Paramount Home Video
Cast: Cedric Yarbrough, Niecy Nash, Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Carlos Alazraqui
Extras: Best of "Reno 911!" Calls, Musical Performance
For four seasons, the inept police force of Reno, Nevada have made a mockery of justice and caused more shenanigans than they've resolved . . . and we wouldn't have it any other way. The Comedy Central series "Reno 911!" offers a wonderfully dead-on sendup of TV's "Cops" and some truly wicked satire that always makes for gleefully shocking viewing. Headed by a group of the most incompetent officers imaginable, the Reno force continuously finds themselves letting the criminals slip through their fingers or falling prey to their own ridiculous traps. But no matter what happens, they do it with a sort of hopefulness that all will come out well in the end, even though it won't. A talented cast of actors makes their characters endearing in spite of their glaring stupidity, and the series shows no signs of slowing. On the heels of a big-screen adaptation, Paramount Home Video decided to release a small compilation of some of the show's "Most Wanted" episodes, providing a nice introduction for viewers who have not yet been turned on to this hilarious series.
The force is led by Lieutenant Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon), who gives positive but useless instructions and sports the shortest shorts this side of Richard Simmons. His squad of deputies includes the strapping S. Jones (Cedric Yarbrough), the pleasantly plump Raineesha Williams (Niecy Nash), country boy Travis Junior (Robert Ben Garant), Latino bigot James Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui), the promiscuous Clementine Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey), put-upon Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenney), and the butch Cheresa Kimball (Mary Birdsong). Like their "Cops" counterparts, these officers are followed constantly by a camera crew and have cameras positioned in their squad cars. Through these lenses we see the outrageous situations they find themselves in daily, including domestic disputes at trailer parks, busts at Hooker Hill, and of course, chasing after naked people. The loud, obnoxious, often drunk criminals provide half of the laughs as they stumble their way through interrogations.
Seven episodes culled from all four seasons are included on this disc. In order, they are: "Scavenger Hunt," "Homeland Security (Parts 1 and 2)," "Reverend Gigg LeCarp," "Officer Smiley," "Reading Ron," and from the yet-to-be-released Season Four, "Rick from Citizen's Patrol." All of these episodes are uproarious, though my favorites were the two-part "Homeland Security," with Oscar Nuñez as Captain Dwayne Hernandez who tries his best to teach the squad the basic security procedures, and "Reverend Gigg LeCarp," in which a popular televangelist decides to broadcast one of his revivals from the police station. Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens also makes a memorable appearance as the strange title character in "Rick from Citizen's Patrol."
I have never been an avid viewer of the show—or any TV show for that matter—but I have never been let down on the occasions when I have turned to "Reno 911!" on Comedy Central. For me, this is a great package to have when I feel like a good laugh, though major fans of the series will probably not get much out of this. All of the episodes are available with their respective seasons, so this is best left for people who are not interested in shelling out the big bucks for the entire season sets. The episodes on this disc, like those on the regular sets, are uncensored, which basically means that we can hear every word of profanity. Nudity and obscene gestures are still blurred (although the actors were most likely not really nude).
All seven episodes are presented in their original fullframe aspect ratio on Paramount's release. The image quality is consistently clear and crisp. The prints are flawless in every way, with no artifacts to be found. Black levels are sometimes murky, but of course this is the intended look, as the series is shot entirely on video in documentary fashion.
A Dolby Digital 2.0 track displays the audio well, with clear dialogue and excellent musical cues. No hiss or distortion was detected, and the sound pretty much measures up with the fine picture quality. No subtitles are included, but there are closed-captions.
The first bonus feature on this disc is a 14-minute collection of 10 of "The Deputies' Favorite Calls," taken from various episodes in the series. These are all extremely funny, especially Jones and Garcia's bet with a group of young boys on a rooftop and a desperate search for a rodent in an elderly woman's house.
The second feature is a live musical performance by Thomas Lennon, Niecy Nash, Cedric Yarbrough, and Kerri Kenney in character for MTV. They perform a satirical song called "Don't Steal Cable." The title pretty much says it all. For what it's worth, this is an entertaining featurette, though no where near as funny as the actual show. Some DVD previews round out the special features.
"Reno 911!" is a riotous show and has definitely earned its loyal following. Collectors of the regular season DVDs will probably want to skip this release, as it contains nothing new or particularly interesting that can't be found elsewhere. For people like myself, however, who are only casual viewers, Paramount's collection of "Most Wanted" episodes is a satisfying taste of the fun at a more reasonable cost. Now we can have our fix of Reno's finest at our fingertips, too.