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Arts and Entertainment

Fall TV Preview: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' is an Arresting Comedy

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine debuts on FOX tonight and it just might be the fall season’s best sitcom offering. (We’ve watched the pilot, and while we know that seasons are long, the show has a lot of things going for it.) Set in a Brooklyn precinct, the show is an ensemble workplace comedy that’s a mix between The Office and Police Academy with one big exception—these cops are actually, somehow, competent.

Former Saturday Night Live player Andy Samberg stars as the goofy, wise-cracking, yet talented police detective Jake Peralta. He’s joined at the precinct with a number of characters: girl scout detective Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumer), who's in competition with Peralta for the most case closures; Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) has lost his edge after having twin girls—Cagney and Lacey—and would rather be a desk jockey than risk not seeing them grow up. Det. Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) is the precinct’s workhorse who tries really really hard at policing—and at trying to woo tough Det. Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz). The office’s nosy Nellie is Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti), the civilian office manager.

While Samberg gets top billing, we think that the show’s ace in the hole might be Andre Braugher as the new, no-nonsense commanding officer Ray Holt. His tough, straight-laced cop stands out against all the zaniness, but then again, we’ve seen (and loved) that tough cop before as Braugher worked on one of our favorite police dramas, Homicide: Life on the Street.

It’s the Samberg-Braugher dynamic that’s really fun to watch and will be one of the keys to the show’s success and longevity.

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During a recent conference call, Samberg was asked what it was like playing against a foil like Braugher. “As an actor, I am completely in awe of him,” said Samberg. “This is like a Juilliard-trained, Shakespeare in the Park heavy. He knows exactly how to play drama and has so much experience in that regard. So I’m learning from him every day watching how he approaches things.

“I feel like our characters play perfectly into our experience leading up to this point. He’s able to ground scenes and let me sort of act like a maniac all around him like a yipping little dog in a way that has, so far, been really funny. And I think there is no doubt about the fact that he understands comedy wholly and gets the timing of it.

“I think he is awesome.”

Another thing that Brooklyn Nine-Nine has going for it is the track record of the show’s creators and executive producers. Dan Goor (writer for Parks and Recreation, Late Night with Conan O'Brien) and Michael Schur (writer for Parks and Recreation and The Office). Schur’s also pretty recognizable as Dwight’s cousin Mose on The Office.

When Schur and Goor were brainstorming show concepts, they realized there hadn’t been a half-hour sitcom about cops in a while. “We were both fans of Barney Miller,” Schur said during the conference call. “And just the more we talked about it, the more it seemed like something that, at least in the half-hour network comedy world, was at least somewhat unexplored territory.”

While we’ll never want these cops to come to our aid in a crisis—Samberg said he said he probably knows how to fake about 30 seconds of actual police procedure, we’ll definitely dial the 911 on Brooklyn Nine-Nine when we’re in need of a laugh.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine premieres tonight on FOX at 8:30 pm.

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