Well, wait, um, I’d say one adjustment we did make was we sort of adjusted Terry [Crews’] character [also named Terry] a bit because our original idea for him was that he was a completely broken man. He was the perfect physical specimen — he was physically strong but psychologically weak. I think what we found is that Terry Crews, the actor, is so funny when he’s activated, and that it’s so valuable to have him in stories, that limiting him to his desk and making him play a sort of mopey weakling was really handicapping him. Over the course of the first half of the season, really terminating in the Christmas episode, we very consciously decided to bring him back into the field, which was also a sort of stated goal of Holt, I believe in the pilot — I don’t remember if that remained in, but clearly the effect of having Holt in the office was bringing Terry out of his shell. So, I think that was one adjustment, and that was just us catching up to the reality that Terry Crews is just incredibly funny and, yeah, you want him in stories and you want him out in the field and to be active.
And then, I think, in the beginning of the season we concentrated a lot on the Holt-Jake dynamic because that is such a central dynamic to the show. After establishing that — and that is still a central dynamic — we felt like we have such a fun ensemble, we wanted to make sure that we paired Jake [Samberg] off with everybody in the ensemble. And I think in the second half of the season, we’ve done a pretty good job of doing A stories that involve Jake and Rosa [Stephanie Beatriz] in the Pontiac bandit; Terry and Ebony Falcon; Jake and Charles [Joe Lo Truglio]; Jake and Amy [Melissa Fumero] — and sort of exploring all those relationships, and fleshing out the office.
Then there are just subtle things that you can’t help but notice. Melissa is really funny when she plays an unsuccessful suck-up to Holt, so we write toward that. So there are things like that that we’ve discovered. You plant a lot of seeds and then you see which plants grow. That’s a dumb metaphor, but I’ll use it.
How soon did you also realize, “OK, we need to have Holt in the presence of dogs as much as possible”? It’s my favorite thing ever.
I love that you love that. It’s so funny because that’s the kind of thing, we were not a hundred — I think in that episode, Holt was in a couple of the stories, but we felt like he was a little bit light, so I thought it would be funny to see him holding a couple of puppies. And so we figured out that story. He’s definitely a funny man with dogs. He actually has a dog here — Andre does.
We see them outside of the office quite a bit. And in last week’s episode it was completely unconnected to a case. Is that nerve-racking for you?
Yeah, Holt’s party was the first episode where nobody was doing a case. So we were nervous about whether or not that would work, and I hope that we pulled it off. It feels like a relief that we could do those stories as well occasionally. There was a solve in it, which I think brought it back, but it’s nice to see the characters can exist and be funny outside of the office.
Let’s play a game of ‘pick a kid’: Is the Boyle character the one the writers have the most fun writing for? He is a kooky guy.
We love writing for all of them.
Often it depends on the situation that the character is in. Boyle is definitely a fun one to write for, yes. But so is Terry and so is Holt, so is Amy and blahblahblah. It really is hard to choose. That being said, I am ridiculous when I pour out coffee and my brother is a ridiculous foodie. There are times where I certainly like writing for him. But I think everybody enjoys writing for all of them. I know that is such a non-answer. And we can't forget Scully (Dirk Blocker) and Hitchcock (Joel McKinnon Miller), they’re also so much fun to write for.
I’ve been on set and there is some fun improvising that happens —
The actors are really fantastic, and there are a lot of incredible lines that are improvised, especially Andy. Andy is great at improvising, both for himself and for others. Having him on set is like having another writer, and he’ll pitch really funny lines for everyone.
Let’s talk about the Santiago and Peralta relationship. In the beginning of the season, you were kind of surprised that I saw something brewing between Amy and Jake — I don’t know if you had yet envisioned couple potential between them. But now we’re seeing you sort of setting a foundation there. What do you see happening? We saw how people responded to “New Girl,” and recently “The Mindy Project” also seemed to consider going there.
Yes, I think that at the start of the season, we didn’t want to play that because we didn’t want to force anything. We didn’t want to say, “Oh, there’s chemistry between these actors!” As we started shooting stuff and we would drop little things into episodes, we really liked how they played off each other. The other thing is, we wanted to show that Jake is a character who can be sort of an underdog, because we’ve portrayed him as a great cop and everybody likes him. And so with this situation with Santiago, he’s a little bit of an underdog. She’s got her life together and he’s a little bit immature and it’s a reason for him to mature. It’s something that we’ve moved toward a bit, partly because we think the characters are funny together and partly because we felt like it helped dimensionalize Jake. I think we’re very mindful of getting too caught up in a will they/won’t they between them. We’re also not playing them — at least not yet — as star-crossed lovers. I think we’re playing them as kind of brother-sister, but a little bit crushy. They like to poke each other, they crack each other up. But we’re not at a place where they’re star-crossed, they have to be together. I think it’s very conceivable that one of them could tell the other that they like him or her, but the other could be dating somebody. Yeah, we’re not … there. I hope I answered that question well?