The new Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine Nine is one of the best comedies I've seen in years, and it's just starting out. Usually shows take a little while to find their feet, but Brooklyn Nine Nine has a confidence and quality that it took Parks & Rec forever to get. Absurd, identifiably human and almost a 21st century update of Barney Miller, Brooklyn Nine Nine follows a group of cops as they solve crimes, hang out in the station and generally act lovably ridiculous. The cast is beyond amazing: the brilliant Terry Crews continues to be the funniest muscles in the world, Andre Braugher is the ultimate sardonic straight man, Joe Lo Truglio is a joy as the beta male foodie cop, Stephenie Beatriz is tough as nails and funny as hell, and Chelsea Peretti steals every single moment she's onscreen.
Then there's Andy Samberg. He's the lead of the show, and each episode's A-story revolves around him. His Detective Jake Peralta is smart and smarmy... but also irritating and foolish. Peralta is a great detective (the show goes out of its way to prove it week after week by having him solve cases with little evidence) but he's otherwise a total buffoon. We're talking late-period Homer Simpson buffoonery here, the kind of thing where you start wondering how he made it into work alive that day. And Samberg plays Peralta broad, with an unctuous grin that's big enough to swallow your head. I don't hate Andy Samberg, but I slightly sigh every time Brooklyn Nine Nine shifts from the incredible, hilarious supporting cast to his goonish antics.
You may have noticed that I left one major cast member out of my list above: Melissa Fumero. It's not because Fumero, who plays Detective Amy Santiago, is bad, but rather because she's great. She's great in a role that, in any other show, would be the central one. Amy is smart and committed and a little bit uptight and gets flustered and irritated by the antics of Peralta who, in any other show, would be second banana sidekick. Amy is the most grounded character, the one who makes the oddballs and misfits in the station work. Peralta is the wackiest, most out there of the group - and that's saying something, considering Chelsea Peretti's in the damn thing, taking every scene to the weirdest place.
Samberg is the face of the show and the biggest star in the cast, but he's just the wrong choice for the central character. Or at least as written. I love Brooklyn Nine Nine and hope for its continued success - I just hope they fix Jake Peralta a little bit.