Thank God for Comedy Central! While other channels like HBO and Showtime have brought us quality contemporary shows like Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Dead Like Me, and others, Comedy Central have brought us hilarious shows that test the boundaries of political correctness. South Park and Chappelle’s Show will go down in history as some of the funniest shows on television. Reno 911 may not be as well known but it is arguably as funny. Many people think it is just a spoof on Cops, but Reno 911 goes much further. It’s a fake reality show, where a fictional camera crew follows around a group of misfit policemen and women. Everything goes wrong all the time and it is beautiful. No issue is sacred. From the blonde bombshell Clemey to the flamboyant homosexual Lt. Dangle, this group both loves and hates each other.
There are both hilarious laugh-out-loud moments as well as stupid moments in the series. In the opening of the very first show, Garcia walks into a so-called crime scene that turns out to be his own surprise party. He accidentally shoots a cop in the chest. And how can you hate a show where cops find pounds of marijuana and are forced to destroy it by sitting around the burning pot campfire and getting loose as breathe in the smoke?
Some may think that Reno 911 is lowbrow humour or just plain silly. In some ways this is true but there is a wonderful freedom to the humour. Still, the jokes don’t always work. Jackie, the one-eyed blonde-wigged loud-mouthed prostitute is annoying and the segment is overdone. And just as the criminals are re-used, so are some of the jokes.
There are some decent special bonus features on the DVD, including a huge chunk of uncensored outtakes and deleted scenes. The commentaries by the cast and creators are also very interesting. We learn that they do not even film in Reno, but in L.A. We also learn that the show is edited together from hours and hours of improvised film. Unfortunately there is no documentary about how they made the show.
The first season of Reno 911 is an extremely funny, and at times controversial spoof. While at first the characters seem one-dimensional, they evolve as the season grows. The show is full of perverts, idiots, and scumbags; and that’s just the officers. They go on a scavenger hunt to win tickets to an execution. They drive drunk. They play with dead bodies. They accidentally blow up a trunk full of fireworks. There is no limit to how low these characters will go and that’s a large part of the appeal. The cliffhanger in the final episode is a nice touch too. Like Police Squad, (the show that inspired The Naked Gun,) Reno 911 does get very absurd. If you can get beyond this, the show bravely tackles subjects like race, rape, homosexuality, drug use, Satanism and more. It may never be as big or go down in history to the same extent as South Park no doubt will, but the shows are on a similar plane by way of taste, humour, energy, and bravery. In short, Reno 911 season 1 will make an excellent addition to any comedy library.
Reno 911 (The Complete First Season) DVD (2004)
Stars: Kerry Kenney, Robert Ben Garant, Tom Lennon
Genre: Comedy Spoof