6:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' Boss on Avoiding the 'Moonlighting' Curse With Jake and Amy
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season three premiere of Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine.]
Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine is no longer a will-they-or-won't-they comedy.
During the season three premiere, Jake (Andy Samberg) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) took their new relationship to the next level, though they at least briefly attempted to pump the brakes on their romance.
Elsewhere, Bill Hader's new captain was short-lived (zing!) and replaced by Nine-Nine nemesis the Vulture (Dean Winters), who immediately set his sights on Jake. Capt. Holt (Andre Braugher), meanwhile, is tasked with going head to head (again) with Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick) as he struggles to adjust to a loss of power.
Here, exec producer Dan Goor talks with The Hollywood Reporter about avoiding the Moonlighting curse with Jake and Amy, how long Holt will be MIA from the precinct and more.
The premiere was a pretty ambitious reset, in a way. How will this help set the stage for what's to come?
I think the next few episodes are very strong. The next episode is the funeral for Bill Hader's character and that's a really fun episode. And the third episode is one of the strongest episodes we've ever done. It's got a great premise: Charles (Joe Lo Truglio) falls for a woman he meets in the hallway of a courthouse and is about to ask her out when he finds out she's being sentenced to 10 years in prison. So Jake and Charles are on a quest to prove her innocence, and it's a really funny story. The A, B and C story are all really funny. The start of the season is really strong, but the premiere I'm really happy with. It's very difficult to answer all the questions we set up in the finale.
How long will Dean Winters' Vulture be sticking around? It's a bit jarring to see anyone but Holt running the Nine-Nine.
It is jarring. Our hope is that it's a little bit jarring and that it jars the characters a little bit. Holt comes back to the precinct after a few episodes.
When the show first started, much of it was about Jake facing adversity with a new captain. How will things be different with the Vulture?
In some ways, Jake's relationship with the Vulture will be a reset. He's become somewhat friendly with Holt and one of the exciting things about bringing the Vulture in is the increased downward pressure on Jake and the gang. Not only is it downward pressure, it's different downward pressure than Holt provided because it's not just a commitment to excellence and lack of patience for shenanigans; the Vulture just doesn't like them or Jake. So Jake has to deal with boss who is a real schmuck.
Will Jake realize he's lost yet another father figure with Holt gone?
Yes, right off the bat. Even in the finale, you can see it on Jake's face. Jake has grown to really care about and respect Holt. He is very driven and wants Holt back. That is his dream: to have Holt back.
How will the Vulture force the Nine-Nine to work together as a unit?
It's not that he forces them to work together as a unit; it's that he has comically horrible relationships with each and every member of the precinct — and we explore those relationships in different episodes.
Shifting to Jake and Amy, how much trepidation did you and the writers have about getting them together romantically once and for good?
Let's not say for good! (Laughs.) That's definitely not something we've decided on. There was trepidation about doing it but there was also trepidation about keeping them apart. It feels like there's no playbook for these kinds of relationships that doesn't leave someone — or everyone — disappointed. We felt we'd done a pretty good job of building toward this moment and having their flirtations happen. Once they kissed and liked each other, we made it a big deal that they're able to talk to one another — that's something that they've done on previous episodes. Jake has told her how he feels, not always immediately but always eventually. We felt eventually it'd be unrealistic and frustrating to keep them apart when they liked each other and there weren't huge obstacles to keep them apart. The other reason we were excited for it, even if we are always a little worried about any kind of move like that, was that their personalities make for a funny odd couple pairing. There's comedy to be mined in them together just as there was comedy to be mined in them not together.
What trials and tribulations will they face as a couple? How will their relationship change the dynamic at the precinct?
The trials and tribulations they face are twofold. One is that the Vulture doesn't like them and is able to target them because of their relationship. Two, it's a workplace comedy and we're trying to explore, to some extent, the troubles and comedy involved in having a relationship with someone with whom you work: What happens when you have a fight at home and come to work and you're assigned to case together? Those are the things it seems like fun to explore.
Will we see Jake and Amy meet each other's parents? Could Bradley Whitford return as Jake's father?
There are no plans in the immediate future for Bradley Whitford to come back and we haven't written an episode where they meet the parents, but that is a card that's on the writers' room board and something we really want to explore. We're about to break the Christmas episode and it feels like that's around the time that kind of thing could happen. I don't want to promise it, but I think it'd be fun. We'd love to have Bradley back. It's just a question of what story works, especially given that Jake told him to grow up before they contacted each other again.
How do you not suffer from the "Moonlighting curse" with Jake and Amy now that they're a go, romantically?
I was big fan of Moonlighting and so in no way am I knocking Moonlighting, but I think the design of that show was the will-they-or-won't-they tension between them, or their pre-dating relationship. Once they were together, that resolved the very central tension of that show. The Jake-Amy relationship was never the central tension of our show. It's just an element of it. Hopefully there are many other angles still to play and hopefully we're able to bring comedy to that relationship. It's not like every episode is going to be a Jake and Amy episode, whereas every episode of a show like Moonlighting — where that was a central relationship — every episode was about their relationship on some level. We do Jake-Amy stories generally every four or five episodes or more. Hopefully that won't be an issue.
You toyed with breaking Jake and Amy up in the premiere. Do you see anything standing in their way?
There are obstacles. The next episode has an obstacle in the Vulture. Then for a while it's smooth sailing and but then the kind of obstacles we face are working with the person you date, and this becoming one of the longest or most committed relationships that either one has had — so sort of normal work relationship tribulations. It turns out the NYPD does allow detectives to date. There isn't a Leslie-Ben [from Goor and Mike Schur's Parks and Recreation] hard-and-fast rule to provide that kind of obstacle.
Speaking of Parks and Rec, how do you compare Jake and Amy's trajectory to Parks and Recreation's Ben (Adam Scott) and Leslie (Amy Poehler)?
On Parks and Rec, Leslie and Ben were incredibly simpatico — they both loved government and organization and nerdy things — and we mined that for comedy. Jake and Amy, on the other hand, are more of an odd couple and their comedy as a couple will come from putting them in situations that highlight their differences.
I love Holt's dynamic with Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick) but it's weird to see him losing to her. How will he deal with his loss of power? Is there any possibility they both could be permanent fixtures at the Nine-Nine?
To answer the first part of the question, that is the mini-arc of the first part of the season: how does he deal with being vanquished? How does he deal with this comedown after living the dream of running a precinct, which has been his dream for 20 years? Hopefully we've found funny ways for him to deal with it — funny stories to put him in that speak to that tension, like wearing the pigeon costume in the premiere. In the third episode, we do a story that touches on the NYPD's lack of popularity and his attempts to redress people's grievances and, at first, his misguided attempts, and then his more sensible and somewhat more powerful or relevant attempts to deal with the current state of what's going on in his capacity in PR.
Boyle (Truglio) also has two big love interests coming this season, with Archie Panjabi and Mary-Lynn Rajskub. How much is he trying to find his person this season now that he's lost his "wingman" in Jake?
He hasn't lost his wingman; Jake and Charles are still great together and they're still in a bunch of stories together. We're playing Charles as a very enthusiastic proponent of the Jake-Amy relationship instead of being jealous or forlorn about it. Although that's not to say we couldn't do a story later where he feels like he doesn't see his buddy. The Archie thing is totally fun. Mary-Lynn is fantastic in the third episode. We're breaking the ninth right now and she's also in the fifth episode. But I think maybe around Christmas, it may be fun to bring her back.
Comedy has become even more challenging on broadcast. How are you approaching this season of Brooklyn? Do you see an endgame?
I wish I could say that we had a long-term plan, because I think it would make life a lot easier. We just always try to make the best episodes that we can make and make the season itself as compelling as possible. I know that sounds like a trite and clichéd answer, but all we can really do or pay attention to is making the episodes great and making them things we're proud of and want to watch. And we want to watch things that are exciting and have cliffhangers, and that's why we write them in. We've had a great relationship with Fox, so hopefully we're not a bubble show. Fox could pick us up for 10 years and I think we would still approach show same way — like every episode's ratings matter.
Any other guest stars coming up?
Eventually in the first half of the season, we're going to meet Holt's ex-boyfriend. That's a fun character to meet, their relationship is … tense.
What did you think of Brooklyn Nine-Nine's return? Sound off in the comments below. The series airs Sundays on Fox.