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Reno 911: Season 1
Paramount // Unrated // June 22, 2004
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
With the buzz of "South Park" wearing off, Comedy Central has managed to develop a trio of stellar shows: "The Daily Show", "Dave Chappelle's Show" and finally, "Reno 911". While "Reno"'s off-beat sense of humor may take a little while for some to get used to, the show is often a wickedly funny take on "COPS", coming up with material that's subtle and delivered with incredibly brilliant throwaway style by the cast. Characters include Deputy Raineesha Williams (Niecy Nash), Deputy Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenney),Deputy James Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui), Deputy S. Jones (Cedric Yarbrough) ,Deputy Travis Junior (Ben Garant), Deputy C. Johnson (Wendy McLendon-Covey) and Lieutenant Jim Dangle (Tom Lennon).
The best moments of the first season take near-brilliant plots and run with them. In one episode, the staff of the Reno police department finds out that they've been awarded two tickets to a local execution. The officers decide to give them out via their traditional way: a scavenger hunt where the officers must seek out certain criminals to bust for various points.
In another episode, the officers are called out to the desert to bust an ice cream truck full of illegal fireworks. Instead of taking the fireworks back to the station, the officers get out the riot shields and set off the contents of the truck, accidentially sending a bottle rocket in the direction of the stockpile. An officer that has been irritating everyone else is is paired up with another officer only after everyone else says "not it." The officers blow up a microwave with a grenade to convince the department to get them a working one, then realize they just threw in a tear gas grenade.
The second disc includes the last 6 episodes of the season (first disc has 8), including two where members from the office of Homeland Security visit to try and work with the officers of the Reno staff to learn more about protecting themselves and the rest of the city from terrorism - which includes a final exam at the end of the lesson. The second disc also includes the very funny Halloween episode.
Often improvised and very funny, "Reno 911" throws jokes out rapidly - they work more often than not and even when they miss, the effort is still appreciated.
VIDEO: "Reno 911" is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame during these first season episodes, which is the show's original aspect ratio. The show looked terrific on this DVD set, with excellent sharpness and detail. The picture maintained fine definition and clarity, with no softness, even in some of the dimly-lit moments. Light shimmering did show up on a few occasions, but no compression artifacts were visible. Colors remained vibrant and bold throughout, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The show's 2.0 audio is pretty satisfactory, with fine audio quality - dialogue remains clear and clean throughout, while music and sound effects sounded well-recorded.
EXTRAS: Episode 1 offers an audio commentary from actors Niecy Nash and actor/co-creator Thomas Lennon. Episode 2 has the cast of "Reno 911" trying to recreate the vocal performances and sound effects of the episode from memory, which is utterly hilarious. Episode 3 includes audio commentary from director Michael Jann and actress Wendy McLendon-Covey. Episode 9 includes commentary from actress/co-creator Kerri Kenney and actor/co-creator Ben Garant.Episode 13 provides commentary from actors Cedric Yarbrough and Carlos Alazraqui. While all of the commentaries are funny and provide some very good stories about life on the set (which is actually in Los Angeles), the commentary with Garant and Kenny actually provides the most information and tidbits about the show's production, including improv work/editing on the show and other issues.
Finally, the DVD includes 32 minutes of alternate scenes/takes and outtakes, as well as promos for other Comedy Central shows.
Final Thoughts: "Reno 911" hits brilliance in several of these 14 episodes and even the lesser ones still contain their share of good laughs. Paramount's DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality and a few solid supplements. Highly recommended.