The most extraordinary thing about Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s big post-Super Bowl show? Besides a few unobtrusive cameos — compare them, for example, to Prince Presents New Girl: A Royal Post-Game Engagement Brought To You by Ford Focus – Sunday’s special episode was hardly extraordinary at all. Football itself came into play only once, during a brief cold open that pitted the Nine-Niners against their archnemeses in the FDNY; both A and B-plots revolved around fairly standard shenanigans in the office and in the field; even Adam Sandler managed to keep things toned down when he popped up briefly during the show’s second half. (He collects antiquities, and is writing a movie about Russian revolutionaries starring Kevin James as Trotsky — who knew!)
Happily, Brooklyn‘s low-stakes gamble paid off. “Operation: Broken Feather” was as relaxed and confident as the show’s ever been, making it a great introduction for anyone who hasn’t yet been won over by fall’s best new sitcom. And as goofy as this may sound, the episode also did a fair amount of world-building – bringing back onetime guest stars like Patton Oswalt, Fred Armisen (peering around a barely opened door, as per usual), and Dean “Dennis From 30 Rock” Winters helped to establish that Brooklyn takes place in a universe populated by all kinds of amusing minor characters, not just the ones we see each week in the opening credits. Called it an attempted Springfieldification.