Recurring Cast: Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Melissa Fumero, Terry Crews, Stephanie Beatriz, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti
Sometimes sitcoms must be damn hard to write. On one hand, any TV show thrives from development. We want to see the characters we spend these episodes grow and evolve as the series develops. However, on the other hand, what isn’t broke shouldn’t be fixed. The dynamic between Andy Samberg and Melissa Fumero is so intriguing that we don’t quite want anything to change. Andre Braugher is the kind of character, and actor, who you feel should get a story arc open his character wide open, but his current persona brings so many jokes to the table, added baggage might bring that quirky dynamic down. It kind of means that the writers are trapped in a state of lingo, catch 22… what do they do with the show?
This problem is dialled up to nine (or perhaps nine nine), after the last season. The writers looked like the show was flagging, as they tried new things, and pushed the limits that the show had already set up. Season Three only really took off in the dying moments, when a final push threw an interesting storyline into the mix. Season Four, thankfully, seems to learn from the mistakes of the past. The new dynamic of the show seems to be focusing on certain storylines for episodes at a time, but outside of those specific narratives, the show gives itself free reign to just do whatever it wants. For example, the first three episodes wrap up the storyline from the last season, as well as giving the show’s first half of the season its quirk: the Brooklyn Nine Nine crew being relegated to the night shift. However, whenever it isn’t focusing on the gang trying to curry favour to get the Nine Nine back to their original routine, it is business as usual: Jake meets Amy’s father, Terry investigates his favourite author, Peralta ends up investigating a robbery on a cop show TV set (starring Nathan Fillion, because Brooklyn Nine Nine know how to entertain an audience)… It ends up with the pleasing routine of Brooklyn Nine Nine being able to satisfy the audience on a simpler level. This is a sitcom about cops doing silly things and the writers know exactly how to hit that sweet spot. It’s not quite the level it used to be, a few traits feeling a little overused at this point of the show’s life, such as Chelsea Peretti’s character always being a step ahead of the rest of the cast, the answer to the show’s problem up her sleeve from the very start. However, on the whole, it is hard to find a fault with Season Four’s style of comedy. Then there are certain moments when the writers come out of nowhere and deliver a left field punch. The best episode is not attached to any major storyline, but planted in the middle, unassumingly. The story involves Terry being harassed by another cop and realising that it is because he is black. The storyline keeps it funny, but also topical. By the end, it is surprisingly touching, perhaps one of the highlights of the series. Moments like this seems simple on their own, but they actually give Brooklyn Nine Nine its bite. For a series that was beginning to flag, Season Four promises there is life in the beast yet.
Final Verdict: Brooklyn Nine Nine finds a winning streak once again with a season that can do both funny and serious in equal measure.