A review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine coming up just as soon as I give you a signed copy of my book of mouth exercises…
My father’s cousin was an actor named Danny Wells. He never hit it big – these days, if people would know him at all, it would be forplaying Luigi to Captain Lou Albano’s Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! – but he worked steadily in TV throughout the ’70s and ’80s, to the point where it became almost routine when I would tell my parents that Cousin Danny had popped up in another episode of The A-Team or CHiPs. He also had a recurring role on The Jeffersons as Charlie, the bartender on the first floor of George and Weezie’s apartment building (here he is giving George some advice), and towards the end of the series, there were even a couple of Charlie-centric episodes. By then, I was old enough to understand Cousin Danny’s relative level of fame, and I appreciated that he was getting an occasional showcase like that.
As a result, I’ve long been a sucker for an episode like “House Mouses,” where background characters like Hitchcock and Scully get to step to the front and have their moment. Those two are more regular, prominent fixtures of Brooklyn – their proper analogue wouldn’t be Charlie on The Jeffersons, but Donna and Garry on Parks and Rec – and they’ve occasionally been at the center of subplots in episodes past, but this was the first episode really built around the squad’s resident idiots, and Dirk Blocker and Joel McKinnon Miller more than rose to the occasion. It took some occasionally labored set-up to get them into the grow house with Jake and Terry, but the payoff with the two of them using their particular set of skills – Scully’s sweatiness, Hitchcock’s ability to do things without ever getting out of his office chair (“He’s like a big lazy Michelle Kwan!”) – was more than worth it.
Really, other than the amazing expression on Andre Braugher’s face when Holt assumed the rubber bands were from Kevin, “House Mouses” was an episode where most of the laughs were concentrated in the final third. Fortunately, those laughs – Gina wearing Amy’s prom suit and a realistic ponytail wig to deal with the business people, all classical musicians being revealed as thieves, Rosa repeatedly screaming at the blood drive tech to stab her – were big enough to be worth the wait.
What I’ll be curious to see is whether “House Mouses” was an anomaly – an attaboy to two loyal and funny actors who’ve spent most of three seasons in the background – or if they might drive more stories going forward. The end of the episode, with the two of them asleep in their new chairs, would suggest not. They’re also still pretty cartoonish relative to the other detectives, but you could have also said that about Garry Gergich once upon a time.
What did everybody else think? And do you have a favorite example of a show reaching waaaay down to the end of the regular/recurring cast bench for a spotlight episode?