Imagine "The Wire's" iconic Jimmy McNulty got put into a comedy blender — that's what Andy Samberg hopes his character in the Fox comedy "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" calls to mind for viewers.
"He's like McNulty from 'The Wire,' except instead of drinking problems and philandering, he's being a jackass," Samberg said of his wisenheimer Det. Jake Peralta.
The "SNL" alum appeared Thursday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills alongside his co-stars and show co-creators/executive producers Dan Goor ("Late Night with Conan O'Brien") and Mike Schur ("Parks and Recreation") to discuss the new Tuesday comedy.
Set inside a Brooklyn police precinct, the single-camera workplace comedy lightens the mood of other police series on television — the pilot alone sees Samberg in a speedo, office chair races, and ... Fred Armisen. That's not to say the show is a parody akin to '80s TV series "Police Squad."
"It's a workplace comedy that happens to take place in a police precinct," said Schur said. "The idea is that they're real cops, real crimes..." A show more in keeping with mid-'70s-early-'80s series "Barney Miller" in terms of knowing when to step back from the top-speed case-of-the-week format.
That means showing different aspects of being a police officer, which means highlighting the mundane as much as the high-stakes. The other part is keeping Samberg's character from coming across as a buffoonish detective — something that is established in the pilot's cold open. He can joke, but he can also solve crimes.
"I think it's important for the show to work, because otherwise why do you care?" said Samberg, who also serves as an executive producer. "If he's actually good at it, you can forgive him from being a jackass."
The hope is that Samberg, Schur and Goor can enlist their funny friends for understated cameos — like residents who pop up during door-to-door searches, as was the case with Armisen's appearance.
"Doing door duty is a real and common aspect of their job and it seemed like a really good way to grab some funny people that Andy is friends with and just have them show up," Schur said. "It's a great comedy setup because every time a door opens, you just never know who will be behind it."
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" premieres at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.