Judge David Johnson has never appeared topless on a reality-based cop show. But he has been asked.
Our reviews of Reno 911! The Complete First Season (published July 19th, 2004), Reno 911! The Complete Third Season (published July 26th, 2006), Reno 911! The Complete Fourth Season (published June 20th, 2007), and Reno 911! The Complete Fifth Season (published July 16th, 2008) are also available.
They have what it takes to be cops: badges.
After resuscitating a long-shelved network series called Reno 911!, Comedy Central has turned it into another original hit show. An improv-heavy spoof on Fox's forever-running reality show Cops, Reno 911! is a gag-a-minute series of bits in rapid-fire succession. Season One delivered the goods; is the sophomore effort locked and loaded, or are the players out of ammo this go-round?
Facts of the Case
Reno 911! is filmed with a handheld camera, much in the same style as the show it spoofs. The show follows the exploits of seven members of the Reno sheriff's department:
Lieutenant Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon): The tight-shorts-wearing leader of the troops, prone to losing his bike and flaunting his alternative lifestyle.
Deputy Jones (Cedric Yarbrough): The towering "playa," constantly fending off advances from his coworkers (Dangle included).
Deputy James Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui): The profoundly racist veteran, eager to do violence and piss off his partner, Jones.
Deputy Raineesha Williams (Niecy Nash): The sassiest of the bunch.
Deputy Clementine Johnson (Wendy McLendon-Covey): The whore of the bunch.
Deputy Travis Junior (Robert Ben Garant): The trigger-happy redneck and point man for the K9 unit.
Deputy Trudy Weigel (Kerrey Kenney-Silver): The bipolar misfit with a penchant for dating serial killers.
While episodes are comprised mainly of individual comedy bits, there are show-long arcs, usually ending in a twist that makes the sheriff's department look even more inept than they are. But the thrust of this series is to unleash a fusillade of jokes, some of which are rattled off so fast that multiple viewings are required to pick them out. Think This Is Spinal Tap! with guns and badges.
Sixteen episodes. Three discs. Let's ride.
• Episode One
A very funny episode, with ah hilarious twist at the end. Trudy's formal dining outfit is must-see television. Rating: 3 out of 4 spent shell casings.
• Episode Two
• Episode Three
• Episode Four
• Episode Five
• Episode Six
• Episode Seven
• Episode Eight
• Episode Nine
• Episode Ten
• Episode Eleven
• Episode Twelve
• Episode Thirteen
• Episode Fourteen
• Episodes Fifteen and Sixteen
I found these last two shows a bit off. They spring us from the warped
reality where these seven clowns serve as cops and fling them into the real
world, where, of course, their actions won't stand up to scrutiny. I know what
the writers were trying to do here, juxtapose the inanity of the ensemble with
the reality, but I just didn't think it worked. Still, it was funny, and the
preview for the third season was great.
All in all, I'd say this season, while funny, wasn't as sharp as its predecessor. I do think it remains one of the more original and consistently amusing half-hours on television. It is a different style of humor, so if you're not one for improv-based work, look elsewhere.
I dig the set Comedy Central has put together. From the packaging to the creative menus systems, the presentation is excellent. Episodes appear in their original fullscreen aspect ratio and look good, clean and free of flaws. Ditto for the Dolby Digital stereo mix.
While not terribly diverse, the bonus features are substantial. A live comedy presentation at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival is pretty funny (and lengthy), and the 90-plus minutes of extended and deleted scenes are often hilarious. Because of the type of series Reno 911! is, you know there's lots of good stuff that was filmed but excised, and here's the proof. Lastly, each cast member participates in an audio commentary, with Lennon and Garant's offering by far the funniest.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Keep in mind that the DVD release is uncensored. All curse words are unbleeped, though the blurring—thankfully—remains intact.
Another very funny round of episodes from the modern-day Keystone Kops. Or perhaps Key-stoned Kops is more accurate. While this second season represents a slight slip from the superb first, for those of you who dig this by-the-seat-of-your-pants comedy, it's an open-and-shut case: retrieve it.
Not guilty. Go forth and uphold the law!
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