TV viewers often feel profound sadness when their favorite shows end. Beloved characters become part of our lives, and we can occasionally be deeply affected by their fates. Although Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s one-week absence did not leave a Tony Soprano-sized hole in my heart, I have to admit I did miss the gang more than expected. Universal affection for several of a series’ characters might not necessarily indicate the quality of programming, but there is almost certainly a correlation between it and continued viewership. And it’s fortunate that the characters are as likable as they are because “48 Hours” did not inspire a ton of confidence in the future creativity of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s plot lines.
In “48 Hours,” Jake arrests his old nemesis (apparently), Dustin Whitman (Kid Cudi in a guest role) based on a diamond-theft crime scene matching Whitman’s pattern but without any hard evidence. Or perhaps simply because Whitman sassed Peralta. (Aside: A 48 Hours remake starring Andy Samberg and Kid Cudi wouldn’t be the worst thing ever.) Per the law (again, apparently), the detectives in precinct 99 must track down sufficient evidence within 48 hours to make the arrest stick or else the department will face a lawsuit for wrongful arrest. Both the high-school lock-in scenario that follows and Peralta’s interrogations of Whitman would seem ripe with opportunities for laughs, but on the whole they feel uncapitalized upon (Peralta’s admittedly amusing retort “You have changed. You used to go straight to prison!” notwithstanding).
The star of the episode by a wide margin is Terry, who makes full use of the premise and his simultaneous domestic stressors—his even-bigger brother-in-law (played by 6’8” former NFL player Jamal Duff) treats him like a wimp—by pulling a full 48-hour shift in the office. Simple sight gags such as Terry falling asleep doing chin-ups are complemented by great quips: “Tired Terry still gets after it. That’s all I’m saying. Twenty-five minutes of chin-ups on muscle memory alone.” You have to figure eventually the writers are going to run out of ways to turn Crews’ body into humor, but seven episodes in, they’re still mining it for comedy gold. Jeffords also produces other laugh-out-loud moments in the episode, including his Jim Carrey-esque attempts to stifle a yawn and his demands for organization and completeness in evaluating the pie war raging between Rosa and Gina.
Despite Terry’s comic virtuosity, the episode felt stale. Rosa even acknowledges that Peralta is always right before they had any evidence against Whitman, and it has never felt at any point that Peralta was going to truly fail. And, indeed, he defuses the bomb right as the countdown hits 00:00, thereby saving the day. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is not a drama, obviously, but the teensiest bit of suspense wouldn’t kill the mood, either, and consistently following the same formula for how the criminal investigations unfold will eventually become tedious. The rest of the supporting cast—Diaz, Boyle, Santiago and Holt—all pretty much tread water. They’re certainly not unfunny, but they don’t contribute in a significant way to the episode or their respective characters. Of course, this is acceptable because we like these characters, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine should not settle for “acceptable” when “good” and “great” are clearly within its grasp.