Scratch Zach Braff for Andy Samberg, who plays Detective Jake Peralta, barely keeping one eye on the job when there are deadpan wisecracks to be made. He is easily distracted by office pranks such as “fire extinguisher roller chair derby” and the minutiae of Brooklyn’s police department. Hill Street Blues and Cagney and Lacey were never like this. Somehow he has a knack for solving cases despite himself and as the dimpled, man-child lynchpin of this comedy he’s pretty darn adorable.
Most of his colleagues, who tolerate his pranks and punchlines, are a cynical New York bunch, including uptight Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), the hapless Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), ‘tough guy’ Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), big softie Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) and self-absorbed office administrator Gina (Chelsea Peretti).
Veering from mishap to mishap, their world is rattled by the arrival of Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher), who is out to restore order in his first command. Holt is in no mood for mirth. But if sitcom casts are essentially families at heart, then his is a paternal role over a bunch of wayward teens.
The style of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is certainly zippy. Gags tumble over one another, there is no laugh track, nearly the whole thing is shot with hand-held cameras. There are also frequent cutaways and flashbacks not uncommon to shows like How I Met Your Mother that add both colour and context.
Amid the various workplace gags and clashing personalities, episodic crimes serve as B-stories but manage to be resolved in spite of themselves. This is well-cast with performers who can hit the comedy by Dan Goor & Michael Schur very well.
Whilst some diversity does emerge from characters and cast, it’s a little hard to see how such an American sitcom fits the brief of SBS. Maybe the fact that it won a Golden Globe for Comedy outweighed that consideration (it was a bit of a generous nod, I suspect).
If you’re into wry comedies like Parks and Recreation and Community -both of which are also screening on SBS- then you’ll like the beat of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs in double episodes from 9:30pm tonight on SBS ONE.