Can ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Save ‘The Venue’ For Jake And Amy’s Toit Nups?

NBC

A review of tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine coming up just as soon as Shrek Live comes to Broadway…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of the reasons Jake and Amy have been such an entertaining couple is that the show only occasionally tells stories about their couplehood, and can often go whole episodes without acknowledging that they’re dating/engaged. So when we get a full-on Peralta/Santiago tale like in “The Venue,” you know it’s because someone in the writers room had a fun idea for the two of them, rather than because they felt they had to service the show’s primary romance.

Where Jake/Amy stories are often about how completely mismatched they are, or how competitive they can be, the early part of the “The Venue” got its laughs for what a well-oiled machine they can be when they have a common goal like having “toit nups” — a phrase that could have felt very forced (like some of the later Seinfeld episodes where they wanted to make a catchphrase happen), but didn’t because of Samberg’s sheer enthusiasm of saying it each time, and how naturally Fumero made it sound coming from the usually uptoit Amy. That Jake knows Amy well enough to want the flowers wrapped in chronologically significant New York Times crossword puzzles, or that she knows him well enough to commission a Nakatomi Plaza cake (and do a half-decent John McClane impression while saying “Welcome to the wedding, pal!”) was incredibly charming and fun, and then set us up nicely for the crisis of the Vulture vulturing their great wedding venue.

Things felt a bit rushed after that — in particular, I could have used a bit more time watching the Vulture pretending to be a good guy for the benefit of his fianceé Jean (Maria Thayer from Those Who Can’t) before Jake and Amy sacrificed the venue for the sake of telling her the truth — but on the whole the A-story managed to feel like a very Brooklyn Nine-Nine version of a familiar sitcom wedding planning story, and I will never mind seeing Dean Winters come back to play the Vulture.

The Charles/Rosa and Terry/Holt subplots were each pretty thin on their own(*), meanwhile, but the script cleverly wove the two of them together at the end, so that Terry’s problem (trying too hard to get everyone — even strangers like Terri-with-an-“i” — to like him) solved Charles’ problem (resenting the attention that Sgt. Peanutbutter(**) keeps stealing from him), and vice versa, making each of them feel richer in hindsight, even as both offered some comic pleasures (Holt taking offense at being called “Ray,” Terry struggling to both frown and stop speaking in the third person) before then. For that matter, it was a nice touch to have Rosa keep throwing donut holes into Jake’s mouth even after the terrific cold open, since those sequences are often treated as standalone comedy sketches. If the two of them really do this all the time, and have since the academy, then we should see them do it occasionally outside the sketch, particularly if the throws are as creative as some of those tosses wound up being before an errant hole went into the mouth of a rapturous Scully.

(*) And the Boyle/Diaz story leaned heavily on a big comic stunt (Charles being dragged by the horse) of the kind I almost never find nearly as funny as intended when Brooklyn does it.

(**) A dual homage, it seems, to both Lil Sebastian and Mr. Peanutbutter on BoJack Horseman.

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at [email protected]. He discusses television weekly on the TV Avalanche podcast. His new book, Breaking Bad 101, is on sale now.

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