A version of this article originally appeared on Den of Geek UK.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a quick-witted, warm-hearted cop comedy series. It’s hard to imagine a world without the Die Hard-loving, authority challenging Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) or his food-loving best friend Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio). Where would we be without the egotistical wisdoms of Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti), the relentless brown nosing and binder collating of Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) and the weapon-wielding human enigma that is Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz)?
This show may be the reason that Andy Samberg left the BBC sitcom Cuckoo after only one series, but we can forgive him for Brooklyn Nine-Nine. A co-producer of the show, Samberg heads up one of the strongest sitcom casts to have graced the small screen. The show’s well-developed and hilarious characters are wedded to their jobs within the New York Police Department and so they very much live out their lives, including their hobbies and neuroses, within the precinct’s four walls. The scripts serve up intriguing cases alongside plenty of hijinks, clashes and love interests along the way.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine would be worth the watch for Andre Braugher’s Captain Raymond Holt alone, the emotionally withdrawn captain of the 9-9 with the most exquisitely bland tastes. Creators Dan Goor and Michael Schur have made Holt, much like all of their striking characters, utterly loveable in his own rigid and protocol-adhering way and when pitched against the emotional, yoghurt-eating muscle machine that is Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) there really is no better way to pass 22 minutes.
Not yet sold? Here’s what you’ve got to look forward to if you get Nine-Nine up on your next Netflix binge….
Kick-ass female characters
One of the most impressive things about Brooklyn Nine-Nine is its attitude towards its female characters. The NYPD, as Goor and Schur have created it, is a place that is essentially gender-blind in the best way possible. There is never a moment when a female character must strive to prove herself in a “boys club” environment; everything is on a pretty equal footing from the start.
Sure, every character fights to prove themselves to the captain and to each other in a competitive environment, and in one episode the girls acknowledge the advantage of getting on as fellow female detectives, but there is never any doubting the ability of women in the role of a police detective. The fact that there are three such different female characters in the central cast alone is also refreshing; these are not “token” female characters, they are pivotal to the force and strong in their own very different ways. It becomes so normal that women and men can work alongside each other in law enforcement that fans of the show may not even consider this a selling point, just a given. Hallelujah.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s character cameos are sprinkled throughout the show’s four seasons, never interrupting the flow of the show and always an injection of comedy delight. Some characters have been a one-off treat, like Jenny Slate’s mob mistress Bianca, while others have made a couple of minor but stand-out appearances, such as Fred Armisen’s wonderful Mlepnos, a man encountered on two separate occasions when Jake and Amy are assigned door duty. A music loving Leirkrakeegovnian (yes, you heard right), he spells out his name to the two detectives in an early episode “M-L-E-P-CLAY…” and asserts to a confused Amy that “the ‘clay’ is silent.” The cameos never disappoint.
If a cameo character makes a meaningful narrative or emotional connection with any of the 9-9 characters you can be sure they’ll be back, but not too soon either. The cameos are excellently positioned so fans of Nine-Nine can enjoy their return but not at the expense of the comedic rhythm of the day-to-day. Examples include Keith Pembroke (Dean Winters), the slimy glory-stealer know to the detectives as “The Vulture,” Deputy Chief Madeline Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick), frequently referred to by Raymond Holt as a witch and the lovable Kevin Cozner (Marc Evan Jackson), Holt’s husband and believed by Jake to be the star of “Danzes with Wolvez.”
The stand-out recurring character would undoubtedly be the elusive Doug Judy (Craig Robinson), also known to the 9-9 as the “Pontiac Bandit” with whom Jake has an unlikely bromance and a desperate desire to finally pin down. Judy’s return has become a guaranteed seasonly event and each of the Pontiac Bandit episodes are a guaranteed romp of plot twists and hilarity.
In addition to looking forward to a select few characters making their return each season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a few show traditions that fans can expect too. The team are subjected to various training days and role-plays throughout the three seasons that each bring out the detectives’ competitive sides in a lower-stakes setting and only a few episodes will go by before you see the team in their latest case-related get-up walking slow-mo style towards the camera to a badass soundtrack that you can imagine Jake’s character would have selected himself.
On Halloween it’s a guarantee that Charles will be the only detective to arrive at work in an elaborate and carefully thought-out costume and this time of year is also the setting for the precinct’s yearly challenge between Jake and Captain Holt. Instigated in the first season by Jake who believes himself capable of being a more intelligent criminal than the perpetrators they have in police holding, the challenge to steal Holt’s Medal of Valour before midnight begins. The show has three such episodes, Halloween I, Halloween II and Halloween, Part III, each time the object in question changing and the stakes growing increasingly higher.