Comedy Central // 2008 // 353 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 16th, 2008
Reno's not-close-to-finest roll out for another season of debauchery, tomfoolery, inadequacy, mediocrity, tragedy and animal cruelty. But are our fearless law enforcement officials losing their comic luster?
The cliffhanger from last season found Deputy Weigel (Kerri Kenney-Silver) giving birth and Deputy Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui) confessing his true feelings for Lieutenant Dangle's (Thomas Lennon) almost-life-partner. Season Five picks up right after with the mystery behind Weigel's baby's father's identity settled as well as other mysteries, like who's been sticking his wiener in the peanut butter jar.
Sixteen episodes of this craziness, including but not limited to Deputy Junior (Robert Ben Garant) and his trip to the southern border to help build a fence with some drunken rednecks, Deputy Williams (Niecy Nash) and her enormous posterior getting the media attention they deserve, Deputies Kimball (Mary Birdsong) and Johnson (Wendy Mclendon-Covey) savoring the new attention they're receiving from the form-fitting female Kevlar vests, Dangle suffering through the after-effects of a "speed tan" and Deputy Jones (Cedric Yarbrough) and Garcia going undercover as fast food workers and finding a job they're miraculously worse at than policing.
I fully confess my fondness for this series, which manifested itself with verve in my reviews of prior seasons. Initially drawn to the series because of its creators' roots to MTV's The State (Paramount, still waiting by the way), I instantly grew to appreciate the absurd, sketch-based humor the show trafficked in. Episodes consist of a series of short segments, all cop-based of course, following the sad exploits of this hapless band of witless badge-carriers. Each episode features an overarching plotline that ties the random moments together. Examples of these show storylines for Season Five include:
1. The gang's run-in with a big shot bounty hunter who has his cable TV show (played by Diedrich Bader).
2. Dangle's desperate plea to Williams to play his black girlfriend so he can impress his black step-siblings.
3. Junior's campaign to land the coveted Director of Carcass Removal position.
4. The department's misadventures in training the Iraqi police force, which seems more interested in doing drugs and banging strippers.
5. Jones and Kimball and the racist retired general they have to chauffer around in a parade.
6. The annual Coconut Nut Cluster campaign and the nasty effects it has on Jones and Kimball.
And lots more. As is usually the case with other seasons, these plotlines are clever, ridiculous and sewn up with decent comic twists. There are also season-long bits like Dangle's futile attempts to "jump the shark" for autism, which always end in bloodshed, Junior's ongoing entanglement with a school bus, the sex-slave-turned-receptionist, prostitution stings that end badly and a high school scared-straight program that takes place in the morgue and features such advice like driving drunk is actually safer than driving sober.
Guest stars are everywhere too, from Bader to Ryan Stiles as an acting coach trying in vain to teach the deputies how to work undercover without being made, Seth Green as the oppressive fast food joint boss (his monologue about what he did to the men's room is particularly masterful), Michael Ian Black in a brilliantly-executed bit about a dying man revealing his sexual exploits to his mother before he passes on, Patton Oswalt as the victim of a horrifying car crash and George Lopez as the scandal-ridden mayor.
That all sounds pretty good, I know, but I still found this season one of the weakest. While the episode-long arcs aren't bad, the sketches that tie them together lack punch. As in all sketch shows, there's a hit-and-miss dynamic working here; the misses, alas, strike me as too numerous. I think part of that has to do with the COPS spoof framework the writers are bound to, a true double-edged sword -- there is much to satire but only so much. These guys will always be bound to the confines of the Sheriff's Department and judging by the number of stale jokes I'm beginning to think the well is running dry.
Still, even when the gags bomb, Reno 911! is funnier than most half-hours out there. If you're a fan of the show, I reckon you might not be laughing as much as you have before, but there's still value here. Like the exploding cat.
Episodes get the standard, adequate full frame, 2.0 stereo treatment. Extras include some funny commentary on select episodes by the cast, over 40 minutes of deleted scenes, a "Cop Psychology" feature focusing on the deputies and their interaction with the department psychologist and the usual assorted Comedy Central debris (trailers, quickies, etc.)
Again, as in previous releases, this the "uncensored" version and judging by the language I have to wonder if the "censored" shows run like five minutes. The profanity here is harsh, and brings up an interesting argument over what's funnier -- bleeps or unbleeped vulgarity. I tend to think the bleeps are funnier, but maybe you like your dialogue filthy. Well, filthy it is, easily R-rated level and with some bare breasts tossed in for good measure.
One of the weaker seasons, but Reno 911! still entertains. I have to wonder if Dangle's "Jump the Shark" routine is prophetic...
Not guilty. But you guys came this close to getting their badges revoked.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 353 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Cop Psychology"
* Extended Scenes
* Comedy Central Quickies
* Official Site