“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” was created by Dan Goor and Michael Schur, both of whom had worked on “Parks and Recreation.” Though some of the creative DNA of the cop show felt similar enough to “Parks and Rec,” the casting of Braugher was both catnip to longtime TV fans and a sign that the show would have at least a bit more built-in gravitas. Braugher’s very presence communicated the idea that he would be a more authoritative leader figure than a Ron Swanson or even a Michael Scott, that the goofiness would typically begin with the lower-ranked cops as opposed to their boss. But as “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” grew beyond a version of a slob vs. snob battle, and Holt and Peralta began to share common ground, the show improved while also pushing Braugher to be goofier than anyone would have expected. 

Sometimes, it was as simple as Holt using his identity as a gay man to win an argument, as in the scene where he and Lt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) argue over who should ride a motorcycle. Another common source of humor was in how Holt revealed his passion for his dog, Cheddar, and was equally dismissive of a lot of other dogs. In another scene, part of one of the show’s annual Halloween heists, Holt realizes to his dismay that someone has replaced his real dog with “a common b**ch”.

Those Halloween heists — in which Peralta, Holt, and eventually the entire main cast gets involved in cheerfully, intentionally ridiculous heists to prove who’s the better “detective/genius” — wound up being one of many ways in which Braugher’s ability to be as ridiculous as the rest of the ensemble. With hindsight, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is as much about how Peralta grows up through his romance with fellow detective Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) as it is about how Holt becomes more human through his interactions with his detectives. Braugher demonstrated that growth with ease and affection; even by the end of the show’s second season, his “robot captain” had become more human to the point of disturbing Peralta and Santiago when he was transferred by a rival out of the Nine-Nine.

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