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Josh Reviews Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season Six

A little over a year ago, at the end of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s fifth season, the show was cancelled by FOX.  I was so sad to read that news!  For me, it was a wake-up call as to how much I’d grown to love this show.  I didn’t realize how much I loved Brooklyn Nine-Nine until, suddenly, it was gone.  But then, miraculously, it wasn’t!  NBC rescued the show, picking it up for an eighteen-episode sixth season.  These things don’t usually happen!  Despite fan outcries when their shows are cancelled, it’s very rare for a show to actually find another home after a cancellation.  So the simple fact of the existence of a sixth season of the show was quite a gift.  I’d have been happy with almost anything.  What we got, stunningly, was by far the best season of the show so far!

The season began by quickly resolving the season five cliffhanger over whether or not Captain Holt was promoted to commissioner.  The season-opener was good, but it was the second episode that really caught my attention.  “Hitchcock & Scully” gave the focus to the two oafish supporting characters, showing us a flashback to when they were young and effective detectives.  It was a genius concept — showing us that the dumb and lazy dup were once muscled eighties action-star officers — and executed marvelously.  From that point on, I thought this season was on fire.

We got fantastic continuations of many of the series’ annual traditions.  Craig Robinson returned as Doug Judy, the “Pontiac Bandit,” in “A Tale of Two Bandits,” in which Nicole Byer also appeared as Doug Judy’s sister, Trudy Judy.  Mrs. Beyer was so funny!  (She also killed on her one-off appearance on The Good Place last season, in an episode that aired only a few weeks before this one, as a very jovial lady in the Good Place.)  I hope she appears again in the future!  In “Cinco de Mayo,” the gang’s Halloween Heist competition was moved to Cinco de Mayo in order to take the stress off of Terry, who was preparing for his Lieutenant’s exam.  (Because this new season didn’t begin airing on NBC until well after Halloween, this was a clever way to continue this annual tradition!). In the season finale, “Suicide Squad,” we get to see an alliance of many of the show’s (villainous) guest stars, including the Vulture (Dean Winters), Madeline Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick), and C.J. Stentley (Ken Marino).

In recent years, the show has occasionally dipped its toes into more dramatic territory.  This season saw a few examples of that.  In “He Said She Said,” Amy reveals the harassment that she suffered coming up as a young officer.  In “Casecation,” Jake and Amy wrestled with their decision over whether or not to become parents.  (That episode also gets very serious at the end as Jake faces death at the hands of a bomber.)  This is a delicate path to walk and in general I think the show is better off sticking to the funny.  But at this point in the series, we’ve grown to know and love these characters, and I don’t mind the show allowing these comedic characters to also have real depth and explore real emotions.  It’s hard to do effectively in these very short (less than 22 minute) episodes, but I don’t mind the show’s occasionally exploring these areas.

One of the reasons I loved this season so much was because of the way the writers pushed the envelope and were willing to play with the show’s format.  I already mentioned “Hitchcock & Scully,” which told the origin story of the lazy, moronic duo through a series of flashbacks.  Gina’s farewell episode, “Four Movements,” was something of a play in four parts, as Gina said farewell to everyone in the squad in different ways.  “The Crime Scene” unfolded over the course of weeks and months, and Jake and Rosa wrestled with an unsolvable case.  “Ticking Clocks,” on the other hand, took place in real time, as the gang raced to stop a hack of the precinct’s servers.  I love that, this late into the show’s run, the writers are able to be so bold and playful in messing around with the show’s usual format and structure!

Chelsea Peretti left as a series regular several episodes into the season.  I’ve always enjoyed Mrs. Peretti’s work on the show, but Gina has always been somewhat of a peripheral character (as the only series regular who is not an actual officer in the Nine-Nine), and so I’m not surprised that, eventually, Mrs. Peretti decided to move onto other things.  Luckily, the show has such a fantastic ensemble that the silver lining of Gina’s departure was that there was then a little more time to focus on each of the other characters.  I enjoyed Gina’s farewell episode, “Four Movements,” and I was also happy to see her back later on in the season in “Return of the King.”  I hope she continues to pop up now and then in the future.

Beyond the main characters, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a deep bench.  I was pleased that Marc Evan Jackson made several return appearances this season of Captain Holt’s husband Kevin.  (I particularly enjoyed “The Bimbo,” in which we saw how the very intelligent, refined Holt nevertheless felt insecure around Kevin’s academic colleagues.)  I loved Sean Astin’s guest appearance in “Ticking Clocks,” and I was delighted to see David Paymer as the titular therapist in “The Therapist” (even though I thought that episode’s attempt to get serious at the end and psychoanalyze Jake didn’t quite work).  More successful was Ike Barinholtz’s insane portrayal of Boyle’s adopted son Nikolaj’s birth father Gintars in the episode called, ahem, “Gintars.”  I also really enjoyed Deadpool’s Karan Soni as Gordon Lundt, the titular honeypot in “The Honeypot,” sent by Commissioner Kelly to spy on Captain Holt.  (The show mined comedic gold out of the idea that the straight-laced Lundt was flirting with Captain Holt.)  But the best guest star this season was Brooklyn Nine-Nine fan Lin-Manuel Miranda as Amy’s near-perfect brother in “The Golden Child”!  Mr. Miranda was one of the most vocally upset celebrities when the show was cancelled by FOX, so it makes perfect sense that they found a way to actually get him on the show here in season six, and his appearance did not disappoint.

I am so thankful that Brooklyn Nine-Nine was saved from cancellation, and I am bowled over that they were able to deliver, in this first season on NBC, the show’s strongest season so far.  Bring on season seven…!!!

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