Crossover episodes are a tricky business in general, what with combining various comedic stylings and separate ongoing storylines into one cohesive program. The very thought of two writers’ rooms joining up for one episode in a season filled with 20-plus is either a daunting task or an exciting creative opportunity. So Fox’s decision to shift the weight of the crossover story to one show — “New Girl,” as it turns out — may have been a safe choice, but the end result unevenly favored the show less tampered with.
Fans of the Zooey Deschanel-starring Fox comedy may have been a bit frustrated watching nearly 20 minutes of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” before their favorite fictional L.A. teacher showed up in New York. The episode, titled “The Night Shift,” ran largely unaltered until Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) needed to commandeer a vehicle while pursuing a subject, and he happened to stop a car driven by Jessica Day (Deschanel).
[Spoilers for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s” “The Night Shift” and “New Girl’s” “Homecoming” below.]
Even next to the typically immature Peralta, Jess looked like an idiot. Complaining first about how New York had it out for her and then about how the detective should “serve and protect” her soup, the oft-flustered pixie dream girl — who once championed the legal system so forcefully she ended up sequestered for three months — was finally silenced when Jake made a comment that needed to be heeded by the writers: “You’re making a point you don’t even believe in.”
Aside from this seemingly random aside, however, “The Night Shift” ran quite smoothly. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has been on a tear since the end of last season, successfully implementing a serialized arc that put Jake and Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) in witness protection, relocating the duo to Florida while the squad back in Brooklyn tried to help get them back. While that story largely wrapped up last week, seeing how the gang changed when confronted with a new sleep schedule proved to be an enlivening episodic curveball.
Terry (played by Terry Crews) was particularly funny, as the disciplined do-gooder lost all decorum when faced with the night shift, and Amy (Melissa Fumero) coping with Rosa’s (Stephanie Beatriz) newfound emotions provided warm and amusing insight to the hard-ass detective’s love life. So after a half-hour, fans may have felt cheated by a legitimate crossover, but they should have at least enjoyed their time in Brooklyn.
Nearly the exact opposite could be said for “New Girl’s” follow-up episode, “Homecoming.” Awkwardly packed with “Brooklyn” characters and featuring the thinnest of thin reasons for the L.A. natives to travel across the country, the back half of what was billed as an hour-long event paid the price for network synergy.
Arriving in New York to attend a celebration at Schmidt’s (Max Greenfield) high school, the gang quickly sets up their individual arcs in rather blunt exposition right outside of JFK. Schmidt is there to set the record straight after being bullied by his fellow youths. Cece (Hannah Simone) is trying to prove herself as a worthy companion to her hubby, especially in comparison to his overly attentive mother (Nora Dunn). Meanwhile, Jess is just hoping to have a good time in a city that bested her the last time.
And don’t get me started on Nick (Jake Johnson) and Winston’s (Lamorne Morris) B-story. The two most frugal (to put it politely) characters not only dropped a pretty penny on cross-country flights, but then became “men of means” and blew even more money on food? Since when do they care about food, and since when are they willing to spend money? We’re talking about characters who’ve spent not one but two episodes fighting over a debt between them. Sure, they both have better jobs now — Nick owns part of his bar and Winston’s a cop — but these are two lovably shameless penny pinchers who should have been begging for subway money even before they blew their travel budget.
But I digress. Overall, the episode didn’t add up to much — Jess likes New York now! Schmidt has more confidence! — but it also wasted its comedic possibilities. The key to crossovers is identifying comedic pairings, and seeing our de facto leads together (Jessica and Jake) seems like a good idea, but it didn’t pay off. Moreover, parading Jess through the precinct may be the most logical step in terms of connecting five L.A. natives with the Brooklyn P.D., but the only other connection was between Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), Nick and Winston, which had no pay off.
Why didn’t Schmidt’s Type A personality get to mix it up with the Queen of Not Caring, Gina? Even seeing him bond with Amy over the most efficient filing organization techniques would have been better than Nick jumping a pile of trash in front of an uninvolved Boyle. And why not let Winston, an L.A. cop, compare and contrast job duties with his fellow boys in blue from N.Y.? Finally, seeing the ultimate goofball go toe-to-toe with the ultimate straight-face — Nick and Captain Holt, respectfully — seems like too obvious a pairing to ignore.
Logistical issues aside, there’s no reason this unnecessary crossover couldn’t have been better — for “New Girl.” While the safe play of restricting crossover characters in the first half-hour helped “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” maintain its integrity, and “New Girl” was overweighted with incorporating too many synergy-satisfying stories, the scenes blending both series could have at least acknowledged their best combinations. Though no one was begging to see “New Girl” mix with “Brooklyn,” that doesn’t mean it lacked potential.