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Brooklyn Nine-Nine Review: Happy Turkey Day!

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Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! 

I’m Canadian, so we celebrate our Thanksgiving back in October. Yes, we’re different, we know.

This week, Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 1 Episode 10 tried its hand at a sitcom staple: the Thanksgiving episode. Pretty much every sitcom has tackled the Thanksgiving disaster at some point.  

Some have been memorable, such as Everybody Loves Raymond and the tofurkey; Cheers and the epic food-fight and pretty much every Friends thanksgiving.

Some, however, have been quite forgettable (I’m looking at you, Community).

Captain Holt on Thanksgiving

So how did Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s attempt fit into the annals of Thanksgiving hilarity?

It was okay. The episode was enjoyable, and certainly had its merits. However, while possibly treading with caution as a new comedy, it didn’t really try that hard to rise above some the clichés that come with a Thanksgiving episode.

  • Bad cooking? Santiago, check (Honestly – substituting baking soda for salt?!) 
  • Absentee family members? Holt and Peralta leaving dinner, check. 
  • Realization of “new family” by a cynical loner? Peralta, check.

So the Thanksgiving part of this episode was like an overcooked turkey: kinda dry.

The half hour started off with the ever optimistic Charles Boyle wishing everyone a “Happy Turkey Day!” Boyle is one of my favorite characters on this show.

I find his enthusiasm and sincerity quite endearing.  His love for Thanksgiving was no surprise; we already knew how much he loved Halloween. He’s a holiday kind of guy. His fervor for Thanksgiving gave us a fun running joke – “Boyle Bingo” – and his sincerity allowed him to rescue the disastrous precinct dinner.

Amy’s Thanksgiving dinner was a failure, both for her and a bit for us as viewers. Her need for Holt’s attention and approval was awkward, but more uncomfortably so than funny, and not even the constant lamp-shading of the awkwardness made it easier for me to watch.

What was fun, though, was watching Rosa and Gina make fun of Amy, and watching Terry slowly lose it as he got hungrier and hungrier.

No waiting, just toasting. I want you to toast, now I wanna eat toast, gimme some toast!

Terry

Jake, unlike Charles, isn’t a big fan of Thanksgiving. 

The holiday was hard on him as a child; his father left his family and his mother had to work to make ends meet, so Jake was home alone on Thanksgiving as a kid, watching football and eating a disgusting combination of mayonnaise and peanuts. Cue the holiday cynicism:

I am thankful that Thanksgiving only comes once a year. People stuff themselves and then at midnight they run to appliance stores and trample each other to death. It’s a garbage holiday.

So Jake got himself assigned to the next available case so as to avoid Santiago’s dinner. The timing couldn’t have been better.  Holt and Peralta had to leave the dinner to investigate a theft at the station, and that resulted in the best thing about the episode – the Holt/Peralta working partnership.

The blandness of the Thanksgiving portion of the episode was made up for by the incredibly entertaining partnership of Holt and Peralta.

I loved the scene in the car; watching Captain Holt mess with Jake is always funny. Also, I can’t imagine the laughter on set when Andre Braugher had to deliver the line about his wife being killed by a man in a yellow sweater. Everything about their partnership was fun, from the actual police work to their jabs at each other. 

Holt: Try to blend in.
Jake: Good idea. I’ll just age myself 60 years, become Chinese and female.

They keep each other on their toes and know how to push each other’s buttons, but as different as they are, their mutual respect allows them to work efficiently.  

It was this respect and understanding of each other that allowed Holt to convince Peralta that he didn’t have to hate Thanksgiving because of his past; he could enjoy it in the present with the dysfunctional family of Precinct 99.

I don’t think this episode will make anyone’s “Top Ten Thanksgiving Episode list.”  It wasn’t even the best installment of Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 1.

However, even though I wasn’t completely satisfied, there was enough that was amusing about it to allow me to enjoy it.

What did you think? And do you have a favorite Thanksgiving episode?

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (30 Votes)
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The Community Thanksgiving episode was part of the Harmon-less season 4 and therefore does not actually count.

Joyeful
@ Nate

Agreed - hence "forgettable" :-) Though there were a couple memorable episodes from that season - the puppets episode was fantastic, as was the body-switch episode.

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