"Brooklyn Nine-Nine." Before you vacuum up the chip crumbs from the sofa and wipe down the seven-layer dip smears from the coffee table, catch the freshman comedy that swept the Golden Globes in a special post-Super Bowl slot Sunday night. Its low ratings have kept it on the bubble, but by giving it a slot after the big game, Fox is clearly positioning it for growth.
And for good reason. "Saturday Night Live" alum Andy Samberg stars as Det. Jake Peralta, a bumbling smart-mouth who is also a very good police officer, but "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" comes from Daniel Goor and Michael Shur, who gave us "Parks and Recreation," one of the best ensemble comedies going.
That's what makes this show work as well.
Playing foil to Samberg's irritating-but-lovable man-child are eager overachiever Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), goofy Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), street-savvy Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), cut but cuddly Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) and the ever unreadable Capt. Ray Holt (Andre Braugher). Separately, they could each anchor an Unlikely Cop comedy; together, they could make "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" the next "Barney Miller." Fox, Sunday, 10:30 p.m., before settling into a new time slot, Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m.
"The Middle" Season for season, episode for episode, "The Middle" is one of the most substantial, emotionally satisfying and inevitably hilarious comedies on TV.
Following the financially challenged, sporadically ambitious and consistently eccentric Hecks as they navigate work, life and child-rearing, "The Middle" doesn't have the zeitgeist flash of super-geek characters or the high concept of multiple wives / story lines, but it does explore and celebrate the sort of family a person might actually have, or at least know well.
With Axl (Charlie McDermott) at college, and Sue (Eden Sher) firmly in high school, life for Frankie (Patricia Heaton) and Mike (Neil Flynn) should be getting easier, but of course it isn't. The parents are tired, the kids perpetually hungry or anxious or in need of a ride, and problems that should have simple solutions spiral into mild mayhem. Because that's how life is, especially in "The Middle." ABC, Wednesday, 8 p.m.
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." It took a while for this Marvel-ous experiment to find its feet, but with big story arcs -- Coulson's (Clark Gregg) death, Skye's (Chloe Bennet) birth and a new nemesis known as the Clairvoyant -- this show just keeps getting better and better. And don't get me started about the fabulous possibilities of the newly revealed S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy. Or the affair between agents Ward (Brett Dalton) and May (Ming-Na Wen). Seriously, is Agent May, with her lethal moves and killer stare, not the coolest character on TV?
Sure, the Avengers are there, off-screen, but it's getting more and more difficult to miss them at all. ABC, Tuesday, 8 p.m.
"Sherlock" Well, that went quickly. The third and final episode of Season 3 of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss' modern-day re-imagining of the world's most famous detective is upon us. And what an episode it is. More than the previous two seasons, this triptych has focused on the emotional awakening of Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and what it means to partner John Watson (Martin Freeman) and brother Mycroft (Gatiss).
What it has meant to viewers is fewer straight-up investigations and more fanciful flashbacks and dream sequences. Not, perhaps, to everyone's taste -- this episode's big reveal is guaranteed to rub more than a few Baker Street Irregulars the wrong way -- but the writing, the performances and the sheer derring-do of the story lines leaves us hoping it won't be another two years before "Sherlock" returns. KOCE, Sunday, 9:58 p.m.
Oh yeah, and the Super Bowl's on at some point on Sunday.