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Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review: The Network Has Changed But The Comedy Hasn’t

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 6 Poster NBC

 

It looks as though a brief cancellation has done nothing to dim the lighthearted spirits of the 99th Precinct, as NBC welcomes Brooklyn Nine-Nine into its lineup. The shift from FOX to the Peacock network was one of the more interesting television exchanges of last year, bringing the feel-good comedy from Dan Goor and Mike Schur to the network that also happens to broadcast The Good Place. And, unsurprisingly, the two comedies complement one another very well, offering a one-two punch of sweet-natured laughs that suggest NBCUniversal should have shopped Nine-Nine to its own network from the get-go. 

But the show’s return for season 6 is about more than its move to a new network. Season 5 ended on a wildly happy note with Jake (Andy Samberg) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) finally getting married in a ceremony officiated by Jake’s surrogate father figure, Capt. Holt (Andre Braugher), but it also left viewers in the lurch with regard to Holt’s candidacy for NYPD Commissioner. And in a move that sets up a funny, almost game-changing premiere, Brooklyn Nine-Nine wastes no time in letting everyone know that Raymond Holt will not be the new commissioner. 

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Of course, what kind of comedy would Brooklyn Nine-Nine be if it didn’t first tease Holt successfully achieving his goal, only to pull the carpet out from under his expressionless face due to a hasty misreading of an email in a cop bar? The brief misunderstanding makes for some comedy gold, as Jake, ever eager to start a celebration with some “noice” jams misses out on Holt realizing his mistake and ends up prolonging the agony of defeat with an ill-advised observance of the promotion that will not be. It’s painful to watch, but only inasmuch as Jake inadvertently makes a fool of himself in a show of support for his should-have-been dad, as well as for Holt’s clear disappointment in his inability to achieve his dream. 

Melissa Fumero and Andy Samberg in Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 6 NBC

What sets Brooklyn Nine-Nine apart from so many other sitcoms (and puts it in league with The Good Place) is the way in which it finds humor in a character’s disappointment or failure without making their shortcomings the point of the joke. As per usual, Braugher is the series’ MVP, as a depressed Holt crashes Jake and Amy’s honeymoon and makes for a string of hilarious encounters in which he deadpans his way into being a delightfully funny third wheel. And to its credit, the show balances Jake and Amy’s desire to help the man they respect in his time of need with their desire to have a romantic honeymoon together. 

The result is some fine comedic writing and more than a few visual gags, one of which includes some role-playing by the newlyweds that shows Fumero can definitely pull off the Holly Gennaro McClane look in a surprisingly authentic Bonnie Bedelia wig. But mainly, the couple’s hijacked honeymoon shows how well Brooklyn Nine-Nine knows its characters, and why the direction in which they’re headed actually means so much.

On the one hand, sad-sack Holt is shaken from his not-going-to-be-the-commissioner blues after he’s on the receiving end of a stern talking to from his biggest supporter: Amy. The effect is two-fold: it gives Holt a clear path to follow now that he won’t be leaving the precinct anytime soon. But it’s one that doesn’t sweep his effort to become commissioner under the rug. Holt’s overwhelming disappointment and near total disillusionment in his chosen profession and the NYPD itself turns him into an unlikely crusader for the causes in which he believes, as well as a potent critic of those who are his superiors. It’s a role to which Holt is well suited, as his newfound devil-may-care attitude doesn’t eschew the character’s hilariously rigid personality.

Melissa Fumero in Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 6 NBC

At the same time, Amy’s admonishment of Holt not only pulls him from the depths of self pity, but it demonstrates the united front she has with Jake. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has gone to such great lengths to demonstrate Amy’s nearly sycophantic fawning over Holt that seeing her chastise him for his behavior (even if it’s really just a bit of tough love) is a big step forward for both characters. Furthermore, it proves once again that the show made the right choice in bringing Jake and Amy together, offering a solid example that television shows can move their characters past a prolonged will-they-or-won’t-they question without seeing a dip in quality. If anything, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is improved by its depiction of a functional marriage, one where the couple’s relationship is built on a foundation of mutual respect. 

As far as season premieres go, ‘Honeymoon’ delivers more than proof of what everyone already knew: Brooklyn Nine-Nine shouldn’t have been canceled, but it’s kind of a good thing that it was. The show fits in perfectly with NBC’s Thursday-night lineup, where hopefully it will remain for several seasons yet to come, because the series is showing no signs of slowing down. 

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine continues next Thursday with ‘Hitchcock & Scully’ @9pm on NBC. 

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