‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ experiments with cop chemistry

Sept. 23, 2013

Sara Horton
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3 out of 5 stars

“This job is eating me alive,” says a straight-faced Andy Samberg to the camera. “I can’t breathe anymore. I spent all these years trying to be the good guy, the man in the white hat. I’m not becoming like them. I am them.”

For those who know Samberg from “Saturday Night Live,” they may have a hard time taking him seriously. Thankfully, no one needs to – not while he’s playing NYPD Detective Jake Peralta on Fox’s comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” which premiered Sept. 17.

He’s reciting his dramatic “Donnie Brasco” speech while being recorded in an electronics store, much to the dismay of his straight-laced partner Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero).

Samberg’s character doesn’t need to be the good guy. Just the guy who saves this show. While the pilot shows a promising and diverse ensemble, the only real laugh-out-loud moment involves a colorful man Speedo and public humiliation.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is a decent attempt to insert workplace comedy into a cop show, basically “The Office” commandeering “Law and Order.”

Like most clever ideas, it gets a little lost in the pilot, where all of the precinct workers and their interpersonal dirty laundry need to be introduced before the real fun can start.

Jake and Amy’s precinct is facing changes after their former boss, “Old Captain McGinley,” leaves. This provides an amusing, however brief, glimpse at the laid-back office culture.

Nostalgia prompts a flashback to Jake and a fellow detective in roller chairs with fire extinguisher nozzles aimed at the ground.

Their coworkers are whooping and hollering until McGinley arrives and sternly demands to know what the hell is going on.

“Fire extinguisher roller chair derby?” Jake asks, armed with no other explanation than the truth.

McGinley pauses. “OK,” he shrugs, turning around to leave.

When McGinley’s successor, Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher), arrives, he deadpans his way through introductions and makes clear there will be no more shenanigans.

Immediately, he butts heads with Jake. Between Jake’s constant run-ins with his partner and new boss, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has the potential to grow stale quickly.

Still, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” deserves a chance to play with that dynamic, as pilots never seem to give any series enough time to explore.

A brief (and perfectly awkward) appearance by fellow “SNL” star Fred Armisen also suggests guest stars can help keep the show fresh.

Full episodes of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” can be watched for free online (fox.com/brooklyn-nine-nine).