TV Reviews

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Season 8) – TV Review

When will we get Season 8 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the UK? Well, it’s coming to DVD next month…

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the perfect comfort viewing: short and snappy episodes, a roster of endearing characters and easily digestible plotlines where everything gets wrapped up after twenty-two minutes. It’s also – and this is critical for a successful comedy – very funny, but unafraid to dabble in headier subject matter, proving entertaining and thought-provoking in equal parts.

In its eighth and final season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine deliberately grounds itself in a specific time period (present-day 2021) in a way that previous seasons never did so overtly, tackling head-on ideas around police reform that have come to light publicly in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, and also referencing the COVID-19 pandemic. The show loses none of its wit or panache while folding in significant shifts in terms of tone, episode plots and character development; there’s the distinct feeling the writers have shaken up the status quo for these final ten episodes.

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Holt’s (Andre Braugher) demotion from precinct commander to patrol officer for much of season seven allowed the character to become cheekier, more irreverent; now, his deadpan delivery and idiosyncrasies remain, but the emotional stakes are higher. Braugher excels in a number of genuinely affecting scenes, beginning with Holt’s confession to Amy (Melissa Fumero) in the opener ‘The Good Ones’ that he and Kevin (Marc Evan Jackson) have separated – a revelation that forms one of the season’s major subplots.

© 2021 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Amy and Jake (Andy Samberg), the show’s other major romantic pairing, have been through a lot over the years: they started out as combative colleagues, then dated, got married and eventually had a baby. This season, they struggle to balance work with parenting, particularly Amy, whose role in spearheading a police reform proposal means Jake has to step up and do more in care of their firstborn. For his part, Jake is coming to terms with the possibility that he might be part of the problem with the police in exacerbating injustice; such a realisation shows just how far the character has come from immature detective to responsible and socially conscious parent.

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There isn’t as much of a focus on Terry (Terry Crews) this year – it would have been nice to have his family feature one last time, or indeed for us to know them better as individuals – although there is a whole episode devoted to Charles (Joe Lo Truglio) and his extended family in ‘Game of Boyles’, a Knives Out pastiche that introduces another significant revelation. Meanwhile, Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) has grown so disenfranchised with the police that she becomes a private investigator in between seasons, electing to pursue justice outside the bounds of a corrupt system. Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) has retired to Brazil and dials in via video call, while his good friend Scully (Joel McKinnon Miller) is as ailed and easy to please as ever. Plus, a plethora of other guest characters, too many to name here, return for one last hurrah.

© 2021 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The season’s main antagonist is Frank O’Sullivan (John C. McGinley), a police union representative with a penchant for blackmail who delights in false allegations of anti-police sentiment to further twisted ideas about the NYPD being under attack. (“If I’m passionate about one thing, it’s getting cops off without punishment.”) His is a frustrating and obstructive presence for the squad, one that makes apparent just how great a threat an untrustworthy police force can be in the eyes of the general public, and how factions within the institution will gladly use coercive power for their own ends.

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Loyal viewers will get more of an emotional kick than casual viewers out of farewelling these characters, but the season is still full of accessible and character-centric humour, quickfire laughs and abrupt twists and turns. Of course, things wouldn’t be complete without one last heist, which goes off in style in the two-part finale, ‘The Last Day’, itself a trip down memory lane full of meta references, fan-service cameos and intentionally ludicrous plot twists. But the way things are finally wrapped up certainly packs a punch, as more than one character leaves the Nine-Nine for bigger and better things, there are tears and reminiscences, and the show hits pause on the comedy for moments of authentic pathos.

Netflix categorises Brooklyn Nine-Nine as ‘goofy’, and it certainly is that, but its final season successfully toes the line between absurd sitcom and discussion of pertinent social issues around police reform and the injustice of the justice system. New territory is explored and changes made in a thoroughly satisfying final season.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 8 comes to DVD on 21st February, as an individual season, or as part of the Seasons 1-8 Boxset.

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