A review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine double-feature coming up just as soon as I teach you a lesson about the destructive power of wordplay…
Neither “Nutriboom” nor “DFW” will go down as among the strongest entries of season 5, but there was just enough comic joy to be found across the hour — basically, combine the Backstreet Boys teaser from “DFW” with the title plot of “Nutriboom,” the Terry/Boyle yoga C-plot from “DFW, ” and maybe Amy’s first experience with command — to make for one excellent episode of the show, albeit an unbalanced one that would give certain characters like Charles lots to do, while leaving others on the sideline for the week.
Jake leading an entire criminal lineup in a performance of “I Want It That Way” immediately goes into the pantheon of the show’s cold opens, combining Andy Samberg’s love of boy bands with Jake’s periodic tendency to forget the ramification of cases if they remind him of some bit of pop culture he enjoys. Plus, the killer also had a killer voice! (The pigeon-killing “Nutriboom” teaser was pretty swell, too, but less musical.)
The Nutriboom case, meanwhile, was a reminder of what a deep bench of recurring characters the series has created, essentially generating an entire A-story out of how Bill, the Boyle doppelganger Jake employees for the Halloween heists, is even sadder and creepier than the real Boyle. It’s a nice reward to Winston Story for turning his resemblance to Joe Lo Truglio into a funny character in its own right, and having a cross between Scientology and a pyramid scheme as Jake’s new recurring nemesis fits the show better tonally than the gangsters and crooked cops Brooklyn has tried so often in the past.
Terry breaking half his body trying to do yoga is basically a rehash of Ron Swanson’s hernia from Parks and Rec, but it’s the kind of physical comedy nearly every sitcom tries at some point because it works, particularly when the contrast between able-bodied and injured is as amusing as it is for Terry Crews. And I was glad to see that Hitchcock and Scully were able to make a new nap room after their last one was turned into Gina’s pumping station; the only question is whether they’ll have to relocate again now that Holt has seen this one. And Amy coming to grips with having to supervise her own Amy was a nice start to her new job (more on that below), and would make an effective B-plot in almost any episode.
There were some good jokes scattered throughout the rest of the episodes, but Jake meeting his half-sister Kate (played by Samberg’s old SNL co-star Nasim Pedrad) as the main plot of “DFW” was mostly a miss, in part because her behavior never seemed quite terrible (or, other than the bag of glass, creatively terrible) enough, since the episode had to hedge enough so that you’d buy the siblings reconciling by the end.
Some other thoughts:
* I haven’t seen past these episodes yet, so I have no idea if Santiago’s new position supervising the precinct’s uniform cops will be long-term or not. Within the vague boundaries of realism the show has set for itself, it makes sense, since the squad doesn’t need yet another supervising officer in addition to Holt and Terry, and it’s not like Amy would be too far removed from the detectives to remain a viable character. (At minimum, she’s still engaged to Jake, and she still reports directly to Holt, so she’s no more out of the loop than Gina.) That said, I’ll be curious to see how an already-overcrowded show accommodates an additional set of characters (or if they even bother establishing any patrol characters beyond the Amy-esque Officer Jennings), and/or whether they attempt to introduce a new detective to take Amy’s old position.
* Jay Chandrasekhar, in addition to being part of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe behind Super Troopers, is a pretty busy TV comedy director (and intermittent TV actor, like his recurring Speechless role as Dylan’s track coach), but he’s never actually directed Brooklyn (or any other Schur/Goor series).
* Since “DFW” didn’t have to set things up for Jake to stay friends with Kate’s ex (played by Kirk Fox, aka Sewage Joe from Parks), he was allowed to be a bit stranger and more awful.
* Because we only got a five-second glimpse of Rosa’s new bartender girlfriend, the most memorable part of that subplot from “DFW” was Gina having a Captain Holt soundboard, which allows the show to feature the kinds of absurd sentences that are funny when Andre Braugher says them, but probably stretch the limits of what even Holt at this stage of the series would utter on his own.
* Two other thoughts, re: the nap room: 1)Actual police precinct houses have been known to have rooms where cops can sleep if they’re working overtime on a case or for some other reason can’t go home for a while (the NYPD Blue cops were frequently crashing in the “crib” upstairs next to the Anti-Crime unit), and 2)I recently started rewatching the series from scratch with my daughter, and one early episode has Holt trying to set up multiple places for Terry to sleep when he won’t go home. So ideally, Holt would leave Hitchcock and Scully’s sanctuary alone, provided it was open to other detectives.
* The screeners had incomplete special effects, so I got to see the contraption used to create the illusion that Boyle was carrying Terry (in an homage to the end of An Officer and a Gentleman, down to the use of “Up Where We Belong”) that got digitally erased in the final version. Suffice it to say, it was not a small contraption.
What did everybody else think?