Email Roundtable #45 – Summer Secret Santa, Brooklyn Nine-Nine


This week on the roundtable, we start our first round of TV Secret Santa. Katie had Jane and gave her Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Here’s a recap, from last week’s roundtable, as to the reasoning why Katie made this choice:

What show did you pick for Jane to watch? Brooklyn Nine-Nine, FOX (available on Netflix)

Why did you make that choice? I asked Jane if she wanted a comedy or drama, and she requested comedy. I asked if she wanted meatier or fluffier, and she said meatier, but in truth, I didn’t have a meaty comedy on hand that she hadn’t already seen. I chose Brooklyn Nine-Nine because Jane and I have similar tastes in network comedies and I wanted to discuss a show that we hadn’t already talked extensively about on the blog. (Nixed choices that I’m sure Jane would’ve enjoyed were New Girl, Broad City, Kroll Show and Family Tree)

What do you think Jane will like about the show? Based on Jane’s love of Community, I know she will appreciate the group dynamic of the show. Brooklyn Nine-Nine features a rag-tag group of police officers that work out of the same precinct. There are a number of great running gags, hilarious flashbacks, and excellent slapstick. Humour is a tricky thing to predict, but I hope that she will find the fast paced, wacky mood of the show charming, and not altogether off-putting.

What do you think Jane might not like so much? I wonder whether Jane will like Andy Samberg as Detective Jake Peralta. He is certainly an annoying character, but I find him quite funny. Like a little brother… sometimes funny… often annoying… Additionally, I know Jane loves a good character piece, and while Brooklyn Nine-Nine does a lot of good character work, after only one season, a lot of the characters still need some filling out.

Katie: So Jane, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. In one word, how would you describe your viewing experience?

Jane: Gut-busting. Does that count as one? If not I will go with rollicking. Now I want to hear yours!

Katie: Heartening!

So is it fair to say that you enjoyed the show?

Jane: I didn’t think I would love it as much as I did. I love a show that surprises me and Brooklyn Nine-Nine is constantly surprising. At first I thought the show was going to be a one note send up of cop shows with over-the-top characters but it is so much more. Although they are wacky in their own ways the entire ensemble have dimension and heart. As the season progresses the show reveals the subtle ways that these people care about each other and I loved that. I think my favorite example is Detective Diaz. She was my least favorite character in the beginning. I thought she was a one note character who was mad all the time but slowly the show reveals that she is insecure and nervous and that’s why she puts up the angry front. The scene where Boyle is coaching her how to behave in front of the jury was hilarious and heart warming. I also loved the scene where she was hurt that Boyle didn’t invite her to his wedding. Who is your favorite character on the show?

Katie: My favourite character was Captain Holt. His dry delivery cracked me up every time. And I loved that his husband called him the “hilarious” one of the group.

I, too, didn’t think that I would love the show either. There were a few dud episodes here and there (that’s to be expected in a 22-episode season) but overall, I thought the show was extremely well done. ESPECIALLY considering this was it’s first season. Even the pilot episode was great. It dove right in to their world on the force.

Do you have a favourite episode?

Jane: I also love the variety of hard to read expressions that Andre Braugher (as Holt) is able to transform his face into.

My very favorite episode was the party at Holt’s house. It was nice to see the team in a different environment and out of their elements. There was just so much to love about that episode. I loved how Holt’s partner was the dull one in the relationship. I assumed before the character was introduced that he would be flamboyant and stereotypical as a counterpoint to Holt but he is just as stuffy as Holt (just less funny). I loved how Jeffords acted as the parent of the group and tried to coach them on proper behavior so they would fit in. My favorite line of the episode came from him, “Don’t move in a group we are not Gazelles.” I loved how Santiago was taking pictures of Holt’s cupboard contents so she could strike up conversations with him later. That’s a relationship I really appreciate on the show. She is truly in love with her boss but not at all in a romantic way. She is in love with admiration for him as a person. It’s such a cool dynamic to watch.

Do you have a favorite?

Katie: In addition to the quality character work, there are a ton of funny one-liners every episode. (The gazelle comment made me think of that.)

I loved the Halloween episode. Loved the heist element. Loved the suspense (will Peralta outfox the Captain?) Loved how no one understood Boyle’s Mario Batali costume (“what are you, Dumpy Ron Weasley?”) Plus, the gang worked together to prank the Captain, and teamwork is always enjoyable to watch.

Changing subjects, one of my favourite elements of the show is the use of flashbacks. They use them soooo much, and mostly for comic effect. Terry’s “department store incident” springs to mind. Thoughts on the style of Brooklyn Nine-Nine?

Jane: Yes, it is one of the few sitcoms that can pull off flashbacks. They are integrated cleverly. What I love about the shows style is how it is able to  to build on things that are hilarious and turn them into heartfelt situations. Boyle’s love of food is sprinkled into every episode in ridiculous ways (his choice for an eye watering-ly spicy wedding cake) so it only makes sense when Vivian breaks his heart; all he can bring himself to eat is a sack of hard-boiled eggs. Santiago and Peralta’s obvious attraction to each other produces many funny moments on the show. When Santiago loses a bet and has to go out on a date with Peralta, Peralta chooses a hilariously gaudy puffy blue dress for her to wear. In a flashback later in the season we see Peralta at his bar mitzvah getting cruelly rejected by a girl in the same blue dress.

I’m curious about your thoughts on the end of the show. How do you think the show will change with Peralta segregated from the group?

Katie: I’m really excited for season two for that reason! I think Peralta as a fish-out-of-water will be a great plot device. He’s basically the king of the office in the 99, so it’ll be interesting to see him in an environment where his shenanigans elicit different reactions. Plus, that might mean we get another stellar addition to the 99!

On the other hand, I’m not sure how long they will be able to keep Peralta away from the core cast. In season 3 of The Office, they couldn’t keep Jim away from Scranton without the energy of the show suffering greatly.

Thoughts? Do you think the Peralta/Santiago dynamic will be helped or hurt by Peralta’s absence?

Jane: First of all I think that’s a great point about The Office. I’d actually never considered that. I really enjoyed Jim’s return and the change in dynamic with him and Pam. She was still forced to miss him even when he was back. I think it will be interesting to see the ways in which Peralta and Santiago miss each other. It could be entertaining to see how two stubborn people who haven’t actually admitted their feelings deal with each other’s absence. On the other hand I will miss their chemistry. I would miss the chemistry Peralta has with everyone in the precinct. Who would Boyle have to look up to?

Katie: Yes, Andy Samberg is so lovable! I love the way he bounces off all the others.

Any final shout outs?

Jane: When Peralta and Santiago are going door to door with a mug shot of the perpetrator and guest star Fred Armison thinks it’s a gift, takes the picture and says “thank you” in the most delighted way . I’m still laughing about that. Also, a shout out to Gina’s angry unicorn blanket. How bout you?

Katie: Shout out to Terry’s nickname “Terry Titty”, Boyle’s butt holes, Boyle’s egg sack, and to Hitchcock, who never likes to keep his shirt on.

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