TV on DVD: “Reno 911! The Complete Sixth Season: Uncensored”

Written by Television, TV on DVD

911Reno 911! The Complete Sixth Season: Uncensored (2009, Paramount)
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The release of Reno 911! The Complete Sixth Season: Uncensored may seem like it’s for diehards only, but I think people new to the show will enjoy it just as much as the loyal followers. Initially I found it hard to believe that after five seasons and a motion picture that Reno 911, Comedy Central’s parody of the Fox show COPS and countless imitators, would have much left in the gas tank. As season six of Reno 911 opens, Thomas Lennon’s character Lt. Jim Dangle even makes light of this. As he leads the hand-held camera crew through the offices of the Reno Sheriff’s Department, he says, “Oh, I thought we were canceled.” Dangle then awkwardly tries to explain the changes that have occurred. Most notably to Reno 911 fans are the cast changes that occurred between season five and six. Carlos Alazraqui (Dep. Garcia) and Wendy McLendon-Covey (Dep. Clemmie Johnson) are both gone, the characters dead after an explosion at the end of the fifth season. They are replaced by the equally talented Ian Roberts (Upright Citizens Brigade) as Sgt. Declan and Joe Lo Truglio (The State) as Dep. Rizzo.

As you may know, most of Reno 911 is improvised from broad outlines written by Lennon, Kerri Kenney-Silver (Deputy Trudy Wiegel) and Robert Ben Garant (Deputy Travis Junior), co-creators and ringleaders. As with anything that is primarily improvised (whether it’s Christopher Guest’s films, the great TBS show, 10 Items or Less, or Reno 911) the humor can be hit or miss. I have always admired the commitment of Lennon and company to remain in character even when things appear to be getting outrageously out of hand. But if you’re willing to sit through the misses, the hits can be outrageous. In addition, the series has some fine editors who splice together the best moments. After so much time as a comedy troupe, the cast of Reno 911 is as tight as any on TV. Their ability to riff off of each other and go for broke to get laughs is the primary reason to watch the show.

I’m no expert on the history of Reno 911! or everything that has happened in seasons past, but the few times I have caught it on Comedy Central I thought it was ruthlessly funny. I believe that viewing several episodes in succession, as in this DVD collection, it the best way to begin watching Reno 911! if you’re an uninitiated viewer. After two or three half hours you’ll be familiar with the characters, the rhythm of the show, and you’ll come to understand the twisted relationships between the staff of the Reno Sheriff Department. I especially love the work of Niecy Nash, whose no-holds-barred attitude toward her character Deputy Williams cracks me up every time she comes on screen. Other standouts include Cedric Yarbrough (Dep. Sven Jones) and Kenney-Silver. The show also brings in guest stars to join in the ridiculousness. While Jonah Hill is okay, Patton Oswalt is brilliant as a killer being expedited out of the country (the payoff to this storyline is classic) and George Lopez does a great job of shedding his Nickelodeon family image by showing up as the drugging/whoring Mayor Hernandez.

While the “uncensored” aspect to watching Reno 911! doesn’t really add much to what you see, other special features on the DVD include alternate and deleted scenes, extended outtakes and commentary by all of the cast members on select scenes. After you’ve worked you’re way through the entire box you really should listen to the commentaries. They’re almost as funny as the actual show.