Boy, this is a fascinating episode to deal so directly with needing to be liked.

When Brooklyn Nine-Nine is on its game, it’s one of television’s warmest half-hours. (See the donut-hole cold open that gets an offhand callback halfway through the episode just because.) But after sticking a toe into more serious waters early in the season, “The Venue” seems like a deliberate attempt to bring some lighter screwball energy back into the season. Unfortunately, there’s also a sense that the show panicked a little somehow about why everyone likes it, and tried too hard in places it didn’t need to try rather than letting the episode rest on its strengths.

AV Club: Brooklyn Nine-Nine picks “The Venue” and tries a little too hard