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mstaken

Brooklyn Nine-Nine vs. Other Shows

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This is the place to compare Brooklyn Nine-Nine to other sitcoms and maybe even to shows of other genres as well.

I guess the most obvious comparison is Parks and Rec, right?! I see similarities in the warmth and general optimism that characterizes both shows, and both shows are kind of gleefully goofy, for lack of a better description.

I'm getting the sinking feeling that Gina can be compared to P&R's April Ludgate as too-cool-for-the-room women who are happily mean with absolutely no reason to be, remain liked by the other characters irrespective of how badly Gina/April treat them, are supposed to be forgiven because they act like decent human beings for a minute or two toward the end of the episode, speak with a grating lack of enunciation and, for me, just aren't funny.  Fortunately, I don't hate Gina nearly as much as I do April---at least not yet, and hopefully not ever :) She's not as outright malicious as April can be, and nor do the other characters (and writers!) go as completely and inexplicably out of their way to help Gina at every turn and give her constant unearned "wins" like they do with the perennially ungrateful April.  

For whatever combination of reasons, though, I find Brooklyn Nine-Nine much, much, MUCH funnier than P&R. Maybe this particular cast and these particular characters just resonate more with me, or maybe there's a little more sharp cleverness in B99 (which tends to be my favorite type of humor) to juxtapose the silliness. 

I'm eager to hear others' thoughts! 

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This is the place to compare Brooklyn Nine-Nine to other sitcoms and maybe even to shows of other genres as well.

I guess the most obvious comparison is Parks and Rec, right?! I see similarities in the warmth and general optimism that characterizes both shows, and both shows are kind of gleefully goofy, for lack of a better description.

I think the most obvious comparison is to its spiritual forefather, Barney Miller.

The pacing is of course totally different.  Miller was deliberately confined to two rooms and so unfolded like a play.  So no action scenes.  No visual jokes, cut aways, or editing tricks.  The episodes were usually about setting up a little story, via some arrested person being dragged in, or some discussion between two of the detectives or the Captain, and drawing the story out completely in that setting without any time jumps.

What is has in common with B99 is the setting, of course, but also how character based it is.  B99 allows some limited action, and any number of outside sets, but if they HAD to shoot an episode just inside the squad room and the Captain's office you get the sense that they COULD.

I also think beyond the realm of the genre, there are some comparisons to be made to "regular" cop shows, and also beyond the entire medium of TV to a few movies. The credits to the show, for example, despite only having one black person clearly IMO reads as a variation of blacksploitation type music and presentation.

The Office is an obvious comparison.  You can see, for example, the predecessors of characters like Hitchcock & Scully in The Office's Kevin, and maybe to a lesser extent Oscar, Phyllis and Stanley.  Characters as kind of odd furniture--always there every episode as joke factories, and as a kind of constant support for the four or five characters who actually get complete plotlines assigned to them.

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I agree with the Barney Miller comparison.  Not only in subject matter, but that both shows are character-driven instead of plot-driven, and both go more for "I see what you did there" chuckles and luaghs than over-the-top buffoonery.  (The Office comes close, but more than a few episodes were plot-driven, and much of Michael Scott and the Dwight-Jim pranks were more silly than funny).

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I agree that Barney Miller is not only the obvious but a logical comparison. They both have the atmosphere that the coworkers/friends are trying to be better people, but as with all of us the change is both gradual and partial; and in the end people accept each others' eccentricities and flaws as part of the deal.

Also, the ability to incorporate both subtle, almost subliminal comic touches with broad gags is a mark of both series. One of the blogs by a former sitcom writer (I actually can't remember which at the moment) was moaning that among all of today's supposedly sophisticated and admirable half-hour comedy show, none actually provides any laughs. I think that's mistaken in the first place, but my primary evidence against it would be Brooklyn Nine-Nine, both smart and hilarious.

One additional similarity, probably common to all workplace comedies, is our need to accept (or agree not to notice) that the precinct seems to run on a workforce of about a half-dozen people. There was lip service given once to the "weekend" shift, but really there should be three shifts a day, and each one would need to be a whole lot more populated. The squadroom does have extras in the background, but somehow they're never invited to Thanksgiving, or Holt's party, or anything else. I'm not complaining -- a show would become unwatchable (as well as unproduceable) if there were dozens of speaking roles in all the scenes -- but it's a reminder that even now we need to accept certain stylizations. And we do, without even thinking much about it.

Edited by Rinaldo
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As someone who is really late to the game and currently watching The Office on Netflix for the first time, I can definitely see this comparison. 

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Hill Street Blues perhaps had a bigger budget, but always had a lot of action going on in the background, so that the audience knew the highlighted characters weren't the only ones doing the police work.

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