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Josh Reviews Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season Seven!

After being cancelled two years ago by Fox, Brooklyn Nine-Nine roared back on NBC with possibly its strongest season ever.  The recently-concluded season seven can’t quite top that magnificent season six, but it’s still a terrific season of comedy that demonstrates that this veteran show continues to have a lot of gas in its tank.

The first few episodes of season seven were OK but not spectacular.  I was a little surprised that the show didn’t manage to milk more comedic energy out of the season six cliffhanger in which Captain Holt was demoted to walking a beat.  I’d thought the show would get a lot of mileage out of the idea of the Nine-Nine’s boss now being a subordinate to all of them, but that plotline didn’t seem to build to much.  I was thrilled to see Vanessa Bayer (SNL, Trainwreck, Office Christmas Party) join the ensemble as Holt’s new beat-partner, but while I loved her initial oil-and-water pairing with Holt, I didn’t like the u-turn to make her pretty much insane in episode five, “Debbie,” after which she was gone from the show.

I did love episode three, “Pimemento,” a brilliant title for a fantastic Memento parody that brought back Jason Mantzoukas as Adrian Pimento.  I love Mr. Mantzoukas’ crazy energy, and this loony story was a good match for his character.

I enjoyed the way several episodes last season played with the show’s usual format, and so I was pleased to see that kind of creativity again on display in episode six, “Trying,” which took place over six months.  Six months in twenty-two minutes is no easy feat!  The episode depicted Jake & Amy’s unsuccessful efforts towards Amy’s getting pregnant.  Brooklyn Nine-Nine has often experimented with weaving the occasional serious emotional story in with all the cartoon craziness.  Sometimes that merging of disparate tones can be awkward, but I was pleased at how funny and also heartfelt this episode was.  I particularly loved the bold choice to not end the episode with a happy ending; instead, we see Amy learning in the final seconds of the show that she has again failed to get pregnant.  (I only wish they didn’t jump into Amy’s actually getting pregnant at the end of the very next episode.  It would’ve been better to have let the ending of “Trying” linger for a few more episodes.)

The season’s five final episodes were all terrific, a fantastic run of hugely funny shows.  In episode nine, “Dillman,” the great J.K. Simmons turned in a phenomenal guest appearance as the super-skilled detective friend of Captain Holt.  In episode ten, “Admiral Peralta,” Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) returned as Jake’s not-so-great father Roger, and we were introduced to another messed-up Peralta male: Jake’s grandfather, played by Martin Mull (Roseanne, Arrested Development, Veep).  Mr. Whitford and Mr. Mull had terrific chemistry with Andy Samberg’s Jake, and the climax of their disastrous appearance at the child sex reveal party Jake was trying to arrange for the pregnant Amy was fantastic.  That would have been enough for a single episode, but we also got an out of nowhere Whiplash parody, with Holt’s proving to be an overly aggressive coach to flautist Terry.

Next came episode eleven, “Valloween,” the annual installment of the Halloween Heist tradition.  Since the show no longer tends to be on the air during Halloween (NBC launched season even at mid-season), the writers have had to be creative in coming up with reasons to set the Halloween Heist on days other than Halloween, and I loved the solution they came up with here, involving the thrice-aborted attempt to stage a heist involving an Infinity Gauntlet replica.  Episode twelve, “Ransom”, was a hilarious spotlight on Captain Holt and Marc Evan Jackson as Holt’s husband Kevin.  I wish Mr. Evan Jackson had made more than one appearance on the show this season, but boy was this a doozy.  The scenes of Jake attempting to impersonate Kevin were so funny.  And that slo-mo reveal of Cheddar at the end, escaping from his dog-napper?  Fantastic!

The season came to a very strong end with the finale, “Lights Out.”  We got great stories for all of the characters.  Sitcoms are known for coming up with wacky stories for their characters to give birth, and Amy’s having to give birth in the precinct might have felt predictable.  But I adored this story of the smart, tough, supremely competent Amy managing the entire precinct during the blackout while having labor pains at the same time.  Melissa Fumero was hilarious, as was Stephanie Beatriz as the usually unflappable Rosa who, in this case, was extremely put-off by the more gory aspects of childbirth.  Holt and Terry’s insane choreographed dance to “Push It” was amazing, a fantastic showcase for Andre Braugher and Terry Crews’ abilities as physical comedians.  Joe Lo Truglio was terrific as always playing Boyle’s over-the-top excitement for the arrival of Jake and Amy’s baby, and the central storyline of Amy and Jake’s becoming parents was sweet and extremely funny.  Even Hitchcock and Scully (Dirk Blocker and Joel McKinnon) got some great moments, transforming their secret nap space into a childbirth room for Amy.  I’m pleased the show didn’t end on a cliffhanger the way previous seasons usually did.  Those cliffhangers are tough enough these days when we have to wait so long between seasons; with the Coronavirus disrupting everything, it’ll likely be an even longer wait for more of this show.  So I’m happy to have gotten a nice, satisfying ending to the season.

Other thoughts:

* I wasn’t expecting a sequel to season two’s “Jimmy Jab Games,” but it was fun to get that callback in “The Jimmy Jab Games II”.

* I was waiting for Craig Robinson’s annual return as Doug Judy, the Pontiac Bandit, and I’m glad that happened in episode eight, “The Takeback”.  I was also pleased they brought back Nicole Byer as Trudy Judy, as well!

* It was also nice to see Kyra Sedgwick make a final appearance as Holt’s nemesis Madeleine Wuntch in episode seven, “Ding Dong.”

* One person I was expecting to see but didn’t: Chelsea Peretti as Gina.  I hope she pops up again in season eight.

At only thirteen episodes in length (this was the show’s shortest season — season six was originally supposed to also only be thirteen episodes, but that season’s order wound up being increased to eighteen), this season blew by.  I felt that it ended just as it was really gearing up!!  That’s a shame, but I’m still so grateful that we’re getting ANY new episodes at all, after Fox cancelled the show back in 2018.  Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been renewed for an eighth season, and I can’t wait for it.  I love this silly, sweet comedy.

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