Brooklyn Nine-Nine Returns with the Very Funny “Safe House”

Image result for brooklyn nine-nine safe house

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been off the air for what feels like forever now (the last episode aired back in December), but it returned in top form with “Safe House,” which found Jake and Holt’s husband, Kevin, locked together in a safe house for two months. This premise had a lot going for it, especially the largely untapped pairing of Jake and Kevin. We got a taste of their potential way back in season one’s “The Party” (to this day one of my absolute favorite episodes), and they definitely delivered here. From the episode-long Nic Cage gag to the pepperoni exchange that showed just how well Kevin got to know Jake during their time together, everything involving these two was pure gold.

It would have been easy for Jake’s conversations with Kevin to feel pretty similar to his with Holt, but leaning into Jake’s love of pop culture and Kevin’s of academia stopped that from happening. The funniest moment of the episode for me was Kevin asking Holt if he knew what a clapback was, something that wouldn’t have been possible if he hadn’t been, well, lying on the floor listening to Jake talk about pop culture for two months.

It’s a testament to how strong this episode was that the other elements weren’t completely overshadowed by what happened in the safe house. It helped that this was one of the usually pretty good single case episodes, so no one was off too far on their own. Everyone played their part perfectly in the cold open, and Stephanie Beatriz’s work in the beauty parlor was especially hilarious. I always love when she gets to do something totally different on this show, and the little moments where she let Rosa peek throughthe slightly terrified “I’ve always wondered what I’d look like as a blonde!”were pitch perfect. This was also a fun return to form for Gina and proved exactly how useful she can be to the team.

I felt like the precinct bit (I don’t know if it really qualifies as a C-story), with Amy, Terry, Scully, and Hitchcock piecing together documents could have used maybe one more scene to reach maximum potential, but I also don’t know that you could have done much more with it than having Scully be surprisingly useful and having Terry convince himself that “Apache” was a likely word. Plus, it worked out nicely that both teams provided valuable intel in the end, regardless of how much screen time they got.

Since it was his husband’s life on the lineas he pointed out numerous timesit made sense that this was a big episode for Holt as well. I don’t want to say it was nice exactly, but it was definitely appropriate that Holt was a little on edge here, particularly when it led to the humorously low-key “vicious fight” between him and Kevin. Zany as it is, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is always sure to add in at least one 100% believable moment, and this episode it came with Kevin telling Raymond that he might not have a husband when it was all over. Not only did that show the realistic strain on their marriage, it also led to Jake talking about how many failed marriages he’s witnessed, a beat that was poignant in the way his conversations with Holt often are.

Of course, because it is Nine-Nine, we got a happy ending here, with Kevin saving both himself and Jake and Holt from Seamus Murphy thanks to a well-timed throat punch. This felt like the right time to end this storyline, too; there were real repercussions to Holt getting Jake and Rosa out of jail, but next week we get to go back to business as usual. And presumably, the lead up to those long-awaited Santiago/Peralta nuptials.

What did you think of “Safe House?” And more importantly, yay or nay on Rosa keeping that perm? Hit the comments, and let me know!

Advertisements

2017 in Review: TV That Made Me Happy

Related image

I don’t think anyone will call 2017 the greatest year on record. Because of that, I found myself drawn to good, escapist TV even more than usual this year, seeking shows and stories that would make me happy above all else. With the generally horrific state of our country, TV was both a refuge and frankly, a reason to get up in the morning, making me especially grateful for its existence. Here are are some TV things that made me happy this year:

The idealism of Madam Secretary

There’s a lot I love about Madam Secretary: it’s feminist, it lets its characters be happy, and it features what’s currently my favorite marriage on television. And, impressively, it’s politically relevant while still feeling escapist. M Sec takes place a few years in the future, which allows it to comment on current happenings—fake news, for instance—but with a happier outcome. The promise of what could be gave me some much, much-needed fuel this year.

Supergirl‘s Lena Luthor

I think everyone has a handful of fictional characters they just flat-out love, even if they can’t quite explain why. This year, Lena became one of mine. It’s not that I relate to her necessarily; she’s got a tragic backstory, her best friend is Supergirl, and someone tries to kill her at least once a week. It’s more that she’s such a fully realized character—thanks in no small part to Katie McGrath’s performance—that I can’t help but both root for and admire her. Plus, she’s just a fun character to watch: fierce, funny, self-deprecating, and insanely good at her job.

Heartfelt comedy

The same way I like my TV escapist, I like my comedy heartfelt, and that was especially true this year. I certainly enjoy the occasional piece of cynical comedy, but Parks and Rec isn’t my favorite show of all time for nothing. Luckily, 2017 offered a whole host of shows that would make Leslie and Co. proud: the wonderfully specific Speechless, the consistently warm  Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and the already sweetly hopeful The Mayor.

The fierce females of Legends of Tomorrow

I love the term “badass lady,” but its meaning is often reduced to “literally kicks a lot of ass.” The ladies of Legends, Sara, Amaya, and Zari, do that—and man is it fun to watch—but they’re also leaders and strategists, as well as empathetic and caring people. There are various types of badass-ness, and I took just as much pleasure in watching Sara captain the Waverider as I did her honest conversation with Alex Danvers about lost loves.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I maintain that AOS is one of the best shows no one’s watching—not even one of the best superhero shows, just one of the best shows. Last season’s third “pod” of episodes, which found Team S.H.I.E.L.D. trapped in a computer simulation, was one of the tensest, most heart-wrenching series of episodes from any of my shows last year. What’s more, this season’s first few episodes have somehow kicked it up a notch, with a truly great premiere episode reveal that left the gang in a terrifying dystopia on…well, I won’t spoil it.

A genuinely lighter Grey’s Anatomy 

I’ll admit I was very skeptical when the creatives at Grey’s promised this season would hearken back to the show’s slightly less angsty, significantly more fun glory days, but I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong. This fall, the show wrapped up relationship drama that had long grown stale, hit character beats I’ve been waiting forever for, and delivered a beautifully nostalgic 300th episode that reminded me exactly why this show is still on the air.

Late night comedy

I don’t know that this made me happy, per say, but it did make me feel understood and because of that was even more essential to my sanity this year than last. This was a mind-numbingly sad year in a lot of ways, but watching the likes of Meyers, Colbert, Bee, Oliver, and even Kimmel shake their heads in disbelief reminded me that this isn’t normal, and we can’t let it become so. Gallows humor also played a big role in 2017; sometimes you have to laugh for a second before you can pick yourself up and do something.

A creative resurgence for The Flash

Like with Grey’s, my hopes weren’t high that The Flash would actually be able to rediscover the fun of its excellent first season, but this season has struck the perfect balance of hilarious and high stakes. As their first non-speedster villain, The Thinker has proven to be an original and formidable opponent for Team Flash, and the show’s epic fall finale cliffhanger has me counting down the days ’til its return.

Shows that take risks

My two favorite shows on the air right now are Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Good Place, two shows that couldn’t be further from one other in regards to plot, setting, tone, etc. However, they both have one thing in common: they surprise me at every turn. I don’t want to spoil for those who haven’t watched, but The Good Place has redefined itself countless times in its first two seasons, supremely confident that its viewers could make the leaps required. Meanwhile, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend offers smart, funny, genre-defying storytelling week after week while also meditating on mental illness and the female experience. As a student of TV, watching these shows take risks no one else is taking has been an unmitigated delight.

A bloodless May

Every TV fan has a love/hate relationship with the month of May: sweeps are awesome, but May brings with it the possible renewals and dreaded cancellations of your favorite shows. However, this May, for the first time ever, every single one of my shows got renewed. I’m unfortunately drawn to shows consistently on the bubble, so I’m not expecting it to happen again anytime soon, but it certainly made me happy this year.

A truly great Once Upon a Time “requel”

With more than half of its cast leaving last season, I went into this seventh season of OUAT completely expecting to be disappointed. Imagine my surprise when I actually loved the first half of this season. I genuinely like the new characters, the storytelling has been familiar but refreshing, and, most impressively, the writers found a way to keep Emma and Killian happy despite Jennifer Morrison’s departure. Plus, though not part of this season’s “requel,” last season’s wedding/musical extravaganza and truly lovely finale managed to hit all the right notes, giving my favorite past characters the perfect sendoff.

GLOW

The first ten episodes of this show were pure joy: fizzy, feminist, and funny, it offered nuanced portrayals of a whole host of female characters, all badasses in their own way. Each episode flew by, a crackerjack of a story that fed into a smartly plotted and wholly entertaining first season. This was one of the most confident introductions to a show in recent memory, and binging it was one of my favorite TV experiences of all time, not just in 2017.

Your turn! What TV things made you happy this year? Hit the comments, and let me know!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review: The Squad Celebrates Their 99th Episode

Image result for brooklyn nine-nine 99th episode

I really, really love milestone episodes of TV shows, especially because everyone has a different way of approaching them. Some go the big event route, with a wedding or some other momentous occasion. Others take the approach Nine-Nine did this week, with a relatively low key storyline that nonetheless represented everything I love about the show. I tend to prefer the latter approach, especially when it’s done as well as it was here.

Of course, instead of celebrating the traditional 100th episode, B99 made their 99th outing the big one. And even though it technically did include an event—the funeral of the squad’s former C.O.—that was more the jumping off point for the episode than the focus.

That doesn’t mean it didn’t feel special, though. It took the entire team outside of Brooklyn, something we’re only occasionally treated to. It kept the squad together for a single storyline, which always lets the fantastic cast play off each other for maximum hilarity. It also gave every single character a moment to shine. So like I said, completely representative of everything great about this show.

For Amy, the funeral pictures made her amusingly aware of her Type A tendencies, sending her on a quest to be more laid back. As hilarious as it was watching her try to be chill as things went further and further off the rails, even better was her return to glory at the end, coming up with an epic plan to get Holt back to New York in time for his interview.

As he has time and time again in recent seasons, Jake got a chance to show how far he’s come since the pilot, enacting numerous plans before handing the reins to Amy, discovering Holt’s sabotage, and sharing a really wonderful moment with his Captain where he expressed the impact Holt’s had on his life. Most importantly, though, Jake finally learned how to do the worm. Priorities, guys!

Other characters got their time as well, with Boyle’s Texas cousins making an appearance—I died at his “Nice to meet you.” after saying “I love you.” Terry showed off his undying love of luxury as well as his inherent kindness, offering Holt his prized first class mint just before his interview. Hitchcock and Scully were, well, appropriately Hitchcock and Scully, with their claims to fame this episode involving stinking up the RV bathroom and trying to avoid responsibility.

Holt, meanwhile, not only orchestrated nearly every event in the episode in a truly spectacular montage, but also showed the best thing about this show in an episode that honored its many strengths: its sense of family. For Holt, it meant sabotaging his biggest dream—becoming police commissioner—because he’d compromised himself by saving Jake and Rosa. There was a lot to love about that reveal, from Amy figuring out that Holt hadn’t turned down the mob boss’s offer to Jake and Rosa’s instant gratitude. The sweetest, though, was the squad convincing Holt to go after the commissioner job anyway, saying his debt was everyone’s responsibility now. Appropriately, that later led to one of their patented “Nine-Nine!” cheers, without a doubt my favorite way to close an episode of this excellent show.

Other thoughts on “99”:

-When Holt accepted the offer in the premiere, I worried it would hang over the show, negatively affecting its goofy tone. Truthfully, I forgot about it at some point near the start of the season, so that clearly didn’t happen.

-I missed Gina a whole lot here. I know Chelsea Peretti couldn’t have very well ended her maternity leave early for one episode, but I wish they’d paid homage to Gina in some way, especially in such a monumental episode.

-I had to give this its own section because it was so, so wonderful: Rosa’s—I’m not going to say revelation, but rather—confirmation that she’s bi. This was handled beautifully, and Charles made for the perfect confidant, not asking her questions about her sexuality, but instead pestering her about her girlfriend in exactly the same way he has her boyfriends. Stephanie Beatriz was very, very good this episode, and I highly recommend this extremely thoughtful interview with her.

What did you think of Brooklyn‘s 99th outing? Hit the comments, and let me know!

 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review: “Bad Beat”

Image result for brooklyn nine-nine bad beat

Thanks to the World Series, it’s been a couple weeks since we’ve had a new episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Much as I missed the show, the timing of the break worked out nicely. “HalloVeen” was a big, eventful episode, and it was fun to bask in Jake and Amy’s proposal a bit instead of returning to business as usual the next week.

This week, we got a nice engagement reference in the cold open, with Jake asking Boyle to be his best man—sorry, BM—, but it definitely seems like Jake and Amy’s new relationship status isn’t going to shake up the show too much.

The A-story was a great example of Nine-Nine taking a storyline with a high degree of difficulty and making it look easy. Here, they revealed Holt’s gambling addiction, had him both fall off the wagon and get back on it again, and somehow made the entire thing funny and fairly believable. I always enjoy it when Holt takes a break from being the morally superior one because not only does Andre Braugher get to add layers to an already nuanced character, it also lets other people, usually Jake, do the same thing. In this case, he proved he’s no grammar slouch. Amy would be proud!

The B-stories were pretty effective, too, with Boyle and Amy teaming up for a food truck business, of all things. When they started talking about their new venture, it seemed nonsensical, but then I remembered Boyle’s longtime food obsession. I actually really liked the sentiment that one of his passions could turn into something profitable. It was also nice that Amy supported him in it, even if she did, rightfully so, have a few concerns along the way. I like Boyle and Amy storylines because it’s fun to be reminded that the two most important people in Jake’s life are so different. Sidebar for those of you who watch Once Upon a Time, but how random that both shows had a food-truck-used-in-a-crime-scene plot this week?

The other B story, which arguably got the least amount of screentime, was actually my favorite, with Rosa, Hitchcock, and Scully competing to see who could stay sitting the longest. In the past, storylines with these three have largely involved Rosa—like pretty much everyone else in the precinct—mocking Hitchcock and Scully, even if they usually end with a nice moment of some kind. This storyline, though, was pure fun, with Rosa commiserating with the guys throughout the day, coming up with the idea to slide their chairs all the way to the hot dog cart—”The only thing holding us back is society!”—, and ending the competition legitimately respecting them. I love me some stone-cold Rosa Diaz, but it’s also a whole heck of a lot of fun to see her let loose; her genuine grin when riding down the elevator in her chair was adorable.

What did you guys think of “Bad Beat”? Let me know in comments!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review: Jake Plans a Heist of His Own in “HalloVeen”

Image result for brooklyn nine-nine halloveen

Well. That’s going to be hard to top next year.

I have a history of loving Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Halloween episodes, mostly because they’re unapologetically fun in a way that’s becoming rare on television. Sure, they make you suspend your disbelief and would probably feel repetitive if you watched them back-to-back, but as the last four seasons of this show have proven, you can’t go wrong with putting this crazy group of characters in an extreme competition and letting them go wild. It also helps that the Halloween episodes 1) let Holt take off his Captain hat and descend into the madness and 2) allow the characters to be both amusingly and unusually mean to one another.

This year’s heist had a lot of specific things working for it, too, including a great cold open that really told a story and an always welcome appearance by Cheddar. Naturally, said appearance was made by Andre Braugher’s delivery of “This bitch? Please!” as well as “You betrayed me. You’ll explain yourself later.” There were also a couple of nice references to Gina that made her feel a part of things; I’m always glad when shows actually acknowledge an actor or actress’ absence instead of hoping the audience won’t notice. Plus, anyone who follows their high school friends on Facebook can appreciate a good pyramid scheme joke.

Of course, there was one very specific thing this episode had going for it and that’s one of Mike Schur’s patented out of the blue relationship moments. If you watched Parks and Rec—and you may want to avert your eyes if you didn’t—then you’ll know that show was pretty well-known for sneak attack proposals and weddings. Ben and Leslie, for example, didn’t get engaged during a sweeps episode or a premiere or finale. Instead, it happened in an otherwise uneventful episodethe show’s Halloween outing, as it were.

I loved this way of approaching big couple moments on Parks, and specifically this way of approaching proposals, because it mirrors the way those moments go in real life. They don’t have to be, but proposals are oftentimes spontaneous and surprising—especially for the person being proposed to—and slipping a TV proposal in at an unexpected time lets the viewer feel the excitement of that.

Ben and Leslie’s is one of my favorite, if not absolute favorite, TV proposals ever. It’s realistic, romantic, both surprising and completely logical, and very, very them. I feel exactly the same way about Jake and Amy’s.

For one, I loved that it happened during a hugely over-the-top competition; competitiveness has always been a big aspect of their relationship, and they both love the Halloween Heist especially. I loved the proposal’s role reversal, with Jake making an elaborate plan in hopes of actually surprising Amy, the planner and predictor of all things. And I loved the proposal itself, with its hilarious and specific references to their relationship, including “title of your sex tape!”, Jake happily calling Amy the best detective, and their eternal disagreement over Die Hard.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Andy Samberg and Melissa Fumero, who made it feel raw and genuine to the point that I started to wonder if any of it was improvised and who have just generally done a fantastic job of making their characters’ relationship feel realistic and well worth rooting for.

What comes after a big moment like a proposal can often feel anti-climatic, but much to my surprise, the last two minutes of the episode packed a sweet punch as well, with Jake’s awesomely feminist way of asking Amy’s dad for permission and his reveal of when he decided to propose: during a wonderfully normal moment where Amy was arguably at her most Amy. I know I already gave him kudos, but Andy Samberg’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reaction there was absolutely perfect.

I’ve buried the lede, though, because we can all agree that Charles, Jake and Amy’s greatest ‘shipper and champion, actually passing out from enthusiasm was the episode’s, nay, season’s greatest moment.

What did you think of “HalloVeen”? Stoked for the Santiago-Peralta union? Hit the comments, and let me know!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review: Jake and Rosa Take Some “Kicks”

Image result for brooklyn nine-nine season 5 episode 3

This wasn’t Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s funniest episode by a long shot, but it felt like a necessary transition between the first two prison-centric outings and the rest of the season. This was a big, serious thing that happened to Jake and Rosa, and they needed to show the ramifications of it, for Jake professionally and Rosa personally. It’s true that this show prides itself on making Andre Braugher say ridiculous things with a straight face, but it’s also just as good at making its characters feel like real people, and a real person would absolutely be affected by spending six months wrongly incarcerated.

Jake’s reaction wasn’t at all what I expected, but it was wonderfully in character. A different person would have left jail bitter about a system that failed him. Instead, Jake struggled because now he knows exactly how terrible prison is and feels slightly bad about sending people there. It was very Jake to somehow leave a horrible situation a more empathetic person and, as Holt pointed out, a better detective. There was also a nice maturity in Jake’s decision to take a few weeks off when he didn’t have to. That’s not a choice that season one Jake would have made, and it’s always nice to see characters evolve.

I will say that I would have liked Amy to share Jake’s first case back; I feel like it’s been awhile since they’ve had one together, even looking back at the end of last season. Hopefully, we’ll get one in the next couple weeks. Also, while I’m glad Jake and Amy’s relationship is solid enough that they can act like those six months never happened, I’m still hoping for a conversation about that time apart. We got a moment like that when Jake returned from Florida, and it seems even more necessary in this situation.

Rosa’s breakup with Pimento wasn’t directly related to her time in jail, but I do feel like it played a role. I’ve never loved them together, mostly because Pimento feels more like a caricature to me than a real person. Honestly, if they’d sprinkled in a couple more genuine moments throughout, like the one here where he admitted to learning Spanish, I might have liked the guy more. I also think there’s only so many times you can make the “hey, they’re almost having sex in public!” joke before it stops being funny, and I didn’t find it that funny here. I would love to see Rosa in a relationship again because it’s yet another way of letting Stephanie Beatriz show off her range and add nuance to her character. Hopefully next time it’s someone I connect with a bit more than Pimento.

All told, not the funniest episode of Nine-Nine, but one of the more successful ones emotionally.

What did you think of “Kicks”? Hit the comments, and let me know!

 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Finishes Strong in “The Big House Part 2”

Image result for brooklyn nine-nine the big house part 2

I thought Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s season five premiere was good, if a bit tonally weird. I had no such qualms about this episode, where, at long last, the Nine-Nine freed Jake and Rosa.

It certainly helped that the prison scenes were slightly less dark than they were in the first episode; Tim Meadows’ cannibal hung around, but there were a few less overt references to eating kids, which I appreciated. Jake’s time in solitary, as well as his meth, er, blitz experience, also provided some nice levity. His Lion King impression was the funniest non-Holt thing I’ve seen in awhile, and I honestly would have watched another five to ten minutes of it. DVD bonus feature, perhaps?

I’m impressed by how well they developed the cast of characters at the prison, to the point where I wouldn’t mind seeing some of them pop up in a future case. I feel like they barely scratched the surface with Tank, especially. You know that guy’s got a crazy backstory, and it might be fun to have Jake show Amy or Boyle around the prison, relive his not-so-glory days, etc.

Over at the precinct, the team worked together to get Jake and Rosa out, and I was glad for the references to how intensely the team has worked the case since their conviction. Even Hitchcock and Scully mentioned staking out the farm, which was a good indicator of how seriously everyone was taking it. Boyle, of course, would argue he took it the most seriously, what with his true crime podcast. It was very Boyle of him to have such a specific plan, right down to Debra Messing being his first celebrity listener and Sean Hayes the second (TV is really taking advantage of Will and Grace being topical again).

I’ll admit to getting a little emotional over Amy’s willingness to sacrifice her career to free Jake. When the strictest of rule followers is considering that, you know the relationship means something. Going into the first episode, I actually thought one of them might propose when Jake got out of jail. I do still think it’s coming this season, and, at any rate, their reunion was appropriately sweet. I also wouldn’t be an English major if I didn’t mention how much I felt for Amy when she had to tear a page out of a library book.

Finally, it’s not an episode of Nine-Nine without some great Holt moments. His straight man impression is always a delight, particularly the reference to his “female wife.” However, even better was the great little twist at the end that Holt accepted help from a hilariously mobbed up Paul Adelstein after convincing Amy it would ruin her career if she did so. I loved what a totally in-character Captain move it was, knowing it needed to be done to save Jake and Rosa, but not wanting the rest of the team to take the fall. It’s also just the kind of dangling thread I like on this show: not significant enough to affect every episode, but something that will likely lead to a great story when the time comes.

What did you think of “The Big House Part 2”? Let me know down below!