Review: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ – ‘Thanksgiving’

Senior Television Writer
11.26.13 29 Comments

A review of tonight’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” coming up just as soon as I make the cover of Hair Pulled Back Magazine…

For most of this first season, I’ve been talking about episodes where one element didn’t work, but others compensated for it, or where things didn’t maybe work as a whole but individual pieces were funny enough to carry it all. “Thanksgiving” was the first episode of the show where I didn’t have any “Yes, but…” reactions – perhaps because I was just too busy laughing frequently in each scene. The series still has room to grow, but this was a really satisfying, really amusing early installment, easily my favorite one to date.

It helped that the episode not only used the entire cast (including Scully and Hitchcock), but largely had them all interacting with each other. Peralta and Holt went off on their own for a while – leading up to perhaps my biggest laugh of the episode, when an exasperated Holt shut up the squabbling family by announcing, in character as Jerald Jimes, “My wife was murdered by a man in a yellow sweater!”(*) – but it was mostly everyone in one room, sometimes paired off, sometimes all going at it at once, and the characters clicked in every combination. Boyle Bingo was a great idea, and Terry’s hunger-induced rage was the comic gift that kept on giving. The highlight was him shaking an upside-down Scully and demanding, “Release yo’ sweets!” (another contender for funniest moment), but I kept expecting to get tired of it and yet kept laughing. Everyone got a moment to shine, whether it was Scully singing opera (to Jake’s dismay), Santiago continually being pathetic in front of Holt (their awkward small talk at her apartment door was a delight), Gina mocking Amy’s apartment for being grandmotherly (“Stop. Each sentence is getting fatter.”), Diaz enjoying the rats eating Scully’s stash, etc.

(*) The scary thing is, I could imagine a universe where Andre Braugher played a serious version of Jerald Jimes in a middling network procedural. The backstory’s not that far removed from main characters on “The Mentalist” or “Castle” or “Unforgettable.” I’m much happier with Braugher in the silly place where he is now.

And the Holt/Peralta scenes, which have been problematic in a lot of previous episodes, were marvelous here. There’s still probably too much of the little boy in Jake, but here the script neatly balanced each moment of him being distracted or petulant or goofy with one of him doing the job well. He wins the fight against the lookout, for instance, even as he’s complaining about not wanting to see the football score. So when Holt gets understandably and repeatedly annoyed by his subordinate, it’s not because Peralta’s being incompetent, like he’s been at times in previous episodes, but because he’s just being annoying. (Braugher’s reaction when Peralta went on the run about Jimes’ father being murdered by a bookie was perfect.)

Holidays often bring out the best in comedies. That was definitely the case here.

What did everybody else think?

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