x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Diving into TV’s newest favourite cop comedy – Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Ahead of the debut of the Golden Globe-winning series Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the UAE, we look at the stars and characters that keep the show ticking

A scene from Brooklyn Nine-Nine staring, from left, Joe Lo Truglio and Andy Samberg. Courtesy Fox
A scene from Brooklyn Nine-Nine staring, from left, Joe Lo Truglio and Andy Samberg. Courtesy Fox

Astute viewers over the age of 40 can’t help but grin when they recall the precinct-house laughs of Barney Miller, the legendary cop sitcom that ran on ABC from 1975 through 1982 – and now inspires the actor Andy Samberg’s new series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Both series finesse the trick of balancing the foibles of quirky detectives, suspects and witnesses – comedy miscreants constantly in each other’s faces – with the need to ground their personalities in believable reality so the audience truly cares about them.

That’s no easy bit of juggling, but Samberg’s comic talents – honed by early YouTube stardom, as a member of his troupe The Lonely Island and as a cast member of Saturday Night Live (2005-2012) – allow him to slip into the silly skin of Detective Jake Peralta in the fictional 99th precinct of the NYPD in Brooklyn.

The series, which was just renewed for a second season and debuts on OSN on Thursday, won this year’s Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, while Samberg scored his own trophy for Best Actor in the same category.

Credit goes to the series’ parentage. The creators, Dan Goor and Michael Schur, are the same minds who dreamed up Parks and Recreation and catapulted Samberg’s idol, Amy Poehler, into the sitcom stratosphere. Plus, the pilot was directed by the team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs).

It doesn’t get much better than that – and Samberg admits as much.

“It’s kind of like an updated Barney Miller, but with the same feel of Parks and Recreation,” he says. “Jacob Peralta is my best detective – the only puzzle he hasn’t solved is how to grow up,” says his squad leader, detective sergeant Terence “Terry” Jeffords (Terry Crews, The Expendables), who lost his nerve when he became a dad to two little girls, Cagney and Lacey, and fears not being around to see them grow up.

“This is the winning team. This is the best thing I’ve looked at in years,” says Crews.

As childish as he is talented at solving crimes, Samberg plays the class clown and prankster, often butting brows with the precinct’s strict new commanding officer, Captain Ray Holt – realised with a cold, clipped, robotic authority by Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age).

Holt is a stickler for rules and regulations, two notions that have long eluded his undisciplined gaggle of detectives who compete with each other, annoy each other, gossip and flirt – but who still have each other’s backs at the end of the day.

Jake’s most dogged competitor is the precinct’s honorary straight arrow, his Cuban-American partner detective Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), whose scrappy style comes from growing up with seven brothers.

Also working cases in Brooklyn’s 99th: the dim but hardworking detective Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio, Wreck-It Ralph, Superbad), who worships Jake; the opinionated, sexy and scary detective Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz, Modern Family, The Closer); and born meddler and office manager Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti, Parks and Recreation).

Comedy stars also pop up regularly with memorable cameos – such as Samberg’s SNL pal Fred Armisen who delivers a real zinger – during a door-to-door search.

“Doing door duty of knocking on people’s doors is a real and common aspect of these officers’ jobs,” says Schur. “It seemed like a fun way of grabbing funny people and just having them show up.”

Ultimately, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a workplace comedy with a twist of The Office and a dash of The Wire, as the men and women behind the badge bust perps and sing karaoke.

“Jake’s like McNulty from The Wire, except, instead of drinking problems and philandering, he’s being a jackass,” adds Samberg, whose character makes it clear from the cold opening that yes, he can joke, but first and foremost – he solves crimes.

• Brooklyn Nine-Nine will be broadcast at 8.30pm on March 13 on OSN First Comedy HD

artslife@thenational.ae

Laughing at the “fuzz” is a film and TV tradition. Memorable police comedies of the past include

• Car 54, Where Are You? – An “odd couple” called Gunther (Joe E Ross) and Francis (Fred Gwynne of, later, The Munsters fame) patrol the Bronx. (NBC, 1961-1963)

• The Naked Gun – Based on the short-lived TV series Police Squad (ABC, 1982) that was cancelled way too soon, Leslie Nielsen’s comic genius with sight gags, wordplay and non sequiturs spun a wildly successful movie franchise. (1988)

• The Andy Griffith Show – With Andy as the bumbling, gosh-shucks sheriff of Mayberry, Ron Howard as his curious son Opie and goggle-eyed Don Knotts as his deputy, this series was as tasty as a North Carolina sweet potato. (CBS, 1960-1968)

• Beverly Hills Cop – As street-smart, yappy Detroit cop Axel Foley, Eddie Murphy heads to Hollywood to rattle everybody silly as he solves his best friend’s murder. This movie catapulted the saucy SNL star to international stardom. (1984)

• Barney Miller – Hal Linden, as the titular precinct captain, magnificently tries to retain his sanity amid oddball cops in NYC’s Greenwich Village. (ABC, 1975-1982)

• Bonkers – In this animated series, cartoon star Bonkers D Bobcat, washed out of show business, becomes a Hollywood cop. (Disney/Syndication, 1993-1995)

• Fish Police – If you want to compete with The Simpsons, don’t do it with gilled cartoon cops with names like Biscotti Calamari, Sharkster, Mussels Marinara and Chief Abalone; ratings sank fast and the show was promptly axed. (CBS, 1992)

• Reno 911! – Set in Nevada, this mockumentary-style send-up of Cops brought top-notch improv comedy to the genre. (Comedy Central, 2003-2009)

• Hot Fuzz – The Shaun of the Dead duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost star as two cliché-ridden cops, out to solve mysterious deaths in an English village. (2007)

• Turner & Hooch – Tom Hanks plays detective Turner. But it’s Beasley, the slobbery “Dogue de Bordeaux”, who plays Hooch and steals all the laughs. (1989)

• Cop Rock – Not intended as a comedy, but viewers howled as cops broke into song, Broadway-style, in this fusion of police procedural and musical theatre. TV Guide calls this “the single most bizarre TV musical of all time”. (1990)

* Greg Kennedy