When it comes to Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher), anything resembling sarcasm does not fly. The New Girl staff learned that when writing the Brooklyn Nine-Nine crossover airing tonight on Fox. “On our show, Holt has said that ‘sarcasm is the coward’s lie,’ and that he isn’t sarcastic,” Brooklyn Nine-Nine executive producer Dan Goor said. “It was a totally good joke that they’d written, and totally in the voice of the character, except for the fact that we’d set up this rule.” In interviews with The A.V. Club, the showrunners of the Fox sitcoms described the hoop jumping required to meld the worlds of Jess Day (Zooey Deschanel) and Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg). Because come Tuesday night, she will enter his life, armed with a container of hot liquid and a terrible attitude about New York.
The first step was deciding where the crossover would be set because, while both shows shoot in Los Angeles, they take place on different coasts. Ultimately, it made more sense for the New Girl folks to head to the Big Apple, especially given that Brooklyn Nine-Nine was just coming off a three-part season opener during which Jake and Captain Holt were sequestered in Florida in witness protection. “We really wanted our entire crew to be in New York in the fourth episode and the fourth episode was going to be the crossover,” Goor said. “We pleadingly asked everyone if the crossover could take place in New York and they very obligingly said yes.” On the New Girl side, Brett Baer and Dave Finkel knew it also made more sense to have a group of close friends who live in a loft together travel than to ship a bunch of cops to Los Angeles. “It was either that or meet in St. Louis,” Baer quipped. Being on the East Coast also gave the New Girl folks another chance to dive into Schmidt’s (Max Greenfield’s) past as he returns to Long Island for an alumni event at his high school.
So how do the roomies end up in the vicinity of Brooklyn? Well, the geography requires a little suspension of disbelief if you live in the tristate area, but it involves Jess being tasked with getting Schmidt some soup from a very specific deli. After obtaining it, she’s accosted by Jake, who needs her car to catch a perp. That interaction takes place in the Nine-Nine episode, which airs first, and is revisited and expanded upon in the New Girl episode as Jess finds herself dealing with precinct bureaucracy, meaning she’s subjected to Gina (Chelsea Peretti). In a different part of town, a stranded Winston (Lamorne Morris) and Nick (Jake Johnson) encounter an excitable Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) in a subway station. More of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine cast appears in the New Girl episode than visa versa. But, no, the fact that Winston is also a cop does not come up. “When it first got announced, that was the first thing everybody said to us,” Baer said. Not making Winston’s profession a plot point was their “attempt to kind of try to do something that you weren’t expecting.”
Without giving too much away, both half hours feature emotional turns for the series’ leads. Jake acclimates to after his time away, while Jess overcomes her issues with New York, realizing that they stem from a moment in her past that will be recognizable to loyal viewers. “Here we had the incredible city of New York that all of us who’ve had a chance to live there or visit know can be really difficult and a monster, and if you let it get you, it will, and it really requires an inner resolve and a personal strength,” Baer said. “So it seemed like the perfect obstacle for Jess to have at this moment to have to confront.” And then it gets even “more intrapersonal” for the heroine.
Goor described writing the episodes as a “highly highly highly iterative process.” The staffs would send their scripts back and forth to one another, running material by each other all the way through shooting, which also required dealing with actors’ busy schedules. They all had to be careful not to shortchange the other show’s characters in the jokes department, all the while figuring out how to meld the disparate tones. “Their style is very different than ours, their comic beats are very different than ours,” Finkel noted. “So, it was fun for us to sort of open it up and find new avenues and see how our players played against theirs.” When it came down to what made it into the episode, New Girl folks had final say over what New Girl characters said, and the same went for Brooklyn Nine-Nine. “It was kind of a fun puzzle, because our goal was to not rewrite their work for their own characters,” Baer said. And, when we spoke, everyone was complimentary. “They wrote very good scenes with our people, and they certainly didn’t tell us that we’d insulted them in any way,” Goor said.
The episodes air at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Fox.