‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Lets Nathan Fillion Spoof Himself In ‘Serve & Protect’

A quick review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine coming up just as soon as George Clooney and I prank Matt Damon…

It’s odd: Nathan Fillion’s TV career essentially began with the sitcom Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place, where he was a late addition to the cast and very quickly became that show’s go-to player, and his two most famous roles on Firefly and Castle drew heavily on his ability to be funny in a dramatic context. Yet when he’s popped up on sitcoms lately, they haven’t really known what to do with him(*). Community largely wasted both of his appearances as Greendale’s head custodian, and this episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine doesn’t seem to have an idea beyond getting him to spoof his role on Castle.

(*) I say this having not seen his stint on Modern Family, which for all I know could have been his equivalent of Jon Hamm on 30 Rock.

As Mark Devereaux, star of the eponymous show-within-the-show of Serve & Protect, Fillion wasn’t exactly playing Richard Castle, but he was still riffing on the idea of actors on cop shows who start to believe they can do the job for real. It’s a familiar joke, but not a bad one, and Fillion seemed game for it. The problem was that he didn’t have enough to do, as the A-story was mainly about Jake and Rosa’s disagreement about how to handle the case and her belief that he was letting himself be flattered into ignoring the obvious suspect. Which is a fine idea for a story, albeit not the first time Brooklyn has had Jake and Rosa argue about their respective instincts, but Fillion seemed wildly overqualified for what he’d been asked to do, which became a distraction.

Maybe this would have been an episode that benefited from cutting down from three stories to two, somehow combining all the intrigue about the potential precinct closing into one subplot with all the other characters, since neither of those was entirely thrilling. The episode’s highlight, by far, was Holt and Boyle discussing pauses and eyebrow pumps as they prepared to blackmail Terry’s ex-girlfriend’s boss, and that worked in part because it was just the two of them, but this is far from the first Brooklyn episode that had more story than time to properly tell all of them. It’s hard to service the whole cast every week; when you throw in a prominent guest star (plus Greg Germann as the showrunner, and more from Kimberly Hebert Gregory as Terry’s ex), nobody quite gets enough to do.

Also, I think I might have liked the idea of Jake actually getting the technical consultant job as an occasional source of plot and humor, given his obsession with cops shows and movies, so it felt like a missed opportunity to have him blow it. But at least the final punchline to the episode — Jake, having thoroughly annoyed the showrunner, gets his name applied to a particularly disgusting sex criminal, and is just happy to hear his name said on TV — was funny.

What did everybody else think?