Brooklyn Nine-Nine is back and, aside from the fact that it’s now on Sunday nights, it hasn’t really missed a step. The amazing cast of supporting players keep the show in the “must see” zone while Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta still drags things down a bit with his ham-handedness. Don’t get me wrong, Samberg’s a big talent and is quite capable in the role, it’s just that his part is routinely written to be dumber and slightly less functional than his colleagues. Granted, this is an imbalance that has improved vastly since the first few episodes of Season 1, but it still remains (albeit at a much more tenable level).
The season premiere, entitled “Undercover,” starts off with Jake finishing off a multi-month undercover sting operation after infiltrating the local mafia. Soon enough, his broad mouthed speech at one of the members’ weddings is interrupted by a Nine-Nine sting operation that effectively brings him back into the fold. Upon his return to the station he’s quickly brought up to speed on the events of the past few months (which amount to three quick, but very funny gags) and resumes his “will they or won’t they” flirtation with Melissa Fumero’s Detective Santiago. Fumero remains great in this role. Her comic timing, drive, and vulnerability continue to shine though.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Jeffords (Terry Crews) has been cajoled by Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) into assuming the identities of various possible citizen precinct interlopers for drill purposes. His only tools? The dry-erase board hanging around his neck identifying the subject he’s playing and a stiff script from Captain Holt. This provides a nice running scenario that grates on everyone in the office, including Fumero although she finds herself unable to stand up to it for longer than 3 or 4 seconds. More surprisingly, Detective Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) and Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti) actually hooked up during the hiatus. As in… had sex, a territory I wasn’t necessarily expecting the show to go in with these two but it provided the most consistent laugh ratio out of all of the episode’s set-ups.
Meanwhile just as Jake thinks he’s out… they pull him back in. His undercover sting operation is resurrected, a development that leads to the first big cameo of the season with a welcome appearance from Jenny Slate. The big frustration with these excursions of Peralta’s is that all of the laughs pretty much stem from his incompetence, which would be fine if not for the fact that this happens almost 100% of the time. I know it’s probably more difficult to wring laughs out of someone succeeding at any given task but I wish they’d nudge the needle in that direction more often.
All in all not much has changed in terms of overall quality since the final stretch of Season 1, which is a good thing. Brooklyn Nine Nine is one of my favorite half-hour shows and its nice to see that it continues to keep up the great stride they hit last year after a bumpy start. It’s a series that manages to be both acerbic and sweet, and it always balances those elements out in the right proportions.