When you think of Andre Braugher in a police station, comedy doesn’t jump to mind. Braugher, best known for “Homicide: Life on the Street,” stars in FOX’s sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” premiering Tuesday, Sept. 17.
As Capt. Ray Holt, Braugher plays the serious commanding officer of a Brooklyn precinct. Andy Samberg (“Saturday Night Live”) is Jake Peralta, the zanier detective.
“Jake is naturally gifted at detective work,” Samberg says to Zap2it “He has problems with authority and rules. He is very immature and needs to do a little growing up.”
Samberg and Braugher are chatting alone in a hotel conference room, and even here, traces of their characters surface.
“The captain is a 30-year veteran of the NYPD,” Braugher says. “He had been marginalized because of his sexual orientation. He always wanted his own command.”
Braugher has a gravitas to him. A little earlier, in a press conference with the full cast, Terry Crews, who plays a sergeant, was playing around, flexing his muscles. Braugher sits back, bemused but quietly detached.
“I am the immovable object,” Braugher says.
“And I am the irresistible force,” Samberg says.
They are a good combination.
The pilot, which holds up even on a third viewing, opens with Peralta and Det. Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) at the scene of a burglary. He quickly solves the crime, and has that cockiness that comes when you know you are good at what you do.
The 99 had been lax; detectives goofed around, playing fire extinguisher roller derby. Holt’s approach is by-the-books stringent; he demands the male detectives wear ties. Peralta balks, since he usually dresses like Mark Zuckerberg.
Finding Holt’s insistence on a tie ridiculous, Peralta first ties it around his torso. In a later scene, he appears to have complied. Peralta looks professional in a buttoned-down shirt and a tie, but when he stands up, he reveals he’s wearing a Speedo, albeit it accessorized with a holster and badge.
A solid cast of characters fleshes out the office comedy.
Though they are fresh, there’s a sweetly nostalgic hint of the old “Barney Miller” to it. The show takes the usual TV license to consider all of one Brooklyn precinct. Incidentally, the title refers to how cops refer to precincts; it’s the 99th Precinct, but they would say “the nine-nine.”
To solve a crime, detectives canvas a building, knocking on doors. In the pilot, behind one of those doors is a spacy Fred Armisen. The producers plan to tap their friends to do quick appearances.
The other characters feel well drawn, and Crews’ character, for example, has twin baby daughters, Cagney and Lacey. Santiago has seven brothers and is always proving how tough she is.
Holt is determined to make this the best precinct in Brooklyn. Within the tight 22-minute first episode, we learn that Holt had nabbed the “Disco Strangler” years ago, a huge collar, but it took him so long to move up the ranks because he’s gay.
A great scene comes toward the end, when Holt, Peralta, Santiago and others are arresting a suspect after a stakeout. The music is very 1970s police show, and they pose like “Charlie’s Angels.” Still this isn’t a parody, just a sitcom.
And one that has Dan Goor and Michael Schur (“Parks and Recreation”) as creators sold Braugher and Samberg.
“I signed on before there was a script,” Samberg says. “Mike and Dan had sold it and asked did I want to play the main detective. And I love ‘Parks and Rec.’ I try to model every decision after what Amy Poehler would do because she is my hero.”