The Crown & Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Twice this fall I’ve come across tiny squash scenes on television.

The Crown—season five, episode two (“The System”)—has a brief squash scene with Andrew Morton and James Colthurst. Both people in real life knew about squash: Morton went to the University of Sussex; Colthurst to Eton.

The scene opens with a delightful shot of a glass door with the two men playing on the court behind it (only a few courts have a plaster back wall but a glass door). Then it moves on court. Both players are all in white, small-headed racquets. It only lasts for a couple of seconds and ends with one player sprawled on the floor, racquet flung to the tin. Then a quick moment half a minute later, more slashing at the ball.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a squash scene dripping with sarcasm. It aired on 5 December 2015, in season three, episode nine (“The Swedes”), the one where Neil deGrasse Tyson guest stars.

Holt and Kevin have established “a squash doubles dynasty” at the Park Slope Racquet Club, winning a tournament two years in a row. Kevin can’t make it this year, so can Boyle sub in? Boyle, it turns out, was a three-time intramural champion at Sarah Lawrence. The school newspaper dubbed him “squash’s unhinged lunatic” with a record of 27-0.

Boyle is nervous about playing with his boss. “Squash brings out my competitive side, breaking racquets, cursing, excessive mooning,” Boyle tells Terry. Once to psych out an opponent, Boyle locked eyes and ate a squash ball.

At the Park Slope Racquet Club, the matches occur. They are on a glass-back, converted racquetball court, lined for both squash and racquetball. The side-walls have ads (for Sparkle Mist energy drink and a sporting goods store). The door is on the side but there is a large gallery behind the glass back wall. Holt and Boyle are in all whites.

The first point of the first match starts with Boyle serving to the right-wall side, with Holt standing right next to him. Boyle serves the ball out and then complains vigorously to his opponent.

In the next match, Boyle unleashes the beast, wearing all-black: headband, elbow pads, knee pads, socks and a black glove on his playing hand. He bursts on court and says, “you butternuts ready to get squashed?” At one point, Boyle snaps his racquet in two and then slams the two pieces onto the floor.

Later, they FaceTime with Kevin and show him a nice squash trophy. But they can’t go for No.4 next year because they’ve been banned for life: Boyle snapped the second-place trophy over his knee and threw it in a urinal.