‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Stages A ‘West Wing’ Thanksgiving Reunion In ‘Two Turkeys’

A quick review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine coming up just as soon as I dipstick your bike…

Guest stars can be a mixed bag for a show with an ensemble as gifted and deep as Brooklyn Nine-Nine has. On the one hand, the show brings in tons of wonderful guests like Dean Winters or Kyra Sedgwick or Dennis Haysbert, and almost always gives them funny roles to play. On the other, the show has so much trouble juggling the regular cast — even with Chelsea Peretti on maternity leave at the moment, some episodes still feel crowded — that building episodes around outside characters can only exacerbate the problem of various regulars not having enough to do.

“Two Turkeys” is perhaps the most guest star-driven installment of the entire series, with large swaths of it feeling less like a Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode than the backdoor pilot for a spin-off about Jake and Amy’s fathers. But when those fathers happen to be played by Bradley Whitford and Jimmy Smits — the two of them enjoying both the late-stage West Wing reunion and the opportunity to play increasingly petty and drunk — with Katey Sagal also around to stir up trouble, it’s maybe okay to turn the lead couple into horrified observers for once. Because Smits is generally asked to do comedy more rarely than Whitford or Sagal, it’s a particular pleasure to see him dive into the exaggerated machismo and arrogance of Victor Santiago.

Still, the story about Captain Holt’s missing pie proved the episode’s more entertaining one. Not only did it feature Andre Braugher playing the closest he’s come on the show to Frank Pembleton, and in a silly context, but any chance to see Scully and Hitchcock find an area where they’re more competent than the other detectives (in this case, identifying and tracking down unhealthy food) is a treat.

And that’s the advantage of leaning on regular characters as well-developed as these. Smits and Whitford are a treat to watch, but we know Holt and the two idiots so well that all it takes is a slight push out of their usual context to generate big laughs

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@uproxx.com. He discusses television weekly on the TV Avalanche podcast. His new book, Breaking Bad 101, is on sale now.