First Watch: Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

Andy Samberg, this generation’s SNL golden boy, has moved on from SNL to sitcoms. Samberg is the charming and immature Detective Jake Peralta in Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

A monologue from Donnie Brasco are the first words out of Jake Peralta’s mouth, while his partner, Detective Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), attempts to do some actual police work and solve a robbery. Peralta is, of course, screwing around. As it turns out, Peralta isn’t a complete moron because he showed up five minutes earlier than Santiago and solved the case.

Back at the station, we meet Sergeant Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews), who informs his squad the precinct is getting a new Captain, Ray Holt (Andre Braugher), who is likely to crack down and enforce regulations. Just as Peralta begins the worst imitation of a robot (and the new Captain) we’ve ever seen, Captain Holt appears from behind. Holt doesn’t just force Peralta to finish the impression, but informs him it was the worst robot impression ever. Adding insult to injury (or injury to insult, I’m not sure which), Holt orders Peralta to follow dress code and wear a tie. In his small act of rebellion, Peralta chooses to defy the lone requirement to prove… something.

Holt calls Jeffords into his office for one of the easiest character rundowns of all time. Jeffords begins with his own demons in a flashback: once a street detective, Jeffords “lost his edge” when he had two daughters (Cagney and Lacey) and became afraid of getting hurt. Next he segregates the detectives under his command into two groups: the worthless, a few extras that can make a damn good cup of coffee, and the worthy — Peralta, Santiago, and Rosie Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz). Diaz is a parody of the stereotypical tough cop, exaggerated to frightening levels of intimidating. Despite her frightening personality, Detective Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), the nervous one, has developed a crush on Diaz. Peralta and Santiago have a bet: if Santiago can collar the most criminals, she wins Peralta’s classic Mustang, but if Peralta wins, Santiago must agree to a date with him.

After the robbery, the squad gets a murder call. I don’t know many big city detectives (out of the plethora of big city detectives I know) who handle both robberies and homicide, but the Brooklyn Nine-Nine does. This murder (as I’m sure every other murder on this show will be) is ridiculous: someone killed someone for ham. Meat is, in this case, murder. The case doesn’t matter, It’s a vehicle for character development, action, and comedy.

I went into Brooklyn Nine-Nine believing I was going to watch a comedy about cops. Instead, I’ve been presented with a loose parody of a police procedural; a pastiche which celebrates the buddy cop motif as well as it mocks it. My biggest gripe with the pilot was the lack of Samberg’s signature charm — instead we got a full helping of Shawn Spencer.

Overall, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has charming, often funny, dialog. The acting is strong and comedic and it focuses on the jokes and relationships more than any type of short-term plot. I look forward to another episode and hope it survives this Fall.

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