Sitcom survives typical pitfalls thanks to diverse, talented cast
Published: Sunday, February 23, 2014
Updated: Sunday, February 23, 2014 21:02
Despite the sheer volume of sitcoms that get churned out every fall, very few sitcoms ever gain real traction. Far too many slip through the cracks and are canceled before the mid-season, and even the luckier ones may not make it to a second season.
It might be too early to make any sweeping value judgments, but Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has managed to buck the pitfalls of its genre so far. Ever since its debut in September 2013, the show has been praised for not just its offbeat humor, but also its treatment of social issues. Furthermore, the highly diverse and well-rounded cast of characters has made it far more than an Andy Samberg vehicle.
“Full Boyle” — “Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s” newest episode — centers on one such supporting character. Though Charles Boyle is a member of the main cast, he has been largely out of focus. Cursory traits establish him as a hardworking, but nervous, man looking for love (as well as an enthusiastic foodie), but only in this episode are those traits truly brought to life. A befitting episode that aired right before Valentine’s Day, the A-plot of “Full Boyle” deals with the detective’s romantic entanglements — namely that his new relationship with Vivian has changed his personality in drastic ways.
Having been buoyed by love, Boyle is now much more confident in all areas to the point where he even begins to dress differently. Neither assertiveness nor low-waist jeans are a bad look on him, but his friends (particularly Peralta) are worried that this newfound passion might cause him to try to move too quickly in his relationship with Vivian — the Full Boyle referred to in the title of the episode. Despite their best efforts, the inevitable catastrophe happens; it’s a predictable story, but it serves the purpose of fleshing out Boyle into more than just a stereotype. Joe Lo Truglio has always managed to walk the fine line between comical and grating in his portrayal, bringing sympathy to a character that would seem incredibly annoying on paper, and Andy Samberg is in his prime in his supporting role.
While Boyle and Peralta are running around in the city and working through the former’s romantic woes, the rest of cast is preoccupied with its own difficulties. Ray Holt continues to be the most interesting member of the cast as he gets embroiled in a political rivalry with a young ambitious man who is rising in the ranks of the African American Gay and Lesbian New York City Policeman’s Association. Despite the breadth of offensive jokes that could have been made in scenarios like this, everything was handled with respectful humor, as was the C-plot that dealt with an offbeat vigilante in the streets of Brooklyn.
Overall, “Full Boyle” is another strong addition to a well-written show. If it has one flaw, it was that the three storylines never really form into any cohesive structure — but the slightly disorganized feel of the episode is overshadowed by strong performances and fantastic humor.