Brook­lyn Nine-nine re­turns

Fas­ci­nat­ing doc­u­men­tary won spe­cial jury award for cre­ative vi­sion at Sun­dance Cop com­edy can­celled by Fox last May but res­ur­rected by NBC for sixth sea­son

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Ramell Ross’s Hale County This Morn­ing, This Evening earned an award at the 2018 Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val.

(out of 4)

Hale County This Morn­ing, This Evening, an award-win­ning doc­u­men­tary, vividly sketches African-amer­i­can lives on an Al­abama trek that by­passes stereo­types and nar­ra­tive con­ceit, pro­ceed­ing di­rectly to em­pa­thy.

It’s a blast of pure vis­ual po­etry from pho­tog­ra­pher turned doc maker Ramell Ross, who shot more than 1,300 hours of footage over five years, dis­till­ing his work to an al­most sur­real 76 min­utes.

This is one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing docs of the past year. It won a Spe­cial Jury Award for Cre­ative Vi­sion at Sun­dance 2018, where it had its world pre­miere.

Ross trav­els to the Black Belt of the Amer­i­can South — a ru­ral en­clave of nearly 15,760 peo­ple, and a racial makeup that was once mostly white but is now 60 per cent Black — to ex­am­ine and kick against stereo­typ­i­cal sto­ries and im­ages of Africanamer­i­can males.

Within the film’s de­cep­tively random struc­ture, two men and their fam­i­lies be­come the fo­cus.

Bas­ket­ball player Daniel Collins is hop­ing to par­lay his ath­letic skills into a bet­ter life out­side Hale County.

First stop: stud­ies at Selma Univer­sity, a Black Bi­ble col­lege.

New fa­ther Quincy Bryant, a high-school dropout strug­gling to raise his young son Kyrie with the boy’s mother, La­trenda “Boosie” Ash, also yearns for more.

Ross has spe­cial in­sights into the ac­tions and as­pi­ra­tions of Daniel and Quincy: his ca­reer re­sumé in­cludes bas­ket­ball coach and man­ager of a youth pro­gram. LOS AN­GE­LES—ON the set of NBC’S Brook­lyn Nine-nine, the cast goes through a pre­cisely chore­ographed se­quence of high-fives, in­clud­ing “the snake charmer,” a Pete Townsend gui­tar strum and a nolook, dou­ble-back­hand fist ex­plo­sion.

A su­pe­rior of­fi­cer, Ray Holt (An­dre Braugher) has de­vised “a spe­cial pun­ish­ment” for De­tec­tive Jake Per­alta (Andy Sam­berg), the tardy squad mem­ber left out of the chorus line.

“It was ab­so­lute hell,” the proper Holt tells Per­alta. “But it will be worse for you.”

It is de­li­cious tor­ture for the high-five afi­cionado, but metaphor­i­cally, it seems an ap­pro­pri­ate cel­e­bra­tion for Brook­lyn, a crit­i­cally ac­claimed but low-rated cop com­edy can­celled by Fox last May but res­ur­rected by NBC, which pro­duces the se­ries, for a sixth sea­son a day later.

Sam­berg says the pub­lic out­cry that fol­lowed the brief can­cel­la­tion — fea­tur­ing the likes of su­per­fans Lin-manuel Mi­randa, Mark Hamill and Guillermo del Toro — was a sur­prise.

“The in­ten­sity of their ap­pre­ci­a­tion caught us off guard a lit­tle bit and was maybe some­thing that had been sim­mer­ing be­neath the sur­face. The show get­ting can­celled gave ev­ery­one a fo­cus point to rally around,” says Sam­berg, sit­ting in the squad’s break room, a well-worn sanc­tu­ary adorned by a beaten-up bumper-pool ta­ble, a framed list of New York labour laws and an­cient cof­fee and candy ma­chines.

Brook­lyn writ­ers were pre­pared for the pos­si­bil­ity that the Sea­son 5 closer, in which Jake mar­ries his girl­friend Terry Crews as Terry Jef­fords, left, Melissa Fumero as Amy San­ti­ago, Andy Sam­berg as Jake Per­alta, Stephanie Beatriz as Rosa Diaz in Brook­lyn Nine-nine.

and very com­pet­i­tive col­league, Sgt. Amy San­ti­ago (Melissa Fumero), might be the se­ries fi­nale, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Dan Goor says.

“We ap­proached ev­ery other sea­son by mak­ing the cliffhanger as dra­matic as pos­si­ble,” he says. But May’s fi­nale was de­signed more as a “cel­e­bra­tion,” and to make the cliffhanger “not so dire or stress­ful” that can­cel­la­tion would have upset loyal fans. (The lin­ger­ing mys­tery, to be resolved in Thurs­day’s opener, is whether Cap­tain Holt gets pro­moted to po­lice com­mis­sioner.)

NBC’S re­prieve, for at least one 18-episode sea­son, al­lows Brook­lyn to ex­plore the cou­ple’s mar­riage, along with de­vel­op­ments in the lives and ca­reers of Holt, Sgt. Terry Jef­fords (Terry Crews) and de­tec­tives Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) and Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio).

Holt’s saucy civil­ian as­sis­tant, Gina Linetti, gets an elab­o­rate two-part send-off later this month, as Chelsea Peretti de­parts. (She might re­turn as a guest star.)

Brook­lyn’s near-death ex­pe­ri­ence re­vealed (and likely stoked) a deep pas­sion for the show.

The brief can­cel­la­tion “was in­cred­i­bly dra­matic and stress­ful and also won­der­ful and heart­warm­ing, be­cause we had the Tom-sawyer-athis-own-fu­neral

as­pect where we got to hear how much peo­ple in the world liked the show,” Goor says.

Cast and pro­duc­ers are es­pe­cially happy to land at NBC, which has given the se­ries a big pro­mo­tional push that in­cludes a Die Hard-style trailer play­ing off Jake’s fas­ci­na­tion with the movie.

“NBC has a long in­sti­tu­tional DNA with com­edy,” says Braugher.

“I feel like we’re in good hands. They’ve got con­fi­dence in the show. So much of what we’re do­ing here is go­ing to re­main stable. It’s the same stu­dio with the same set, the same cast, the same dress­ing room and the same writ­ers.”

The sea­son pre­miere fol­lows Jake and Amy on their hon­ey­moon, while next week’s sec­ond episode puts two back­ground fig­ures, Hitch­cock (Dirk Blocker) and Scully (Joel Mckin­non Miller), in the spot­light, with a flash­back that dou­bles as a hi­lar­i­ous take­off on ’80s TV cops.

Fa­mil­iar faces, such as the Pon­tiac Bandit (Craig Robin­son), re­turn and Brook­lyn picks up con­tin­u­ing sto­ry­lines, such as Rosa’s re­la­tion­ship with her par­ents af­ter she came out as bi­sex­ual last sea­son. The Hal­loween Heist, a fan favourite, will some­how re­turn, even though it’s well past trick-or-treat sea­son. WWW.THES­TAR.COM

Peretti’s de­par­ture story al­lows her to in­ter­act with all the other precinct char­ac­ters.

“I al­ways like do­ing phys­i­cal stuff (but) Gina, by the na­ture of be­ing at a desk and not be­ing a cop, fre­quently wasn’t able to get into high­stakes, phys­i­cal-com­edy sit­u­a­tions. That’s what I wanted. So I got to go out with Jake and get into some shenanigans. That was re­ally fun for me,” says Peretti, who says she’s leav­ing for “a hodge­podge of rea­sons” but de­clined to be spe­cific.

Brook­lyn also con­tin­ues to take on se­ri­ous is­sues. In one episode, the show ex­plores #Metoo and sex­ual mis­con­duct, as an in­ves­ti­ga­tion Jake and Amy are work­ing on re­minds Amy of ex­pe­ri­ences from her own life.

“Some of Amy’s his­tory comes out around that is­sue,” says Beatriz, who di­rected the episode. But “it’s not just Amy, it’s Jake. Here’s a mar­ried cou­ple mov­ing through this dis­cus­sion about some­thing re­ally painful, not just for her but for both of them. #Metoo isn’t just a women’s is­sue.”

Lo Truglio also di­rects the high-five episode while play­ing Boyle. It cre­ates an odd look on set as he of­fers guid­ance to ac­tors and crew while pack­ing a gun on his hip.

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