Chicago-native Andre Braugher looked more relaxed than he usually does sitting behind the desk of Capt. Ray Holt, the no-nonsense “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” character that landed him an Emmy nod.
Braugher, his cast mates and the show’s co-creators, Dan Goor and Mike Schur (“Parks and Recreation”), took a break from filming on this Wednesday in July to welcome reporters onto the cop comedy’s L.A. set during TV critics’ press tour.
The Golden Globe-winning sitcom starts its sophomore season on Fox Sept. 28.
Star Andy Samberg also took home a Golden Globe this year for his turn as the lovably goofy Det. Jake Peralta, the ring leader of the precinct’s quirky ensemble of oddballs played by Chelsea Peretti, Melissa Fumero, Terry Crews, Stephanie Beatriz and Joe Lo Truglio, as well as Joel McKinnon and Dirk Blocker — both promoted to series regulars this season.
Braugher serves as the gay straight man on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” The St. Ignatius grad already has an Emmy for playing a different cop: Det. Frank Pembleton on “Homicide: Life on the Street.” That was a drama. This is a comedy. And comedy, at least as far as Braugher is concerned, is a taller order.
“You can pretend to be dramatic but you can’t pretend to be funny,” he said. “I have to actually learn how to be funny, watch these guys like a hawk and learn from them.”
There was plenty of funny to go around during the set visit, where cast and creators did a Q & A with reporters while a stenographer dutifully typed every word. (It’s customary for critics to get transcripts of the press tour sessions, hence the stenographer.)
“There’s some old-timey stenography happening up here,” Schur said when he noticed the woman at work in the front row.
“Everything is all going to be entered into a court of law,” Goor chimed in.
“She won’t talk to us,” Peretti commented as the woman continue to type away, trying hard not to smile.
“She’s the best,” Samberg deadpanned. “Don’t question it.”
Schur: “Watch this: I am a stenographer. I am a stenographer. I am a stenographer.”
“She’s still writing it,” he added in mild amazement. “Your boss is going to think you went crazy.”
Peretti: “I resign. I resign. I resign.”
Goor: “My boss is a pig.”
“She can’t write that one!” Fumero said. (Oh yes she can. And she did.)
The frivolity continued as Goor and Schur fielded questions about the upcoming season. It starts with a time jump after last season’s finale — an episode that had Jake (Samberg) professing his romantic feelings for Amy (Fumero), a horrified Gina (Peretti) waking up in bed next to Charles (Lo Truglio), and Jake pretending to be fired from the force in order to take an undercover assignment.
Schur: “It does not pick up right where we left off,” Schur said.
Goor: “Into the year 2345 — a terrible era.”
Schur: “None of these people are in the show.”
Goor: “Everyone has gills.”
Schur and Goor both come from the NBC comedy “Parks and Rec,” a series that underwent a pretty extreme makeover between seasons one and two. Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, for example, morphed from unlikable and inept to endearing and capable, and the series became much better because of it.
“This show found its footing very quickly,” Schur said about “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” adding that it helped to have a full, 22-episode freshman season as opposed to the half dozen episodes that made up season one of “Parks and Rec.”
“You’re always changing and poking and prodding and trying to figure out exactly what the magic formula is,” Schur said, “but it happened very quickly here.”
Samberg’s character hasn’t had as radical a transformation as Leslie Knope did, but Jake did do some evolving during the show’s freshman run.
“For all my favorite shows, comedy or otherwise, you do watch your characters grow,” Samberg said. “Part of the joy for me performing it last season was that Jake does mature slightly and does grow up a little … But at the core, he’s just a silly person and has that sort of zest for the job and for his life and sort of screwing around with the people that he’s near. Even if he does mature, I don’t see it as a direct conflict with the tone of what hopefully is making him funny.”
That’s when a reporter raised the point that undercover police work, which Jake entered into at the end of last season, tends to be more serious and darker than your typical comedic fare.
“We are going super dark,” Schur said.
“Jake will kill,” Goor added, playing along.
Schur: “It’s going to make ‘Law & Order: SVU’ look like a cartoon. It’s super bleak.”
Goor: “The second episode is just called ‘Tears.’ That’s how we feel the audience will be afterwards.”
Schur’s final words at the set visit Q&A: “I am a stenographer.”