"This has been a real nightmare, hasn't it?" Linetti (Chelsea Peretti) says to a crestfallen Santiago (Melissa Fumero), prompting a wave of laughter among the crew. They are just about to finish shooting the Thanksgiving dinner for Episode 10 of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," but before they go, Peretti has asked to add a tag to their "loose run" (after a clean take, the cast will sometimes shoot another one in which they play around more and occasionally add lines). Whether or not it makes it into the final episode, it fills the set with a renewed sense of fun and energy after an hour of repeating the same scene over and over.
That energy also makes it onto the screen. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is the strongest of the new fall comedies. Built around the opposite poles of goofy Andy Samberg (Detective Peralta) and stone-faced Andre Braugher (Captain Holt), the fictitious 99th Precinct is populated with a cast of oddballs, including Stephanie Beatriz (Detective Diaz, a streetwise tough guy- er, gal), Terry Crews (Sergeant Jeffords, former badass, now family man), Fumero (Detective Santiago, the overachiever), Joe Lo Truglio (Detective Boyle, the ultimate beta male), and Peretti (Gina Linetti, the civilian wiseacre, now Holt's assistant).
"I wasn't even necessarily looking to do a television show," said Samberg as Yahoo TV sat down between scene setups. After the grind of "Saturday Night Live," which, on top of writing and performing, also included producing weekly digital shorts, he wasn't in a rush to return to TV. "It was more just I had so much respect and admiration for Mike Schur and Dan Goor ["Brooklyn Nine-Nine" co-creators] because of 'Parks and Rec,' and they both had worked in late night. Mike ran 'Weekend Update,' and Goor was on 'The Daily Show' and 'Conan' — the best shows, basically."
Schur texted Samberg and, with Goor, pitched him the idea while the Lonely Island were working on their last record. "I was going to think about it and talk about it, but I knew I was going to do it just on the strength of how much I respect those guys," Samberg told us.
Samberg as a goofy cop makes sense, but even Andre Braugher was surprised to find himself on the same show. "This was totally unexpected. I never could have anticipated this. But," says Braugher, "it's a pleasure to be here." His years on "Homicide: Life on the Streets," two Emmys, and an Obie for his Shakespeare in the Park "Henry V" give him a gravitas that makes the casting something like bringing a gun to a knife fight. But it makes him the perfect foil for the high-energy wisecracking of Samberg.
Instead of texting, Braugher sat down with Schur and Goor over Skype. "The script is lovely; it's a laugh-out-loud script," he remembers. "And so, here's the question: Are these guys sane? And they wanted to ask the same thing about me.
"It's definitely very different from anything else I've done," he said. He says he's fascinated by the people who surround him now. "I'm learning a lot. I watch everybody like hawks. I'm not as fast as the comedians. Everybody's a little bit faster than I am. But I do enjoy watching them to get to the heart of that comedic world."
"I literally physically sweat and get nervous working with Andre," says Fumero, though she attributes it to her character's fear of Captain Holt. She believes much of what makes the show work is "everybody's specific kind of comedy" — the stand-up vibe of Samberg and Peretti and the improv background of Lo Truglio (he is one of the founding members of sketch greats "The State") contrasts with the eccentric career of Crews and the theatrical leanings of Braugher and Beatriz. Fumero's chiefly known for her years on "One Life to Live," though Braugher chimed in with, "Funny, I lumped you in with the comedians," drawing delighted laughter from the actress.
Beatriz cut her teeth on Shakespeare at the prestigious festival in Ashland, Oregon — she and Braugher have even talked about putting together Shakespeare readings like the kind director Joss Whedon does that led to this year's "Much Ado About Nothing" movie — but she's made numerous television appearances as well, including in the role of Sofia Vergara's character's sister on "Modern Family."
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Her favorite moment on the show so far has been the honest car conversation between her and Lo Truglio's character in the first episode. "It's nice to have those real moments," says Lo Truglio "And then you have a moment in the deli with Andy and that's slapstick. It's a good balance; the characters are better painted that way."
Watch the car scene between Diaz and Boyle:
"Make no mistake, this is Andy's show," said Crews, but it's the ensemble that keeps people watching. The days of one person carrying a show is over, something "even Stallone realized," Crews said in reference to the "Expendables" franchise which he is also a part of. So, does that make "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" the TV version of the "Expendables"? "Yes! Yes it is! Chelsea Peretti can hold a gun — she can blow your head off!"
The ensemble nature of the show also means the show remains interesting for the cast. "We don't always work together," said Crews, "so I always get a great surprise seeing what other people have done. Watching what Joe Lo Truglio and Stephanie Beatriz put together during their scene. Even though I saw it in the script, it's so great to watch it play out; it's new to me just like it's new to anybody else. We have that happening every week."
The production is about to wrap its first 13 episodes (Fox ordered the back nine this past Friday, prompting a sigh of relief from fans who are now assured of at least a full season), and most of the cast is looking forward to a big upcoming action chase scene. "In so many words," according to Lo Truglio. Or "something like that," said Beatriz in a tone that suggests it might be a little less "Expendables" and a little more Keystone Cops. "We don't want to give anything away, but there will be some running. Guns drawn." So, either a scene out of an action movie or the world's worst Civil War re-enactment.
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on Fox.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Andy Samberg
- Melissa Fumero
- Chelsea Peretti
- Joe Lo Truglio
- Andre Braugher
- Terry Crews