‘Reporting For Duty’ Review: A Brazilian Comedy Show About Cops That Preaches Nonviolence


Movies and shows featuring various kinds of law enforcement agencies and personnel have existed ever since their real-life counterparts have been an integral aspect of our society. Back in 1916, Charlie Chaplin gave us the endlessly entertaining Police; Michael Bay made Bad Boys; Edgar Wright made Hot Fuzz; Martin Scorsese made The Departed; and then there is India, which has produced Singham, Article 15, Dabangg, Mardaani, etc. On the small screen, we’ve seen shows like Law & Order, CSI, Starsky & Hutch, Paatal Lok, Delhi Crime, Kohrra, and Dahaad. But as we’ve learned the kind of violence that the police are capable of and how they always work for the political party in power instead of the people who pay their salaries with their taxes, the celebratory mood around this particular profession has died down. That sentiment has been replaced with shades of introspection and self-correction. Reporting for Duty can seem like a light-hearted show about the police, but it’s doing something interesting while being comedic.

Created by Carol Garcia, César Amorim, Fabíola Alves, and Victor Rodrigues, Reporting for Duty follows Suzano, who has recently been transferred from his hometown of Campo Manso to the 8th Precinct in Tijuca, Brazil. To be clear, he hasn’t been transferred as a regular cop but as the acting Chief of Police. Now, given the brilliant crime rate in Tijuca, the 8th Precinct has a history of short-term chiefs of police because they’re killed as soon as they take up the job. Since Suzano is from a town that isn’t all that violent and his claim-to-fame is due to the accidental capturing of the “notorious” criminal, Serrote, it becomes evident that he isn’t going to last very long either. The core team at the station is made up of Mantovani, Estevão, Guerra, Rabecão, Wi-Fi, Pardal, and Zuleide, and almost all of them start placing bets on Suzano’s longevity, give him nicknames, and even mock him pretty openly. Being a non-confrontational and nonviolent individual, Suzano tries to survive by taking on the lowest-stakes tasks and ends up breaking the spine of the mafia that’s terrorizing Tijuca.

The operative word in Reporting for Duty is nonviolence. There are 10 writers, and it seems like they understand that society cannot operate without police, but the police don’t need to have violence on their minds 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Of course, it’s a comedy. That’s why the nature of the criminals is juvenile and not as heinous as the ones we see in real life. But even if they are, the question still remains: should the police think violently? Can they come up with solutions that don’t involve guns, batons, and fisticuffs? Can they treat law enforcement as a job and not an excuse to break moral and ethical boundaries? That’s a lot of food for thought. And while you chew on it, the writers provide plenty of laughs via hilarious situations and spectacularly written jokes. More than the jokes, I loved the situations that Suzano finds himself in. The one where he has to organize a carnival to avoid getting killed and the one where he has to stay seated on the commode to avoid a literal bomb explosion. I mean, come on! How can you not laugh at that? In addition to that, I love all of the aforementioned characters. They are all so different and well-defined. They have their kinks and triggers. They are all funny, but their sense of humor isn’t the same. It’s a roundabout way of saying that the writers have done a splendid job.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Reporting for Duty heavily draws its look and tone from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, especially since it’s one of the most popular series about cops. It has the usual flat lighting, crash zooms, and a limited choice of locations. But as you keep going from one episode to another, you realize that it’s actually nothing like Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It’s very inventive with its cinematography and editing. In one of the episodes where the characters are in different locations having entirely different conversations, the intercutting makes it seem like they are all finishing each other’s sentences. The show utilizes the actors’ faces to the fullest with extreme close-up shots, and some of those moments end up being funnier than any written joke or physical gag. I say that because sometimes these jokes and bits of physical comedy overstay their welcome. They have a good set-up and a decent pay-off, but then they stick around for a few seconds longer than they should, thereby testing your patience. Some of the subplots suffer from the same issue. This might’ve been caused by the need to hit the 25–27 minute mark. Other than that minor criticism, it’s a really well-made show.

The actors in Reporting for Duty are truly spectacular. I believe that it’s difficult to have an entire cast full of people whose comic timing is on point. None of them can miss a beat. When they are in the spotlight, they have to own it. When they are in the background, they have to be amazing. And if a show succeeds in doing all that, the casting director should get a long pat on the back. Even though it’s difficult to point out one actor who does most of the heavy lifting because the core cast is that good, I’ve got to say the show rests on Leandro Hassum’s shoulders. It’s a monumental task to play such a loser without making him annoying or weak. He underscores the show’s themes so beautifully, and his expressions are the funniest. Luciana Paes brilliantly balances her character’s confidence and vulnerability. Her dry humor is great. Jefferson Schroeder is so subtle and yet so good. The same can be said about Cauê Campos. Digão Ribeiro uses his dominating physical presence pretty smartly to elicit laughter. Babu Carreira is the best, right after Hassum. Her constant need for polygamous relationships doesn’t get old. Taumaturgo Ferreira oozes the weirdest kind of charm and it works. Every time Josie Antello struck a pose with her broom or rolled her eyes at the preposterous nature of the workplace, it tickled my funny bone. As for the rest of the cast, especially Pedro Wagner and Tenca Silva, all of them deserve a round of applause for their extraordinary work.

I don’t exactly understand Netflix. They’ll promote movies and shows that they haven’t produced or distributed and forget about the original properties that they’ve greenlit, unless they are big-budget tentpole products. Reporting for Duty is a Netflix original series, but I don’t see any hype around it. So, please take my word for it and give this show a chance. It has funny characters, a funny premise, funny jokes, and a cast that is running on all cylinders. I love the fact that in a time when the internet and people in real life are resorting to violence, a show about cops is trying to do the exact opposite and urging people to lead with empathy. Of course, it’s not a perfect show, and we have a long way to go before law enforcement agencies stop thinking that it’s their birthright to beat up people. But after watching Reporting for Duty, even if one person thinks that the onus is on the police to do better, then it’s a major win. Anyway, what you’ve read is just my opinion. Please watch the comedy series on Netflix, form your own opinion, and feel free to share your thoughts with us.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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Reporting for Duty is a Netflix original series, but I don't see any hype around it. So, please take my word for it and give this show a chance. 'Reporting For Duty' Review: A Brazilian Comedy Show About Cops That Preaches Nonviolence