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TV That Matters: ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’ Christmas Episode

By John Thomas Columnist


My fans, I’m sure some of you are expecting a year-in-review column this week or next, but I’ve decided to forgo that critics’ convention until May. However, next week will still be a special column. In the first half, I’ll be pointing out a variety of different new shows you can stream on break, and in the second half, I’ll suggest a few television related gifts you can pick up on the fly for whichever holiday you celebrate.

Today, I’m checking back in with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” one of my favorite shows of the year thus far, and one that I truly believe will become part of the pop cultural canon.

Were you late to the game on “Arrested Development” or “Parks and Recreation”? Did you find out who Pigly was after all of your friends were already tired of that joke? Did not a single person attend your Leap Day party because they already had one a couple of years back, that wasn’t as fun as you thought it would be, so why would they go to your half-assed party this year? Well, then, I would suggest getting on with your life first, and then checking out “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

In pretty much every way, it’s a stronger first season than “Parks and Recreation” and even “30 Rock.” While I wouldn’t say it quite rivals the heights reached by “Archer” and “Arrested Development,” it definitely could in the future. I say this because the cast has already gelled together in such a sublime way by this week’s Christmas episode, that the writers would really have to mess up for that to not be the case.

Some of my contemporaries strongly disagree with me on this, but I think “Christmas” is Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s first truly great episode. Brooklyn plays within classic sitcom conventions, not the mockumentary style of a lot of critically acclaimed sitcoms that are on the air today, and I think that that structure is its greatest technical strength.

This episode, and the previous Thanksgiving centric one, is explicitly aware of that. Peralta handcuffs himself to Holt early in the episode, and it is shot as if the director was saying, “Look at this plot point, this is important, here is the premise of this episode, right here, what just happened, that’s it, that’s what we’re going with.” Some might take that as a lazy way to advance the plot, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. In fact, it was that shot and not even the wonderful “This is the true meaning of Christmas” line delivered by Andy Samberg that made me laugh the hardest during this twenty-two minute episode that was filled with just excellent, hilarious gags.

Most importantly though, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has quickly crafted a community both on-screen and off, and that’s allowed it to feel like a much older show than its eleven episode count would suggest. I wasn’t that big of a fan of Joe Lotruglio’s Detective Boyle at the beginning of the series, which was surprising because I’m longtime fan of Joe Lotruglio himself.

Boyle seemed malformed and on one note, he wanted to date Rosa, mainly because he was sycophantic to the rest of his detectives. He still wants to date Rosa, and he’s still a sycophant, but the writers have taken that quality and extrapolated it into the innocent, tender and, both socially and physically, pratfall prone grown-up Family Circus character that Detective Doyle is.

You just have to check out this show. Do yourself a favor and stream it on Hulu as soon as possible. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is one of those shows that you’re probably going to make friends over, whether on Tumblr or in real life.


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