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Was it really a good idea to save Brooklyn Nine-Nine?

Commentary: When shows are brought back thanks to fan pressure, they usually suck. Will Brooklyn Nine-Nine suffer the same fate?


I'm still haunted by HBO's decision to cancel Deadwood.

Deadwood was an unparalleled masterpiece. The phrase "prestige TV" is worn thin, but Deadwood was prestige in every sense. The writing, the dialogue, the zingers, the themes. Deadwood was a peerless study of civilisation borne from chaos and every step was an f-ing adventure.

In 2006, after three incredible seasons, HBO decided it wasn't going to renew Deadwood. Unresolved plotlines would remain unresolved, f-bombs would go unbombed -- it was as if a million cocksuckers cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Even now, 12 years later, I often wonder what a season four of Deadwood might have looked like, how its various threads could have been tied. But maybe it was for the best. I'll remember Deadwood as one of the greatest television shows ever made. Plans to reboot Deadwood often resurface then fizzle. I hope they never come to fruition. Because as it currently stands, Deadwood will never disappoint me.

But the same can't be said of Futurama. Or Arrested Development or Community. Or any number of shows that were cancelled and then -- in the aftermath of fan fury -- resuscitated and reanimated to walk the earth, feasting on the brains of those who once loved them.

Which is a long-winded way of asking: Was it really a good idea to bring back Brooklyn Nine-Nine? Shouldn't it just be left to die in its prime years, to leave a glorious corpse?

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is, of course, the much beloved comedy show starring Andy Samberg and Terry Crews. Or, as I like to call it, Police Scrubs. Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn't terrible. In fact it's often funny and loaded with sharp social commentary. It's a perfectly fine television show that many people enjoy. After being cancelled by Fox, we had the the prerequisite social media outrage and then the inevitable renewal. Tan-ta-tan! Here comes NBC to save the day!


But history doesn't paint the most optimistic picture for Brooklyn Nine-Nine's future. In fact, the odds of the show's quality surviving a cancellation and a network shift are slim at best. There are a handful of success stories when it comes to extending or rebooting once-cancelled shows, but it's far easier to name shows that either flat-out sucked, or slowly made their way into the mire of mediocrity.

It makes sense, right? Networks are faceless, bloodthirsty conglomerates that enjoy crushing our hopes and dreams, but they also like money. And successful shows bring in money. That might equal lowest-common-denominator garbage like Young Sheldon or According to Jim, but it does beg the question: If it didn't make financial sense to cancel Brooklyn Nine-Nine, why did Fox cancel it? Brooklyn Nine-Nine wasn't exactly decreasing in quality, but it wasn't gathering steam a la Seinfeld either.

Perhaps Fox was right? Better to burn out than fade away.

The X-Files, Community, Arrested Development ... why do television shows almost always become worse after being "saved"? I suspect it might have something to do with the hysteria that saves them. The tweets, the petitions, the social media screaming: It creates a criticism-free space the show has to occupy and -- in a sense -- cater to. Characters devolve into self-parody, shows become a gauche patchwork of in-jokes and nostalgia. "Oh that's so Ross". "That's so Rachel".

This is the fate of Peralta and Co. This is the end game. I can already see the GIFs.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is now in the precarious spot of being in debt to a core fan base that adores what it is right now. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is about to become The Rolling Stones of light situational comedy. It is written. Many have suffered the same fate.

It's a strange trap to be ensnared in. The only means of escape is subversion, which is difficult in a homely (albeit sharp) sitcom that trades on familiarity. Brooklyn Nine-Nine's only real option to not suck is to sabotage its own sense of nostalgia, make its audience uncomfortable. In short it has to pull a Twin Peaks and mess shit up.

And to be honest, I just can't see Brooklyn Nine-Nine killing off Jake Peralta and replacing him with a demonic arm-wrestling doppelganger who lives to sow the seeds of chaos. Despite the fact that would totally rule and they absolutely should do it.

BRB. I'm gonna start a petition. Mark Hamill, can you hook me up with a retweet?

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