“You guys, Algernon’s back!”
Of all the pilots I’ve watched so far this fall, Brooklyn Nine-Nine was my favorite. It wasn’t perfect, but it had three things: great cast, good concept, good writing.
What a lot of people don’t know is that you can get a better sense of how a show is going to be by watching the second episode. A pilot is tricky to pull off, but months of work go into it. Writers spend a long time agonizing over details and plot points. You really want to nail a pilot because it’s what you use to pitch to networks.
In contrast, a second episode might give you a better idea of what typical material from the show will look like. And on that note, Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s second episode wasn’t nearly as funny as its first.
Sure Andy Samberg is still wacky as Detective Jake Peralta, and Andre Braugher is still a good foil as his dry humor captain, but the jokes this week felt more forced to me. There were still plenty of laugh out loud moments, but characters veered even more toward caricatures than before. The joy in watching a TV show is watching characters become three-dimensional people over time, not more cartoonish stereotypes.
The main storyline of this episode consisted of Captain Holt deciding he would babysit Jake until Jake cleaned up his act (and his desk). He may have more arrests than any other detective on the force, but his sloppy paperwork and habits hold him back. On the flip side of this, his case of the week involves a kid tagging police cars with giant penises. And the kid ends up being the son of the deputy commissioner. Whoops.
Said commissioner comes into the office like a huge blowhard, suggesting that Jake let his son off because he is “special” and threatening to destroy his career. Holt suggests that caring about something doesn’t mean cleaning up their messes, but making them do it themselves so they are better for it. Get the parallel? Very nice.
It was an OK episode. Just OK. Don’t force the jokes, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, don’t try too hard, and let your fantastic supporting cast have a little more room to breathe. I want to see this show hit its potential greatness.