I’ve got audible sighs to go around for FOX’s new comedy, Brooklyn Nine Nine, which stars Saturday Night Live alum, Andy Samberg. To be fair, as an SNL skit, it would be entertaining and even probably funny. But as a half-hour show, it’s not really either of those things. Actually, how about we play an interactive game called “Let’s See If This Show Idea Makes Any Sense To You”? It’s the one where I tell you that it’s about a detective in an NYC precinct who gets into all sorts of wacky hijinks with his detective pals, like having fire extinguisher chair races because comedy and zany and fun! And, if you are like me at 8:29 PM last night, you say, “hehe, but that sounds like it might be kind of okay.” But, if you are anything like me at any point after this show’s premiere, you know that the only place that that kind of plot line would work in a comedic way is on a stage at 30 Rockefeller Center in the middle of an SNL show.
I can appreciate the kind of thing they were going for here, especially since I’ve now feasted my eyes on this show’s tagline of “The law. Without the order.” They were trying to do the goofy buddy-cop thing, which, on a sketch show, would’ve certainly gotten a few laughs and even more Tumblr GIFs. But, when an entire show is centered around a cop whose weird jokes just get in the way of his duty to protect other people, it tends to be less funny than it is unbelievable. And I don’t mean unbelievable in the way that people in paper towel commercials feel about only needing one sheet for their mess; I mean the good ol’ this-is-so-ridiculous kind.
Did you notice how I said “his duty to protect people”? Because that’s what cops do! It’s their thing, it’s why they’re allowed to carry guns around and wear fancy non-cereal-box badges. It’s their job to take their jobs seriously. I don’t even care that a lot of the show takes place at the precinct, which could kind of be considered an office setting, what with all of the copy machines and desktop computers. I don’t care because they’re still police officers and crime is pretty hard to turn into a good time. The “idiotic protagonist who is also an office worker” storyline does well in shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation because there’s nothing at stake when they screw things up. Sure, someone might get a paper shipment that is double what they ordered and a Pawnee park might be missing a swing set, but really, no one’s going to care too much. All they’ll do is break the fourth wall and look into the camera in a deadpan way, causing a wave of riotous laughter to wash over households all over the world. (That’s what happens, right?) If a cop messes up on the job, things like having a standoff with a murderer and having that murderer escape could happen. Those two things totally happened, by the way. And then he didn’t get fired because HAHAH hijinks, am I right?
I’m just saying, if show creators are trying to push the envelope to let their creativity spread its wings, then they should do that. Simply CTRL+V-ing your way through your television career will leave you with shows that aren’t fun to watch. I see you, TV creators, trying your hardest to make a detective who is a bumbling idiot be also believable as the precinct’s best member, but I just don’t want to spend 30 minutes watching you do that. Do you see the distinction? However, I do hear that Lorne Michaels over at the SNL studios has sent one of his staff writers to the lobby to wait for you to arrive and drop off your ideas for the rest of this season. If you agree to not run the episodes that you’ve already filmed, he agrees to make your episodic into a single, funny sketch. But that’s just rumor, feel free to call him and verify.