Brooklyn Nine-Nine had a headlining slot at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, and the tangible enthusiasm for this comedy’s presence at the convention is just one of many markers when measuring the show’s success on its new home of NBC.
When NBC saved Brooklyn last year, it became immediately clear that the network knew how to market the show much better than Fox ever did, and one of the first smart moves they made was to take the cast to Comic-Con last year and put them in front of a room full of adoring fans.
The atmosphere of that 2018 panel was something that I personally have never witnessed at an SDCC before — a positive fervor with a special flavor of victory to it, and with a consciousness that there was something a little outside the norm for an SDCC audience going on.
But NBC seems to recognize that and is leaning hard into direct fan engagement for their half-hour comedies — the type of fan engagement more frequently seen in the genre properties that typically populate an SDCC line-up — and it’s absolutely, positively working.
The storytelling, social consciousness and messaging in shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place is something that resonates with the kind of fans who don’t just watch TV casually, the kind of fans who dedicate a lot more brainspace to the stories that are being created, the kind of fans who go to conventions and dress up and create fanart and all that sort of great stuff. In short, these shows have a fandom rather than a fanbase, which makes them right at home in San Diego.
This year, Brooklyn Nine-Nine had a particularly fun weekend-long presence at the con in the form of an offsite activation, placed directly outside the Hard Rock at the crossing between the Gaslamp and the Convention Center. NBC built a miniature version of the precinct’s fourth floor bullpen — an immersive activity that was sort of an escape room, which involved fans being recruited as potential detectives and helping to solve our very own Comic-Con heist, with the larger group of entrants being split into teams to solve puzzles with clues laid around the squad’s desks, or by interrogating cosplaying prisoners in the holding cell, or asking for help from other officers.
Hypable got to participate in a press preview first thing Thursday morning, and I am thrilled to report that our team actually won and was declared the ultimate recruits/geniuses of our bracket.
The Brooklyn Nine-Nine activation was by far the best immersive SDCC offsite I’ve ever seen — it was extremely well put together as a piece of theater, very funny, very unthreatening, and very detailed for those who wanted to get an up close look at the squad’s desks (Rosa has a bi flag in her pencil cup!)
All weekend it was the offsite that most attendees and celebrities were keen to get into — a fantastic way to keep the Brooklyn buzz alive for the entire convention.
Some readers will probably also be amused to learn that the team who created the Brooklyn Nine-Nine activation was LA sketch comedy trio The Tin Can Bros, whose members Joey Richter, Brian Rosenthal and Corey Lubowich are also a big part of the Team StarKid company.
Fun fact: I had no idea about this until I was let into the precinct and promptly recognized about three quarters of the actors in the activation. Fun fact: A drunk, belligerent Tinkerbell cosplayer in a holding cell is extremely funny. It is 10 times funnier when the actor playing her is Lauren Lopez. I hope that many other StarKid fans got as much of a surprise and as much of a kick out of this as I did!
But onto the real cast and crew of the real Nine-Nine. Before their panel — which closed out Saturday in 6BCF with a completely full house and a line of hopeful fans snaking down the steps of the convention center — Hypable was able to sit down with the cast and creators of Brooklyn Nine-Nine to talk about the outcome of season 6 and what’s in store for season 7 now that Holt’s been demoted to a uniformed officer under Police Commissioner Wuntch.
Jake’s secret double cross with Wuntch in the season finale “The Suicide Squad” was one of the show’s most surprising moments, and one of the brilliant detective’s smartest moves of all-time. However, we wanted to know whether we will see Jake carrying any guilt about his part in the plan given that it led, ultimately, to Holt being removed as Captain. At the time of the interview, Andy Samberg had not yet read any season 7 scripts, but was happy to share his opinion on the matter.
“I don’t know that he’s gonna feel personal guilt. That whole thing played out in a way that was ultimately beneficial for everybody, and I think that even Holt would agree that it’s better to have Wuntch in there and him working as a traffic cop than to have Commissioner Kelly in charge…”
However, an interesting aspect to the change in the status quo is that Amy is now Holt’s boss. Melissa Fumero confirmed that this would be the case with no small amount of glee, and told us that she asked the same question when shooting the season 6 finale. We can only imagine what sort of crisis Sgt Santiago will face over this next season!
Like us, Dirk Blocker would love to keep exploring any other skeletons lurking in Hitchcock’s and Scully’s closet.
“The ‘Hitchcock & Scully’ episode was really beneficial to us — I think the audience really liked it, but it was really beneficial to us [himself and Joel McKinnon Miller] too because we’ve been filling in the blanks ourselves and the writers have been giving us more — and then we’d do more, and then the writers would do more — but this really kind of told us a little more. The only disappointment I had was that the guy they hired for me wasn’t very good-looking,” Blocker quipped, referencing the “total smokeshow” Wyatt Nash, who portrayed Young Hitchcock.
We spoke to Terry Crews and Jo Lo Truglio about the tricky balance in making the audience root for the characters to progress (particularly in terms of getting promoted) but also wanting the squad to stay together.
“One thing I love is just that the world of Brooklyn Nine-Nine changes every episode. You know where you are by episode. You know what I mean? It’s like that time when you and Chelsea had a relationship?” Crews relayed to Lo Truglio. “You’re watching that, you know where you are. When it’s not there, you know, ‘Oh, it’s past that.’ It’s like movement. I love the fact that Santiago, going through her promotion, you see her in her police uniform, you know where we are. This is life, you know what I mean?”
“I think in the old days,” Crews continues, “everybody just wanted to watch the same episode over and over, you didn’t mind, but there’s too many choices. Now, TV ends! You have to have a show that says, ‘This is our last season.’ That was unthinkable when I was a kid. Shows never ended. Fantasy Island was going on forever! They had the same actors come back with different names!”
This derailed a bit into a discussion of which Brooklyn Nine-Nine guest stars they’d like to see come back with different names, but we think the takeaway here is that progress is good and that one day (not today!) Brooklyn Nine-Nine will end and so there will be a chance for those positive goals to be fulfilled.
For executive producers Dan Goor and Luke Del Tredici, Hypable had a pressing question that we’ve been thinking about all year, since a very moving moment at last year’s panel. A question was asked then about mental health representation, and the producers answered it very carefully. Then, season 6 did address mental health representation a couple of times, most prominently in 6×11 “The Therapist.” We wanted to know if this inclusion was something that came as a result of the pointed panel moment, if it had been in the works already, and if we’d ever touch base with Jake in real therapy.
“I have to say that we had been talking about it before the panel for quite some time, and we have also been aware that on the internet there have been people who have been talking about it and talking about Jake having ADHD and Amy having OCD,” Goor told us.
“It’s also a very real issue for police, is a thing we talked about,” Del Tredici expands. “Some stuff got cut, but it is a very, like… It speaks to what’s interesting about the show and one of the reasons we had balked at telling that story a little bit before is that you want to tell a general story about mental health and what therapy means to people, but it’s also a very specific thing of what it means for police officers, and that could be interesting, but it also means they’re in a different situation to a lot of normal people and you want to sort of tell a story that is applicable and approachable to the audience but also acknowledges that they are, that they need… that mental health is different when you face dangerous situations all time, when you deal with death…”
“In terms of whether we would address it again or show him in real therapy, I think sure, if the story called for it,” Goor continued. “I think the danger, obviously — and I think we had some very funny stuff when he was in therapy — would be making light of it too much, perhaps, but I was just watching an old Bob Newhart where he’s a therapist and it’s hilarious, so I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.”
As for the panel, I’m going to be real with you — it contained very little actual news and very much goofing around. We can tell you that the Jimmy Jab Games are back? And that there’s some confusion over whether we will get another Halloween Heist because the show is once again a mid-season debut? Terry’s real favorite yogurt flavor is strawberry? Everyone wore matching tracksuits, including the cardboard cutouts of Stephanie Beatriz and Andre Braugher that were brought along to represent the cast in absentia? I would like to buy one of these tracksuits? There was a blooper reel? NBC has released the whole thing online, so you can watch it below.
Okay, a couple of really important moments include the fact that Holt’s demotion is a change that they don’t have to walk back quickly in order to reunite the squad, like Jake and Rosa in jail. Here, everyone is still together, but the dynamic is turned on its head — and that isn’t something they’re in a rush to reverse. Also, Dan teased a potential to do the Holt and Kevin vow renewal ceremony that the characters once mentioned long ago, and there’s now a public campaign to get Bruce Willis to guest star on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Please feel free to use the hashtag #BWilli99 and pull out all the stops in peer pressuring Bruce Willis (like this legend) so that Jake Peralta can meet his hero!