Tuned In

'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' getting better with age


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PASADENA, Calif. -- Viewers may have been as surprised as Andy Samberg ("Saturday Night Live") when Fox's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" won the Golden Globe for best comedy series earlier this month and he won for best comedy actor.

"I go up there, and I don't have any jokes," Mr. Samberg said the day after his win. "I don't like going on a stage without jokes."

As for the show's victory, Mr. Samberg said he got a distinct sense that the celebrities in attendance at the Globes were shocked, too.

"A lot of people in there had not heard of our show," he said. "That's what's so awesome about it because now they have."

For those who missed "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" when it debuted last fall as one of the better-reviewed comedies of the 2013-14 TV season, this single-camera show from the writers of "Parks and Recreation" will get an opportunity to reintroduce itself Sunday. Original episodes of Fox's "New Girl" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" will air after the Super Bowl at approximately 10:30 and 11 p.m., respectively. (As always, when a program airs around live programming, viewers are encouraged to set DVRs to begin early and run long.)

Mr. Samberg stars in "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" as Jake Peralta, a smart-aleck but skilled police detective who butts heads with by-the-book Capt. Holt (Andre Braugher). What's been great about the show is that what sounds initially like a tired premise has actually blossomed into something more complex.

Holt and Peralta have developed a respect for one another that wasn't as obvious in the pilot, and Peralta's jerkiness has been dialed down.

"It's fun to see a rapport between Holt and Peralta, as well as friction," Mr. Samberg said. "With any odd couple in any show or movie, you need some relief and growth to it. Meeting each other halfway occasionally is satisfying as a viewer."

In addition, the show's supporting cast has come into sharper focus.

"I think as with most ensemble comedies, from what I've observed with 'Parks and Recreation' and '30 Rock' and all the ones that are considered great, the more [the writers] get to know the cast, the more they can tailor the writing to their strengths," Mr. Samberg said. "Our writing staff is really experienced with that skill, and they picked up on that stuff really early and have turned the characters into versions of who the cast members really are. They play Melissa Fumero into more of a goody-two-shoes sweet character because that's how Melissa Fumero is."

Ms. Fumero's Amy is often paired with Peralta on investigations, including in Sunday's episode, "Operation: Broken Feather," where they investigate hotel robberies. Fred Armisen ("Portlandia"), who guest starred in the pilot, returns as the same character and former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann makes a cameo appearance.

In addition to the show's special, post-Super Bowl episode, the "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" pilot will repeat at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday before the show moves to 9:30 p.m. with a new episode the same night. In that episode, viewers meet Holt's husband when Holt invites his work colleagues over to celebrate his birthday.

"I've been in dramas for 25 years, and there's nothing like a comedy to take the cloud off of acting," Mr. Braugher said. "No prison riot, no rapes, no nuclear stand-off."

And although Mr. Braugher is the more respected actor from his dramatic background, he tips his hat to Mr. Samberg. Mr. Braugher said he reads Jake's lines in the script and is then amazed to see the different spin Mr. Samberg puts on them, what he calls "deeper choices" in Mr. Samberg's performance.

"We work in opposite ways and watching how he works is vastly more interesting than studying my own process," he said. "So I'm hoping one day to be more like Andy and less like myself. ... Our challenge in the next three to five years is to study the intuitive comic genius of Andy Samberg and incorporate some of that into our own work."

It helps that "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is a natural place for good humor.

"I pride myself on not losing it, but I lost it for the third time this season," Mr. Braugher said earlier this month after filming a scene with co-star Chelsea Pereitti, who plays office manager Gina Linetti.

"Gina said she was congratulating her grandmother on having made her 'the intelligent, sensuous, articulate, sensuous woman she is,' and I said, 'You're double sensuous?' and she said, 'Yes,' and I just lost it."

Super Bowl alternatives

First, there was the "Puppy Bowl" on Animal Planet, and it returns this year for its 10th anniversary, airing 3-5 p.m. and repeating through the evening afterward for a total of six airings. During each airing viewers can vote online (at AnimalPlanet.com/PuppyBowlMVP) for which puppy should be crowned MVP.

But now "Puppy Bowl" has been joined by other alternatives, including Hallmark Channel's "Kitten Bowl" (noon-3 p.m. and repeating at 3, 6 and 9 p.m.), hosted by Beth Stern, who grew up in Natrona Heights and Fox Chapel.

The "Kitten Bowl" stars 71 kittens who have been adopted and features appearances by Regis Philbin, Hoda Kotb, Rachael Ray, Lisa Vanderpump, Rocco DiSpirito, Nicky Hilton, Kelly Rutherford, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Carrie Ann Inaba and others.

Not to be outdone, Nat Geo Wild introduces "Fish Bowl" (6-10 p.m.), which will feature a goldfish named Goldie simply swimming around in a bowl.

Desperate-for-attention, The Weather Channel will air "The Weather Bowl," with an update on weather conditions at the game and in Denver and Seattle (in anticipation of celebration or dejection), during the Super Bowl halftime, approximately 8-9 p.m. Sunday.

And in its rush to the bottom, Destination America offers a "Toilet Bowl," a marathon of episodes of "King of Thrones" (noon-3 p.m.), about bathroom renovations.

NBC has its own alternative to Super Bowl pregame coverage, the "Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge National Finals" (5-6 p.m., WPXI), featuring dogs competing in Olympic-style events.

As for that possible "Seinfeld" reunion commercial shot a few weeks ago in New York at the show's Tom's Restaurant location, Jerry Seinfeld cryptically answered questions about it in an interview with WFAN sports radio in New York, saying, it wasn't a commercial or an episode of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" but, he added, it's "not not those things, either. It's a secret project." (My money is still on a Super Bowl commercial.)

Last week on the set of TV Land's "The Exes," when asked if he was involved in the secret project, Wayne Knight, who played Newman, looked up, smiled and said, "Here's where your story says, 'He doesn't answer.' "

HBO avoids the game

Fans of HBO's "Girls" and "Looking" take note: The shows will premiere their new episodes at 10 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday to avoid premiering new episodes against Super Bowl programming. The same episodes will air again in their usual Sunday-night time slots.

'Jeopardy!' local tie

Phoebe Juel, a lawyer from Cranberry, will make her fourth appearance on "Jeopardy!" (7 p.m. weekdays, WPXI) on Thursday as part of the show's "All-Star Battle of the Decades." She previously appeared in the 1993 college tournament and two other champions' tournaments. The winners of next week's games will advance to a two-week tournament in May.

Gateway grad to ABC

Former Monroeville resident Devanshi Patel, a 1999 graduate of Gateway High School, is one of eight writers chosen for the 2014 Disney/ABC writing program, where she will get the opportunity to work on a Disney/ABC series. A 2003 grad of New York University, where she studied finance and international business, Ms. Patel is the daughter of Harilal Patel, former program administrator for air quality monitoring in the Allegheny County Health Department. Disney/ABC writing program alumni include Veena Sud ("The Killing"), George Mastras ("Breaking Bad") and Jane Espenson ("Once Upon a Time").

WQED adds to '4802'

WQED-TV will introduce a "next generation" of panelists to its Friday night "4802" (7:30 p.m.) program. Beginning tonight and continuing on the last Friday of each month, "4802 Final Friday" will feature a panel of up-and-comers instead of the show's regulars, Bill Green, Lynn Cullen, Heather Heidelbaugh and Valerie McDonald-Roberts. Chris Moore will host the conversations on current events in Pittsburgh with panelists Lenny McAllister, a Republican analyst/commentator; Dave Powell, chairman of the Allegheny County Libertarian Party; Cindy Fernandez, host and executive/creative producer for La Rumba Productions; and Olivia Benson, former youth policy manager for the City of Pittsburgh.

Nielsen on Pittsburgh

A local watch study by Nielsen -- the ratings company -- found that Pittsburghers' TV viewing habits are, perhaps predictably, a bit behind the technology curve.

A report released this week found Pittsburghers, compared to viewers in other Top 25 TV markets nationally, spend the most time watching TV live. Pittsburghers are generally in the middle of the pack for DVR playback.

Pittsburgh also has the lowest percentage of smart TV ownership and one of the smaller year-to-year gains in smart TV penetration growth.

Kept/canceled

NBC canceled low-rated freshman Thursday sitcom "Sean Saves the World."

HBO canceled "Family Tree" and "Hello Ladies" but The Hollywood Reporter says "Hello Ladies" will wrap up with a special. No final decision on the fate of "Getting On."

Syfy ordered 26 more episodes of "Haven" with 13 airing this fall and the balance airing in 2015.

Fox renewed "Bones," which after tonight's episode takes a break until it moves to Mondays on March 10, for a 10th season.

Bravo will bring back "Top Chef" for a 12th season this fall.

Cinemax ordered a third season of "Banshee" to air in 2015.

Channel surfing

This week cable's Sundance Channel re-christened itself Sundance TV. ... Fox's "Kitchen Nightmares" returns Feb. 28. ... Fox's "Almost Human" will have its season finale on March 3. ... BBC America's "Top Gear" returns for its 21st season at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 10. ... Pittsburgh native Terri Minsky, creator of "Lizzie McGuire," has sold a 12-episode family drama to MTV, according to Variety. "Finding Carter" follows a teen who learns she was abducted from her birth family.

Tuned In online

Today's online TV Q&A column responds to questions about Jay Leno, "The Doctors" and sports video on local newscasts. This week's Tuned In Journal includes posts on "2 Broke Girls," "Game of Thrones," "Rake" and "Ian Fleming: The Man Who Would be Bond." Read online-only TV content at post-gazette.com/tv.

This week's podcast includes conversation about "Opposite Worlds," "Looking" and "Girls." Subscribe or listen at http://old.post-gazette.com/podcast.


TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook for breaking TV news.

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