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Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – A Tale of Two Bandits (6×05)

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Doug Judy returns! PB&J reunites.

Doug Judy brings an energy and breeziness to the show in his yearly episodes. I always look forward to Doug Judy and Jake. This year is no exception, though I will admit I felt the tension of the episode lacked this time around.

Part of that was due to the fact that by now it is well established that Doug (we’re on a first name basis now) and Jake are friends. The episode rested a lot of the suspense on whether or not Doug would dupe Jake again, but because he’s done this so many times and always returns it didn’t really matter to me whether or not he betrayed Jake. If Doug turns, he and Jake will still be friends. If Doug doesn’t turn, he and Jake will still be friends. No real stakes, and therefore a lack of tension.

So I was glad that Trudy Judy ended up being the culprit – at least it was different. But I think the episode would have been a little more successful if it had played up the suspense on whether or not Trudy was going to turn on them more than if Doug was going to. I know it was a “twist,” but in this case, I would have sacrificed that twist to create a fuller sense of suspense. It’s not like it was a mind-blowing reveal or anything.

That gripe aside, Jake and Doug’s easy chemistry with each other brings an infectious joy to the screen. I love how they think so similarly but their personalities are still so different. In the end though, Doug and Jake don’t have the same kind of bond as Jake does with the rest of the Nine-Nine, and even though the B story wasn’t directly connected to the A story, thematically this worked for me.

Holt coming back to the bar was obvious from the get-go, but it showed that the Nine-Nine always has each other’s back. There is never a question of betrayal about them, and though this plot could have taken place during any other adventure, it works here because it reminds us that despite being “best friends” with Doug, Jake’s closest friendships will always be with the Nine-Nine.

While the drinking story was not terribly fraught with character revelations, just hanging with the Nine-Nine is fun enough. Boyle’s speech before vomiting was excellent. I love when a director takes advantage of the camera’s ability to affect the tone of a scene in a sitcom like this. Moving the camera in and shooting at that slightly low angle gave the speech the cinematic weight they couldn’t have accomplished with just words, and even though I saw the punch line coming a mile away, due to the sweeping music and camera work it still landed for me.

We also got a small peek behind Rosa’s mind. She presents herself as cold, and frankly, she is, but we have seen time and time again that certain things matter to her, and it was an interesting tidbit that Rosa was the one calling and asking for Holt to come back. Her base line emotions make her the most likely to feel that Holt doesn’t care about them, as Amy and Boyle would never feel this way and Hitchcock and Sculley don’t care.

Asides from the feeling of ownership of the bar, all the Nine-Nine are competitive which helps to fuel their desire to win. I wish we would have been able to see them actually go toe to toe with the fire department instead of just sitting at their own table and drinking separately, but as a B plot, particularly regarding Doug Judy and Jake’s relationship elsewhere, this one did the job.

Yet I can’t help but feel we need an episode with the whole gang working together. Every episode this season has seen the team divided, involved in plots that are (mostly) completely unrelated. Gina’s episode was the closest we’ve gotten to seeing the team together, but since it was so focused on Gina (as it should have been!), it didn’t play as an ensemble episode. I hope we get to see the entire team work together again soon.

The show is still funny, though. On the whole, the jokes were flying left and right tonight. It felt like not thirty seconds could go by without a solid line. Six seasons in I don’t feel the humor has slipped. Moments like the Trudy Judy Booty Duty rhyming come so naturally, and humor builds off previous adventures, like Jake singing karaoke and contacting Judy through his mother, but still remain funny even if, like Jake, you confuse or can’t remember every episode.

As the first episode after the departure of Gina, Brooklyn Nine-Nine felt like Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I thought someone might mention her at the bar when they said they only had six people, but the show has to move on. So far so good.

Other Great Thoughts:

  • I never thought Judy was dead for a second, but he still got that over on Jake this episode.
  • Philly callouts! Cheesesteaks and hoagies. Delicious.
  • 1000 push-ups was another nice callback.
  • Another small gripe – Holt hating the “Nine-Nine!” toast. I feel like this would have been an appropriate reaction from him in season two, or even if he was in a terrible mood and reverted back to his older ways as he sometimes does, but this far in? He loves these people enough to drink for them, it feels to me he’d have warmed up to the Nine-Nine chant by now.
  • Trudy Judy, “I’ll see you at Christmas, sucker!” What a great line. Family is family! Gotta be home for the holidays, even if you’re evading the police. Good on you, Trudy Judy.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review – Return of the Jimmy Jab Games (7×04)

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine The Jimmy Jab Games II Review

Sequels to popular or eventful sitcom episodes are really difficult. In general, sequels seem to require an upping of the ante. In sitcoms, where the stakes are generally pretty low, the form that upping of the ante often takes is in the form of increasing the absurdity of the situations.

So, all in all, it’s tough to follow up on successful episodes like “The Jimmy Jab Games.”

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has defied all odds with its “Halloween Heist” series, turning the heist episodes into an event each year. These episodes work precisely because these are the episodes where most logic of police work is thrown out the window – literally. In-universe, Halloween has become the day where even Captain Holt is willing to smash through office windows with a chair. The audience can excuse this increase in absurdity due to the combination of the characters themselves being aware of their insanity and the status as an event the Halloween Heists hold.

The Jimmy Jab games don’t possess that status nor do they excuse the characters going all-out, so instead of increasing absurdity “The Jimmy Jab Games II” attempts to increase the external stakes, and the games themselves end up getting a bit lost.

Holt and Rosa start the games off competing most directly against each other as Holt wants the day off to spend with his husband and Rosa wants the day off for an unknown reason. What immediately strikes me as off about this storyline is that the Nine-Nine crew is, by nature, incredibly competitive; there have been literally dozens of episodes in the past (like the Halloween episodes) where characters wanted to win a competition just to be the best.

Rosa’s motivation for wanting the day off so she can deal with her feelings from her recent breakup is believable but not impacted by the games in any way. I’m not even entirely convinced the prize being a day off works here, as I’m not sure why a day off is better than the weekend is, and if it’s something Rosa needs badly for her mental health I find it hard to believe she wouldn’t just take the day off anyway.

Holt’s display of friendship is very sweet, but of course we already know how close Holt is to these people. I would have liked to see this play out differently so we had more time to spend with Holt as Rosa’s friend, for his relationships with the crew are different now that he is no longer their captain. How does his new status allow for closer relationships with his crew? That’s the kind of character exploration I would like to see with this plot change, and I think this is a missed opportunity.

Jake makes a stupid bet with Hitchcock over the games; if Jake wins Hitchcock does his paperwork for a year, if Hitchcock wins Jake gives him his car. Jake makes this bet in front of Amy and Amy takes it way better than I think she should.

It’s one thing if Jake makes a bet like this when they’re dating or married, but when trying to have a child Jake is going to risk a hugely valuable asset and Amy isn’t going to go completely nuts? Jake’s bet here is beyond his regular childishness, and a stretch too far for me. His motivation is decent; he’s afraid he’s becoming boring as an adult, but that could have been an explanation for his desire to play the games without a bet. The bet does nothing.

Hitchcock doping to win through Scully’s pills though, that’s pretty great, as is their final competition where both Jake and Hitchcock are barely holding it together.

My issue with all of this is that these motivations actually lessen the stakes of the games. By nature, the Jimmy Jab games are stupid fun, and by highlighting the characters’ natural competitiveness through them they become a great avenue for some crazy hijinks.

Placing so much significance on these bets or prizes actually devalues the games themselves. The games seem trivial compared to Rosa’s breakup and Jake’s insane potential forfeit of his car.

I imagine a version of this episode where all motivations remain the same, but the competition itself is used as the avenue to express these motivations. Rosa, upset over her breakup, finds a wonderful distraction in the Jimmy Jab games, so she puts her all in trying to win. Someone may ask her if she plans to use the day off with her girlfriend, to which she can reply that she doesn’t care about the day off at all she just wants to win, or maybe she even says nothing but the notion clearly gets to her. Holt notices her demeanor and figures out that Rosa is going through a breakup and offers to stay by her side. Maybe he even lets Rosa win in a similar manner that Jake let Amy win during the first games, revealing that Rosa’s distraction is more important to him than being the victor.

Amy and Terry both leave, and Jake incites the games without them present. Jake’s initially nervous Holt will say something but Holt is excited to participate since he is no longer captain and loves competition. Amy and Terry return, angry that Jake slacked when he was in charge, and he explains to Amy exactly what he does in the current run; that he’s afraid he’s becoming boring and wants to remain fun.

These games should be the platform for which these motivations are explored. “The Jimmy Jab Games II” instead uses the games as a backdrop. Rosa could have fought for a day off in many different plot lines, as could Jake have made a stupid bet. This episode didn’t need to be Jimmy Jab for these storylines, which is why it doesn’t totally work.

Boyle and Debbie, on the other hand, totally work. In both Boyle and Debbie’s cases, the Jimmy Jab games provide them an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have. Boyle gets a chance to be the greatest showman. He relishes the opportunity to lead the games. He doesn’t get the chance to be ring leader often, not on most cases and definitely not during the Halloween Heists, so the Jimmy Jab games are the perfect platform for him to express this side of himself.

Boyle is also the perfect person to get through to Debbie. Boyle doesn’t ignore or look down on anyone, so his desire to bring Debbie into the fold is genuine. His outgoing personality is also a great match for her lack of confidence, and because Boyle is actively practicing what he is preaching this episode, it’s effective.

Debbie gets a chance to step out of her comfort zone, and it leads to her finally taking things into her own hands to go after her sister’s killer (I believe it was her sister’s killer, I apologize if I’m misremembering).

For these two characters the Jimmy Jab Games provide a platform to express themselves. I just wish this was the case for the rest of the cast.

Other Great Thoughts:

  • I started my notes off with an “always great when they compete with each other” note, but sadly this episode didn’t actually turn out to be about the competition.
  • How did Debbie become a police officer? She’s antidextrous and I can’t imagine they went over too well.
  • Debbie’s line reading of “That’s impossible you’re so suave” to Boyle is immaculate.
  • Loved how the score played up Rosa’s monologue about wanting to be accepted by her parents. Music can enhance comedy, too.
  • I was left unaffected by Jake falling out of the ceiling since we’ve seen that happen to Jake before. The joke pays off when the ceiling falls on him, though, so it works, and that I did laugh at.
  • The police are really loose regarding the use of drugs in this episode. I feel this would work better in the Halloween episodes where all logic is thrown to the curb.

Debbie makes the creepiest villain ever. I know she isn’t actually a villain, but there is something really unsettling about her demeanor mixed with doing something super serious. I love this tonal mix – it’s something only Brooklyn Nine-Nine can pull off, and I hope they go all-in on it.

However, I have my concerns because Debbie hasn’t really interacted with anyone outside of Holt and Boyle (a little with Jake, but not much), so the character’s capacity to advance our main characters storylines seems limited. But we’ll see what happens!

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review – Return of Pimento! (7×03)

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine Pimemento Review

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has its fair share of memorable recurring roles – Doug Judy, the Vulture, and of course Adrian Pimento, who returns in “Pimemento.” Part of what makes a good recurring role is a character (and actor) who can bring something fresh to the series that prompts something new from our standard characters.

“Pimemento” attempts to use Pimento to incite conflict between Jake and Boyle, and while it succeeds in creating that conflict, there is little to no tension that comes from it. Of course, Boyle and Jake’s friendship isn’t truly at stake, not over something as simple as Jake not telling Boyle that he and Amy are trying for a kid. Even Boyle, who would take this secret as an act of betrayal far beyond what most characters in media would, isn’t going to let it seriously threaten his unique and valuable friendship with Jake.

Fortunately, the episode has two weapons that nearly nullify the effect of the lack of real stakes. Firstly, Pimento has become enough of a character in his own right that his presence on the series isn’t necessarily just to incite conflict on the characters around him. I’m invested in Pimento and his health, so the fact that he’s in danger and we don’t know who is after him is enough of a draw to keep the story rolling.

Secondly, a lot of the conflict in Jake and Boyle’s storyline comes not from Jake keeping his secret, but from Jake’s personal struggle with avoiding Boyle and Boyle’s disappointment of not hanging with his best friend.

Boyle’s comment that he’s mostly upset that they haven’t hung out in weeks is the true sting in this storyline, and it’s the sort of issue that real friends go through. By trying to keep Amy happy, Jake accidentally cut Boyle too far out of his life and hurt his friend. Boyle will, of course, forgive Jake, but it’s understandable that Boyle would be hurt by this and want to explain his feelings.

So while this plotline doesn’t soar, it provides an adequate vehicle for the episode and keeps me invested, despite the lack of threat to any relationships.

The B-plot of the episode somewhat mirrors this by having the Nine-Nine devolve into bickering children after a workplace conflict seminar. Everyone has petty grievances with each other – from the way they chew to how often they talk about their children. Again, there are no real stakes here because we know the Nine-Nine isn’t going to let these petty grievances come between each other, and Rosa states as much by the end of the plot.

Yet it dovetails nicely with the A-plot by showing us what sort of grievances we should let go (minor secrets and improperly finishing each other’s sentences), and which issues we need to discuss (when a friend is actively hurting our feelings). I’m not sure how intentional that message is considering the focus of the parallels is on conflict itself and not on the type of conflicts, but it’s still a message I can draw from the episode and I think these plots fit nicely together.

Pimento is a great recurring character who brings a lot of energy to the screen. I’m a little disappointed by how relatively plain this episode is considering a lot of Pimento’s previous appearances, but the “Finding Dory” style memory loss leads to some fantastic moments of what I’m going to call “verbal slapstick,” including Pimento screaming in multiple random locations and forgetting what tables are.

The rescue on the side of the building, however, seems a bit off to me. I’m not a cop and have no training in scaling buildings, but I would assume that everyone gripping arms to shuffle off the side of the building would be bad form because if one of you falls, you all fall, no? There is no narrative link to the physical linking of arms (outside of maybe Boyle and Jake reclaiming their friendship, but it is never really threatened, as stated earlier), so I can’t imagine this is needed from a story standpoint, and it just made me question the intelligence of the move.

All in all, though, “Pimemento” is a fine episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Other Great Thoughts:

  • I was also hoping Pimento’s actual reappearance on screen would be a little more dramatic, especially after his excellent screaming for Jake and Boyle.
  • A seminar that is boring to Amy??? That tells you everything. I always love when a show weighs situations again its characters’ traits. It provides a bar for the audience and keeps the characters feeling alive.
  • Loved Pimento correcting Jake on Nolan’s first film, especially since he has never seen Memento.
  • Obviously, since Jake has been avoiding him, putting Jake and Boyle on a case together is the easiest way to incite conflict into this situation. Using Pimento as the catalyst for the reveal is much more unique, and it very much keeps Jake’s character intact. Jake would never tell someone else before Boyle (Rosa was told by Amy), so Jake feeling free to tell Pimento because of his memory loss allows the conflict to unfold while keeping Jake in character.
  • There is something very creepy about doctors doing harm, even in a show as fun as Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
  • Love when Boyle gets to be a detective and take out some bad guys.
  • The ending tag is one of my favorite tags of the entire series.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review – Lots of Changes in the Nine-Nine (7×01 & 7×02)

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine Manhunter Review

Brooklyn Nine-Nine returns for its seventh season and immediately begins dealing with the fallout from Holt’s demotion at the end of season six. Captain Holt is no longer captain of the Nine-Nine and is working under Jake, and, as expected, this isn’t a smooth transition.

The opening sequences to both premiere episodes, “Manhunter” and “Captain Kim,” are excellent. They both manage to hit that sweet spot of tone where the intensity of police work is present but undercut with the characters’ goofiness.

“Manhunter” features an assassination attempt, prompting Jake to get excited over the chance at hunting down the assassin, and “Captain Kim” opens with the team arresting a criminal while having a casual work conversation about their new captain.

These openings don’t just succeed on a tonal level, but an expositional one. Since Brooklyn Nine-Nine often deals with investigations, exposition is often needed to bring the viewers up to speed with the plot. The briefings the team has are an adequate way to get this information across, but the ways these plots are set up in the openings of these episodes are much more fun than the regular briefing room exposition dump.

“Manhunter” doesn’t quite continue its momentum. An assassination attempt is a very serious situation, and little time is actually afforded to lend it the gravity that it should have. Other episodes such as “Show Me Going” in season five lend serious situations more gravity, and while much of the charm of Brooklyn Nine-Nine comes from making light of intense situations, Terry’s original exclamation of the attempt seemed to dictate an expected level of drama. The fact that the shooter remains active also lends to a sense of urgency that isn’t quite followed up on with the character drama – Holt’s in particular.

Essentially, Holt’s storyline here did not need an assassination attempt to be effective. In fact, I think a lighter plot line would have helped improve this story as Holt’s feelings of uselessness would have been compounded.

“Captain Kim” highlights exactly what I mean with its opening scene. As the crew arrests the criminal, Holt is bored outside trying to shoo a pigeon away. We need no further explanation to his feelings of uselessness than this image, and it’s funny to boot.

“Manhunter” doesn’t accomplish this feat quite as well due to several factors, all stemming from the plot line of the episode.

Jake is frustrated that Holt is overstepping his bounds and taking command of the situation and assigns him with a false lead to get him out of the way. Jake loves the big moment, without a doubt, but seven seasons in we have learned that Jake is willing to sacrifice that moment if it means getting the job done. I can believe that Jake would send Holt on a goose chase during a less intense crime, like a robbery, but Jake has matured too much to risk letting an assassin escape. He knows the value of teamwork and what Holt can bring to the table, so pushing Holt to the side in this particular plot line felt like a major regression for Jake.

I absolutely think this storyline works when surrounded by a smaller plot. Jake would absolutely get jealous of Holt taking his moment and Holt would definitely overstep if it meant feeling he was still in control. I assume the larger plot point is used here to set Jake up for the major hero moment that he so desires, but I believe they could have set that payoff up better if the situation wasn’t so active and dangerous because Jake’s growth is sacrificed here.

However, Hitchcock and Scully to the rescue is great. Of course these two would know every hot dog vendor in New York. I love when character specific traits are used so naturally within a storyline. I didn’t think of either of them when the hot dog cart is mentioned since hot dogs are so common in New York, but their hero moment is natural and deserved, and it’s always fun to see them shine.

Amy and Rosa spend the episode trying to get Amy to take a pregnancy test. This is a fine B-plot, but again, it isn’t dependent on the assassination plot line and could have fit in nearly anywhere. That’s not a criticism of the B-plot, just an observation and statement that I feel this would have fit in nicely with a smaller plot line as well.

“Captain Kim” is the stronger half of the premiere. All of the characters are on display (except Rosa, who took the weekend off) because each of their personalities is reflected at Captain Kim’s party.

Amy finds an organizational genius, Hitchcock and Scully get to sit in great chairs, and Terry has to interview for elementary school while avoiding eating food from a caterer he put into prison for ten years. Great character beats all around, and while it is low stakes, it’s a lot of fun.

My biggest complaint about “Captain Kim” is that Captain Kim is too perfect. She’s unrelatable and doesn’t feel much like a character because of it. She feels designed to make us think she is up to something, but when we learn she isn’t we are just left with a flat character. I felt little sympathy for Captain Kim upon her request to leave the Nine-Nine because she doesn’t feel real (and also because she’s so perfect she’ll definitely land on her feet somewhere).

Captain Kim didn’t need any glaring flaws, just less perfection. She has a dog, and that’s fine, but why does the dog have to have been saved from a fighting ring? That’s just adding more and more sainthood to a character that already proved to be righteous, and it helps to push her into caricature territory.

Holt and Jake’s mutual distaste for their new captain, though – well that’s great Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Their dislike for her stems from different places, each very consistent with their characters. Jake doesn’t trust anyone that seems perfect due to his parents’ divorce and his mother’s subsequent relationships, and Holt feels Captain Kim has taken everything from him.

Holt’s monologue about losing his chosen family is fantastic. It’s another great example of mixing exposition into a script, and while this is super over the top, that’s why it works. The incredible detail that Holt goes into doesn’t just provide us an explanation for his feelings, but tells us something new about Holt. Of course, we already know he feels the Nine-Nine is his family, but we learn here that he has thought about this deeply. This explanation contains the sort of detail and dramaticism that can only be found in our thoughts while looking at the black ceiling in the middle of the night. Poor Holt.

Boyle’s jacket is the final ingredient of “Captain Kim,” and it is probably one of my favorite subplots on the show the last few years. It’s a bit cliche, with the lame guy becoming cool for an episode, but Boyle is always so. . .Boyle, that it’s a lot of fun to see him act like a badass. Joe Lo Truglio actually sort of pulls off the cool vibe. I’m impressed he’s able to do that because I’m so used to seeing him as Boyle instead of Chuck, the badass version.

Overall, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is off to a fine start, if not a particularly impressive one. While Jake’s character seems to have regressed a bit in “Manhunter,” that seems to mostly be due to a mismatch of storyline and plot line instead of any misunderstanding of or poor writing of the character. The second episode proves that each character is still fully intact. Jake’s trust issues and Holt’s pettiness are still integral parts of their characters without becoming overblown, and I look forward to seeing where their new dynamic takes us this season as the power change should show us new facets of each of them.

Other Great Thoughts:

  • I am a little mixed on Debbie. I loved some of her lines and wasn’t sold on others, but in the end I wouldn’t be against her showing up again.
  • Terry being gaslighted by her daughters is a storyline that needs no visual representation to be hilarious.
  • I like that Holt and Jake’s positions are reversed in “Manhunter” with Jake giving orders and Holt disobeying, but I feel the entire focus of an episode should center around that reversal, and this one really didn’t. It splits its focus too much between Holt feeling useless and Jake wanting his moment.
  • I’m not a fan of baby storylines, so I’m sort of dreading Jake and Amy having one. They’ve been a great television couple and despite being literal new life, babies are often the death of interesting storylines.
  • Holt and Jake working together is always more fun than when they are at odds (in my opinion), so “Captain Kim” was a nice way to push them back together after “Manhunter.”
  • I am really disappointed Captain Kim didn’t get more development, because her reasoning for joining the Nine-Nine is believable, relatable, and human. It’s too bad she is so flat as a character because her departure could have been really affecting.

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