by Julian Spivey
ABC’s “The Rookie” kicked off its fourth season with a devastating shock to the fans and ultimately one of the show’s best episodes to date.
Season three of the series ended with Det. Angela Lopez (Alyssa Diaz) being kidnapped before her wedding by cartel leader Sandra “La Fiera” De La Cruz (Camille Guaty), as revenge for not being able to protect her son from being killed (and Lopez’s rather callous reaction to it).
Within the first few minutes of the season premiere “Life and Death,” written by showrunner Alexi Hawley, we realize Officer Jackson West (Titus Makin Jr.) has been killed by being shot in the back trying to resist being kidnapped along with Lopez. It comes as a shock to viewers because West is an original cast member of the series, played a crucial role in the show’s third season and unlike many cast changes during the summer is one that was kept underwraps well by the show.
It’s disappointing to see the character killed off “The Rookie,” but with Makin choosing to leave the show and how season three ended the show didn’t really have much of an option when it came to the character’s fate.
I will say I’m a bit fed up with actors abruptly leaving shows at the moment, as this is something Fox’s “The Resident” is also having to deal with right now, to a much worse extent.
Officer West’s death is particularly hard on Sergeant Gray (Richard T. Jones), who was a bit of a father figure to him, and Officer Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neil), a longtime friend and roommate of his. One of the best scenes of the episode is when Grey captures West’s killer and has this moment of whether or not he’s going to get revenge by killing him.
While Grey and Chen are focused on finding West’s killer, Officer John Nolan (Nathan Fillion), Officer Tim Bradford (Eric Winter) and Det. Nyla Harper (Mekia Cox) head to Guatemala where La Fiera is holding the very pregnant Lopez with the intention of kidnapping the child upon its birth and raising it as her own as replacement for her deceased son.
Yes, it’s bit of a ‘Rambo’-esque move for “The Rookie” to make with three Los Angeles police officers going to a foreign country to save one of their own and some fans online have an issue with that, but it’s a television show I don’t expect everything to be completely realistic. I think the high-stakes action plotline of the premiere made for one of the show’s most thrilling episodes to date.
The only real criticism of the episode is that many of the characters don’t really seem to be taking West’s death all that hard - or as hard as you’d expect - but it’s probably because they’re mostly focused on not losing another friend in Lopez. Hopefully the show will delve deeper into the grief felt by the officers going forward, but as the episode ends with a three month time jump there’s a chance we won’t get to see this take place.
by Julian Spivey
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” ended its eight season, two network (Fox and NBC) run on Thursday, Sept. 16 with “The Last Day,” a finale that truly had something for every fan of network television’s best sitcom of the last decade.
The final season of the show was a bit hit or miss, though with more hits and the biggest miss being that it only ended up being nine episodes, but there was nothing to really complain about with “The Last Day.”
The episode begins with the Nine-Nine’s final heist – where all our favorite characters compete in one final epic game to determine the best heister of the precinct. The show’s heist episodes, which they did on almost a yearly-basis, often proved to be among the show’s highlights.
We find out early in the episode that this final heist is really just an elaborate way for Det. Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) to say goodbye to the precinct, as he’s made the decision to become a stay at home dad, as wife and co-worker Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) takes an important promotion within the NYPD.
There were some things I feel like all fans of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” wanted from the finale – to be heist related, to see Capt. Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) get one more sick Madelyn Wunch burn in and the return of Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti), Holt’s ex-assistant who left the series in its sixth season.
There were also as couple of nice, heartfelt cameos in the finale that I didn’t even realize until after the viewing: the precinct’s janitor Dan is portrayed by series co-creator Dan Goor and the random Berlin Philharmonic cellist Holt includes in the heist game is played by Samberg’s real-life wife and multi-instrumentalist Joanna Newsom.
I don’t want to get too into what happens within the heist just in case some reading haven’t gotten around to watching the episode yet, but it’s fulfilling.
The most touching moment of the finale for me as a longtime fan of the series is the final heart-to-heart moment between Capt. Holt and Jake, a duo that’s always played well off each other despite the immense differences between the characters. These two were peanut butter and caviar (I’m sure you can guess which is which), but it always just made for the perfect laugh.
Braugher’s performance as Holt was my absolute favorite on any long-running TV comedy over the last decade. Braugher was always known for dramatic rolls, especially his Emmy-winning turn on NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Streets” in the ‘90s and it surprised many to see him among the cast of a broad comedy. But his dry reading of Holt and the writing staff’s completely owning of the character from day one made the character an all-time great. Braugher has been nominated four times for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance and will be eligible for a fifth in 2022 for the final season, but if he finishes his run without an Emmy win (which is highly likely) it’ll be one of the greatest performances ever to never win.
The entire cast of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” was incredible and importantly it was maybe the most diverse cast on television. I know some are going to roll their eyes at that sentence but seeing all sorts of folks together as one on TV is not just hopeful, but honestly realistic.
I was never really going to be ready to let “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” go, as I still felt it was even in its eighth season one of the best comedies on television. But the show went out as well as it possibly could, and it did so by remaining true to itself and not going for some sort of television altering creative finale (which it pokes fun at in a scene where Jake is tricked into thinking he’s been in a coma for seven years). Well done “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” I salute you.
by Julian Spivey
I think we all have “our guys” when it comes to comedy. Comedians who’s sense of humor just hits us or we identify with because it’s like our own – or maybe because they have shaped our humor with their own.
David Letterman has been “my guy” for as long as I can remember. In the summers when I was younger, I could stay up later than during the school year and this meant I could watch Letterman’s ‘Late Show’ on CBS five nights a week for two-and-a-half months. When I became a college student in 2006, I could watch it year-round.
I identified with Letterman’s dry wit, which came off as intelligent, but also mixed in some silliness along the way. It wasn’t long after getting into Letterman that I became familiar with “Saturday Night Live” via re-runs on Comedy Central that would show mostly episodes from the entirety of the ‘90s, including those three glorious seasons when Norm Macdonald was the anchor of Weekend Update, the mock news segment that poked fun at the biggest stories of the day. Macdonald was a lot like Letterman when it came to the dry sense of humor but was a bit darker (which really came out more in his stand-up than his television appearances), and this matter-of-fact “I don’t care if you like me or not” way of reading jokes about the biggest news stories of the day, particularly the O.J. Simpson trial, just tickled me. Macdonald was the rare comedian who made you laugh by occasionally turning off the live audience, like he was speaking instead directly to you watching from home.
He became another one of “my guys.” Reading so much about him today from fellow comedians and fans after his surprising death at 61 after a nine-year battle with cancer that he kept secret it seems he was “my guy” to an awful lot of people. That makes me incredibly happy. Though I’m not sure he would’ve cared all that much.
A lot of people felt Macdonald was the greatest Weekend Update anchor of all-time. Another thing Macdonald likely was was the greatest late night talk show guest of all-time, or at least of his era, particularly guest spots with Letterman and on all of Conan O’Brien’s shows, where he was regaling the audience with some long meandering story that you’d often wonder if there was a point or a punchline, but the trip was always well worth taking. His “The Moth” story on one of Conan’s shows is the stuff of legend. His appearance on Letterman after his firing from ‘SNL’ is legendary and the two men together on that episode are the epitome of “not giving a fuck.”
My favorite Macdonald late night talk show appearance was his final stand-up routine on Letterman’s ‘Late Show’ in 2015 where he got choked up talking about how much Letterman meant to him. I know the feeling was mutual between the two. Letterman released a statement following Macdonald’s death on Tuesday, Sept. 13 that read: “In every important way, in the world of stand-up, Norm was the best. An opinion shared by me and all peers. Always up to something, never certain, until his matter-of-fact delivery leveled you. I was always delighted by his bizarre mind and earnest gaze.”
A few months after Macdonald’s final appearance on Letterman’s show I had the true honor of getting to see him perform live on stage with his friend and former ‘SNL’ co-star Kevin Nealon with my brother and a close friend, who’d always shared a love for Macdonald’s comedic style.
It was everything I wanted from a Macdonald performance. He could open his mouth and stutter gibberish (and sometimes did) and I’d still find it the funniest thing ever – he just had that kind of hold on my funny bone.
Nothing shocks me any more in this world we’re living in. Even though you expected anything and everything with Norm Macdonald he was still capable of shocking you with a devastating punchline. Now he’s dead. It’s not a good punchline, but it’s shocking and the set up was fantastic.