-Nine (okay, there’s also Barney Miller but that pilot was less accessible.)

What I liked: This one does a good job of introducing a lot of different types of personalities that can easily clash with one another. It also has a very similar energy to Parks and Recreation in that everyone seems so comfortable in their own skin. This is in stark contrast to a lot of the earliest grown-up sitcoms I saw. In shows like like Seinfeld, a fair amount of the story is based on lies and deceit and people pretending to be something they’re not. So the notion that a lot of different types of humans can be represented without anyone feeling bad about who they are always helped Parks and Recreation to be as charming as it is.

The pilot for Brooklyn Nine-Nine gave me high hopes that this show can have that same energy. Jake is immature, and he’s cool with it. Terry just wants to be a pencil pusher, but he’s cool with it. Captain Holt is strict, and cool with it. Rosa may come off as tough and abrasive to others but guess what? She’s cool with it. The show is incredibly well cast, and the all these characters have tons of room for conflict without any of them being villains.

I was also pleasantly surprised at how Brooklyn Nine-Nine maintains its relatively light tone even when working on a murder case. Sometimes one of the biggest challenges of a comedy pilot is the actually-being-funny part, but this was never an issue here. Largely because we DON’T spend a ton of time dwelling on the victim or their family, and also because they do ultimately apprehend the murderer in the end, I didn’t feel like the show was being inhumane in its jokes.

What I didn’t like: Amy didn’t quite pop for me the way the other characters did. I mean, she’s fine. I don’t dislike her. But I feel like she didn’t really get quite as many opportunities to be funny as everyone else, and thus far, her personality doesn’t seem to be much more than rolling her eyes at Jake. We are told that because Amy grew up with a lot of brothers, she feels a constant need to prove how tough she is. That’s fine, but I don’t really think this personality trait would’ve come across organically if not for Terry straight up telling us about it.

This is different from Jake and Captain Holt. Jake is immature so we watch him be immature. Captain Hold is strict and so we watch him being strict. Both of these personalities are brought to the forefront when the two dispute whether or not Jake should have to wear a tie to work. With Rosa and Charles, we learn about both of their personalities from a B-plot about Charles asking Rosa out and how she handles it. Amy gets no such subplot and so we don’t really get to see Amy being Amy, we just get another detective who works here who’s perfectly nice and competent, but not very interesting.

Now, it wouldn’t too hard to fix this within the first 3-5 episodes. Just give us one episode with a more Amy-centric plot and we’re probably gonna get there. It’s just the only thing I really wish had been stronger and could’ve easily been stronger without weakening other aspects of the pilot.

Do I want to watch Ep. 2: Yes! I’ve heard such good things about Brooklyn Nine-Nine but had also heard it got off to a slow start. This pilot reassures me that whoever said that was probably exaggerating, and I also have faith in Michael Schur, so I’m sure it only gets better from here.

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