Published Sep 30, 2015The latest in an increasingly long-line of workplace idiosyncrasy comedies, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, is the very embodiment of serviceable, competent entertainment. It's safe enough not to offend any particular piety while being abstract enough to appeal to those that might consider a safer comedy like, say, Melissa & Joey, too corny. This policing spoof is ostensibly the status quo of network comedy, juxtaposing extremist archetypal characters with each other and exploiting the awkwardness and hilarity of conflicting social etiquettes and levels of discernment. In short, it mocks dorks and oddballs while simultaneously pretending to understand their predicament.
The second season is pretty consistent with the trajectory of the first, reiterating the somewhat obnoxious, narcissistic antics of Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg), the self-deprecating insecurity of his wingman Charles (Joe Lo Truglio) and the type-A "Tracy Flick" schoolgirl pleas of Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero). Amy and Jake have a lame sidebar romance that lays dormant for most of the season while they date other people (Eva Longoria and Kyle Bornheimer, respectively), while Charles secretly bangs the unapologetically selfish office insult queen Gina (Chelsea Peretti). Meanwhile, their Captain (Andre Braugher) deals with an ongoing political battle with his superior (Kyra Sedgwick) while Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) struggles with entering the personal life of her superior after she starts porking his nephew.
Sadly, the "who's fucking who" dynamic is really the only indicator of plot progression beyond the obvious comedy staples involving a paintball competition, a police station obstacle course and a case that involves collaborating with the USPS. But, fortunately, the situational humour and basic dynamic of these characters when forced into strange situations helps propel the comedy.
Whether it's an impromptu dinner at the Captain's house or a stakeout assignment or a station-wide brainteaser challenge, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is at its best when everyone is thrown into an uncomfortable or unlikely situation and left to interact, argue and demonstrate their very different approach to things. Where it struggles is in the balancing of heart, injecting romantic angles with very little success. In fact, as the season progresses and the series becomes increasingly preoccupied with the pseudo-incestuous inter-office dating pool, things become far less enjoyable and far less amusing.
This is often the crux with the standard sitcom, as there's very little character complexity to explore without getting overly dark. Resultantly, writers tend to take demographic research polls seriously and try to emulate the broad life events occurring within their target viewership, which, in an impersonal sense, is coupling, breeding, buying houses and pretending it's all absolutely amazing. But, the thing about comedy is that it tends to be funnier when it steps a little bit outside of the box and shakes up the status quo a bit. This means that these well-worn heteronormative tropes get tired and occasionally drive an otherwise likeable series into the ground.
Perhaps, in future seasons, this harmless comedy will find creative ways to examine other facets of the human experience. But, as of the end of season two, it's starting to get a little middling.
Only a handful of deleted scenes are included with the DVD box set, mostly featuring Joe Lo Truglio hurting himself or doing something degrading.