I'd heard good things about Brooklyn 99 but I have to admit, I was dubious. Most of the people involved have never cropped up on my radar before, apart from Andy Samberg and Terry Crews, both of whom I like but neither of whom I feel have a particularly great track record. Crews is best known (by me) for his work in ads, whilst Samberg consistently disappoints. I was (and remain) a big fan of the Lonely Island, but I can't say any of his films have come close to being enjoyable. On top of which, I'd heard a lot of people comparing the show to The Office, a series which I've famously been unable to get through a single episode of (tbc, I'm talking about the UK version; I've never seen the US one).
I can definitely see the Office comparison. There's something about the way the camera moves around that feels similar, but importantly the camera isn't "there" from the perspective of the actors, so you don't get the fourth-wall-breaking. Other than that, though, the show very much exceeded expectations. Not only is Samberg actually very funny (even if he does pull a few too many stupid faces), he's backed up by a brilliant and diverse cast. The characters themselves are interesting, too, as are the plot lines. There's plenty of police action, but it stays firmly grounded as a workplace comedy, not a procedural.
Core to everything is the character of Raymond Holt, who plays a sublimely ridiculous control freak. The strange pseudo-love triangle that rapidly comes to exist between Jake, Amy, and Holt is a surprisingly clever gimmick, though I do feel that Holt himself could stand to be toned down just a touch. Even the blossoming romance between our new Ross'n'Rachel fits nicely and isn't overly irritating. In fact, the rooftop scene is actually quite sweet. Despite having a fantastic group of comedians, somehow the writers have decided to make their characters realistic and human (and humane, to boot). Who'd have thought that would work so well 😏
Though, of course, they're not above slapstick. The walking prat-falls of Scully and Hitchcock are excellent comedy diversions, as are the quite brilliant opening skits, and of course the whole Boyle-gets-shot-in-the-ass thing is surprisingly funny. Actually, I found both Boyle and Gina quite interesting, in that they're ostensibly imbeciles designed purely for comedy hijinks, yet they somehow come out of the season with emotional resonance. Honestly, at the very start I was convinced Boyle would just be irritating, but I really quite like him. His honest relationship with Jake works very well.
Actually, honest relationships is something the show excels in. Again, the characters just feel like genuinely good people, trying to do the right thing. They aren't superheroes or incredible Holmesian detectives, but they know right from wrong and they do the best they can. That's actually pretty refreshing and makes in a surprisingly funny, nuanced, and well-written comedy. I'm excited to see where it goes.