Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1 (TV Review)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1 (TV Review)

New to Netflix this month is the first season of the Emmy Award-winning TV comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, starring Andy Samberg.

The plot of the show is fairly simple. It is an ensemble comedy focused around the lives and work of a Brooklyn detective precinct. That’s it. Pretty simple, really. And it really, really works.

Perhaps the biggest strength of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is that it manages to be a true ensemble comedy, with all of the characters able to generate their own laughs. This isn’t a show that relies simply on Samberg’s goofiness and a bunch of slugs surrounding him to set up the laughs. Each character gets in on the act, able to make their own humour fit nicely into the concept of the show, and play off one another.

The 99th precinct is full of archetypal cop characters: the straight-laced Captain, the goofy, but successful detective, the brown nosed ladder climber, the hard-edged female cop, the goofy sidekick, the teddy bear sergeant, the incompetent old-timers, and the borderline psychotic secretary. And each one is able to come into their own, and not be overshadowed. The ensemble arrangement of the cast is perfect, allowing us to see, and like, each of the characters, without getting too tired of them. Obviously, Samberg is the main character, but he doesn’t really hog screen time, and his comedy is dead on. He takes the set ups perfectly, has witty, less obvious jokes, and manages to become a really likable character as the season progresses. It is a perfect blend, and well done by the show.

The hard edge and the do-gooder.
The hard edge and the do-gooder.

The supporting cast is really strong, and if the show continues, it could become one of the questions of “who is your favorite cop,” much like other ensembles in the past, like deciding who your favorite Friend was. Through season 1, I am taken by Stephanie Beatriz, who plays the black leather clad, unsmiling, tough-as-nails female cop Rosa Diaz. Not only is she intimidatingly attractive in her gothic attire, but her hard nosed cruelty is generally hilarious. She owns the character, and she plays well with the others around her. Diaz is always good for a smirk, or a commentary on how she loves when things go wrong.

The plots of the episodes are what would be expected of a comedy set in a police station. There are crimes, they solve them. But that is not really the focus of the show. It is more about the interaction of the characters that drives this series forwards. And these interactions are fantastic. The back and forth between Jake Peralta and his Captain are priceless. The constant bickering between Peralta and the goodie-two-shoes Amy Santiago gives way to some excellent one-liners. And pretty much everything that the extra-quirky secretary Gina offers up is priceless.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is funny. Something that is increasingly rare on a network series. There are laughs in every episode, and it is currently hitting its stride as a show. The drama hasn’t yet crept in, something that eventually will affect every sitcom, so right now is the glory years of the show. And yes, I understand it is only the first season. But winning the Emmy for Best Comedy and Best Comedy Actor in its first year pretty much assures us that this show will be around for a few years. It will fall, and the jokes and characters will become tiresome. But for now, it is fresh, it is fun, and it is pretty damn hilarious.

Definitely add Brooklyn Nine-Nine to your summer watch list, it will be well worth your time. Once you have adjusted to the new characters, you will start to like them, and the way they play off one another is great. Well worth watching, and enjoying.

Throwback TV: Veronica Mars Season 1

Throwback TV: Veronica Mars Season 1

I’ve written a fair amount about Veronica Mars, because I just love it. I’ve written about the movie trailer, the film itself, and have even read the first novel in what is a possible VM book series, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.

Going back to where it all began, season 1 of the cult TV show is simply an awesome watch. Over the course of the season, we see the development of the characters that would play roles throughout the series, and we would see Kristen Bell become Veronica, to the point where she is one of the best female TV characters of the last decade.

And seeing as how Veronica Mars has been a recent addition to the Netflix lineup, it seemed an appropriate time to write about it. While I have gone through the entire series three times prior, seeing it on Netflix drew me back in for another complete viewing.

veronica2After Laura Palmer, and well before Rosie Larson, we wanted to know who killed Lilly Kane.

The premise of the first season is to introduce the once popular, but now pariah character of Veronica Mars, daughter to the former sheriff of Neptune, California, where the social divide is great between the haves and the have nots. Veronica used to run with the popular group, date the son of a billionaire, and be well respected among her peers at school. But that all changed after her best friend, Lilly, was murdered. Her father, Keith Mars, tried to pin the murder on Jake Kane, Lilly’s father, which essentially ostracized both of them from the high end people of Neptune. Veronica stuck with her father, not believing that the murder was solved, as the new sheriff would have everyone believe. Sure, there was a man behind bars, but something never fit right with the Mars family. Now, no longer sheriff, Keith is a private detective in town, and Veronica helps him on some of his cases. Often of the more sordid variety, such as cheating husbands.

But Veronica wants to know who really killed her best friend. Not to get back in with the cool people at school, but for her peace, Lilly’s peace, and her father’s vindication.

The first season of Veronica Mars has the long, over-arching story line of who killed Lilly. But in between, there are smaller arcs, as well as episode one offs, all of which are fun and interesting little mysteries, filled with wit, humour, and the perfect amount of seriousness, all while exploring topics of class division, popularity, and the typical teen issues. Veronica deals with small cases, like mysterious dog disappearances, to bigger things, like drug smuggling, and her own drugging and rape at a school party.

Veronica has a chip on her shoulder, and she is determined to get revenge on people who have wronged her, and wronged the people that she cares about. While her behavior can be morally questionable at times, Veronica always has justice at heart, which makes her an intriguing character.

She has a veneer of sarcasm that is able to protect a hurt girl, who has many wrongs in her life. Aside from the fall from popular grace, she has had to deal with an alcoholic mother who eventually abandons her family, questions about her own paternity, the scorn of the people from her past, and the struggles to balance her unique job and her studies, where she is a top student without the money to go to an elite school. She needs to earn everything she gets, and she is faced with tough decisions all the way through the first season.

But she is tough, which is why we love her. There is nary a situation that doesn’t warrant a quip from her, and the writers of the show gave Bell some great material to work with. But it is Bell that really makes this character come alive, and she gives Veronica the edge and humour that make her so lovable, and an easy character to cheer for.

The first season is full of twists and turns, both within the small story lines, as well as the big one. There are plenty of laughs, and plenty of strong secondary characters that make the show go round. Particularly strong is the relationship between Keith and his daughter, as they are serious about their work, but also seem to have the perfect father-daughter relationship, in that they can confide in one another, and do so quite hilariously at times.

Regardless of your taste in TV, Veronica Mars should be considered as a must see series. It never got the viewers it should have during its time on TV, but warrants a watching now. It is non-stop entertainment, with clever writing full of allusions that will make the knowledgeable pop culture junkie happy. Even having gone through the series several times, I still find myself enjoying the show, the quips, and being more knowing and involved in the mystery.