The current link in the The OfficeParks and Recreation daisy chain, Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows its spiritual predecessors in style, tone, and having a ton of the same folk working on it.

At the 99th precinct in Brooklyn, NYPD detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) goofs off, plays pranks and shares heartfelt moments all the while catching perps and being one of the best detectives in New York. All the while, he’s under the nose of the steely new captain Holt (Andrew Braugher) who aims to run a very tight ship.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine really is the spiritual continuation of Parks and Rec (which in itself, is very much the spiritual continuation of The Office). It’s a sweet show, as in saccharine but in a great way. It’s cheery and optimistic, more like Parks and Rec than The Office, which is frequently cynical and mean.

What will really win you over, though, is its eclectic cast and cast of characters. It skews toward sitcoms of a classic era in this aspect, having well-defined and contained characters, each of whom play their part, their part only, and their part well. This doesn’t mean that characters are without depth or growth.

A few are, just to keep the series grounded, and the rest generally stay within their early-defined boundaries while moving forward in a believable and pleasing way; those characters really are masterfully designed and performed.

And with the growing awareness of social and systemic issues facing American police institutions, the producers behind Brooklyn Nine-Nine had two options: ignore them, or address them. Bless them, they chose option number two, doing what they can to bring the issues – like racial profiling – forward as main plots for several episodes.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is uplifting, and it’s a smart comedy that enjoys being silly. So it’s got a heart and a brain, but thus far, four seasons in (starting its fifth next week), it doesn’t have much of a story (a skeleton?) to keep you glued. The Office had Michael’s quest for being accepted as a person, Jim and Pam’s relationship, Dwight’s odd but engaging personal life; Parks and Rec had the adorable romance between Leslie and Ben, Leslie’s run for higher and higher positions in office, Tom’s entrepreneurship – and for both, the list can go on. Brooklyn Nine-Nine lacks these large character and story arcs to keep viewers invested, aside from a rather dull romance and a typical surrogate father storyline. While this even further reflects the classic sitcom style, it makes it difficult for Brooklyn Nine-Nine to keep up with what viewers want these days. It’s still funny – and getting screamingly funnier – but that just doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.

Episodes to win you over: Season 1, Episode 15: Operation: Broken Feather; Season 3, Episode 10: Yippie Kayak; Season 4, Episode 16: Moo Moo

Categories: TV Show Review

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