Police banality: why Brooklyn Nine-Nine is no longer arresting

When Brooklyn Nine-Nine premiered in the UK in 2014, the last thing we needed was another cop show. Broadchurch, The Fall and Line of Duty had turned the police procedural into a serious dramatic proposition, while Law & Order: UK, Lewis and New Tricks lumbered dutifully on. But Dan Goor and Michael Schur’s series was different, not least because it was a sitcom that was only loosely about policing. Despite sporadic car chases, court cases and surveillance operations, fighting crime has never been the point of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which, in its knockabout portrait of workplace camaraderie, could just as easily have been set in a hospital or an office.

The early focus was on Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta, a wisecracking detective with an aversion to wearing ties, although it soon became a smart ensemble piece featuring the brilliantly deadpan Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher); ambitious, uptight Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero); goofy gourmand Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio); hardnut Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz); and desk sergeant Terry (Terry Crews), who loves the job so much he called his children Cagney and Lacey. The queen of this close-knit yet dysfunctional precinct was the civilian administrator Gina (Chelsea Peretti), known for her smartphone addiction and withering vocal fry.

Right from the start, the talk was fast, the script fresh and the sight gags played to perfection. Nine-Nine buzzwords (“Noice”) and catchphrases (“Cool, cool, c-c-c-cool”) took off, while Holt’s putdowns – “Captain Wuntch, good to see you. But if you’re here, who’s guarding Hades?” – each launched a thousand memes. Even Samberg’s smart-arsery stayed just on the right side of smackable. But then Cupid shot his arrow and it all began to unravel.

Clearly, the will-they, won’t-they tension of Peralta and Santiago’s friendship couldn’t go on indefinitely. In their relationship’s early stages, the writers took care not to allow it to mess with the business of funny, but all that changed when the couple got hitched in a gag-free instalment involving an obsessive ex-boyfriend, a trampled bridal veil and a bomb threat. Next we were forced to join them on honeymoon to a luxury Mexican resort where – what are the odds? – they ran into Captain Holt nursing a midlife crisis. Later, an entire episode was given over to the couple as they debated the wisdom of having kids. Since then, in what has fast become the Jake’n’Amy show, fertility issues have been followed by pregnancy. Worse still, Gina, the jewel in Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s comic crown, has left the show.

Two years ago, Fox dropped the series, to a chorus of devastated wailing from fans and celebs including Mark Hamill, Lin-Manuel Miranda (who played Amy’s brother David in the show) and Guillermo del Toro, prompting NBC to swoop in. Would that the network’s commissioning team had been napping that day. To have ended Brooklyn Nine-Nine after its fifth season would have allowed it to go out on a beautiful high. In the event, in its NBC afterlife, it has become merely adequate and that, truly, is a crime.