Brooklyn Nine-Nine ends its freshman season tonight in fine form, staking its claim as possibly the best comedy on network TV.
Without giving anything away, the series finale tonight does the admirable job of both providing nearly every character with ample material and moving the series forward. It's a great end to a pretty illustrious introductory season. It left the Golden Globes with awards for lead actor Andy Samberg and for the show as a whole. It was pretty much critically beloved from the moment it began. It didn't get great ratings, but what comedy other than The Big Bang Theory does these days?
Brooklyn Nine-Nine came out of the gate knowing exactly who its characters were, a rarity in television comedy. Sure, they've all grown and matured as the season has worn on, their quirks have gotten deeper (as in the as of Joe Lo Truglio's Charles Boyle) or mellowed (as in the case of Samberg's Jake Peralta). Perhaps creators Dan Goor and Mike Schur learned their lessons from their work on Parks and Recreation, a show that had an uneven first season and, at least in the case of Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope, took a while to realize who its characters were. Goor and Schur perhaps borrowed from themselves, but Brooklyn was very quickly not a Parks rip-off, even though it is another show filled with lovable weirdos, who actually care for one another.
Hands down the best character on the show is Captain Ray Holt, played in miraculous deadpan by Andre Braugher. But while Holt could have easily gone wrong thanks to his two joke premise—he's deadpan and gay—Braugher and the show's writers have constantly given him depth. The best example of this came in episode 16, "The Party," in which the Nine-Nine team is invited over to a party at his house. There they meet Holt's equally deadpan professor husband, who they assumed invited them. Turns out Holt actually likes his colleagues, and it was his husband, who for years watched Holt suffer thanks to bigoted cops, that was resistant to having them over. The resolution was sweet and but did not turn into a very special episode.
The biggest hurdle the show has faced has been the Andy Samberg of it all. People have strong feelings about the Saturday Night Live vet, who can sometimes rely too heavily on weird faces to play standard goofy bros. In the pilot, it wasn't clear whether it was believable that the joke-playing Peralta was actually good at his job, but the show has since made it clear that Peralta—despite his preference for antics and his lack of ability to deal with his personal life—is talented and genuinely able to catch criminals. He's also got good chemistry with Melissa Fumero's type-A detective Amy Santiago, which makes us slightly less annoyed about their impending romance. Just watch the trick they play to catch some perps in the thirteenth episode "The Bet."
Brooklyn has some work to do. I'd love to see the great Stephanie Beatriz have more to do as Detective Rosa Diaz, as funny as she is playing tough and unsympathetic. Though she has been given a couple of great episodes—especially the ones that explore her relationship with smitten Boyle, like "Tactical Village"—her sourness often seems to be a crutch.
Is the show the best comedy on network TV? It has been more consistent this season than New Girl and The Mindy Project the other Tuesday night comedies on Fox. It's a completely different genre than something like Trophy Wife on ABC. And it doesn't have the legs of, say, Parks. But if it's not quite there yet, it's pretty damn close.