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Reno 911!: The Complete Series
Six seasons of short shorts and funny cops
Loves: Reno 911!, The State
Likes: Cops, improv
Hates: Not getting new extras
The Story So Far...
Several alumni of the cult comedy troupe "The State" gathered together again for Reno: 911!, which parodies the well-known format of Cops, by following a crew of inept sheriffs. Made up mostly of inspired improv performances, the show features the sexually-ambiguous Lt. Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon) who leads a less-than-successful law-enforcement effort. Each episode shows several "busts," in addition to the main story, so there are plenty of chances for laughs in comedy that's both absurd and rapid-fire, playing with the conventions of the "ride along" genre.
Paramount released Reno 911!, which aired on Comedy Central between 2003 and 2009, in an annual series of six DVD sets between 2004 and 2009, along with a best-of DVD, which hit shelves in February of 2007. DVDTalk has reviews for all six releases to date.
Season OneThe Show
The series parodies the long-running Cops, following the Reno sheriffs as they work the beat, responding to calls and arresting oddballs, and then following their personal lives, as they interact in and out of the office. Perhaps Cops isn't the most complex series, but the show nails the show's hallmarks, be it the in-car conversations, the trashy, highly-emotional suspects or the many chases. Though the arrestees, who are played (with blurred faces) by the main cast, are often the funniest part of the show, the show's strength is the interplay between the sheriffs, who are all quite terrible at their jobs and are relatively awful people. It is hilarious however to watch them bounce their personalities off each other. Whether it's shooting a dog by accident or beating down a man in a milkshake costume, if there's a wrong way to do something, Lt. Jim Dangle's crew will find it.
The great thing about the group is how you can split them into any number of pairings and create situation, whether you put hot-pants-clad team leader Dangle (Thomas Lennon) with awkward oddball Weigel (Kerri Kenney-Silver), or sexpot former showgirl Clementine (Wendi McLendon-Covey) with the rather racist Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui). Everyone in the main cast, including Niecy Nash, as Raineesha; Cedric Yarbrough, playing Jones and Robert Ben Garant, in the role of Junior, are incredibly funny, and spark great chemistry with the others, and the improvisational comedy that comes of that connection is fantastic. Sometimes, even if the material doesn't seem like it's at its strongest level, the performances just make it work. Yarbrough and McLendon-Covey are underrated performers, and their skill as physical comedians serves this show well. Sometimes, it's hard to say whether the laughs come from the characters or the performances. Either way, it's great.
Each episode is built around a main plot, like one focused on the team's reaction to Weigel apparently attempting suicide (she didn't), an arrest scavenger hunt for the prize of two passes to witness an execution or a visit from Homeland Security, who put the sheriffs through their paces. Beyond that, the episodes are made up of a mix of Cops-ish situations, including undercover operations and investigations, as well as trips to local schools (which naturally don't go well). Overall, there's not much that's too offensive to be a topic (this team is seriously racist at times) and the tone is deeply dark, to the point that one scene sees the crew playing around with a body in an autopsy room.
Right off the bat, the show was excellent at integrating guest stars into the action, which, when added to the brilliant main cast, made the show amazingly funny. Aside from Nick Swardson's ridiculous roller-skating hustler Terry, Kyle Dunnigan's upsetting oddball Craig (who gets involved with Weigel in a way that should make us all feel icky) and Jack Plotnik's creepy character Steve (among several he plays over the six seasons), the guest cast includes Jerry Minor, Rachael Harris, Nat Faxon, Oscar Nunez and Cheryl Hines. Unsurprisingly, the show called on other members of The State, as Ken Marino appears as a man looking for his dog, who becomes chummy with Dangle, and David Wain guests as a masseuse, while Michael Ian Black plays a convicted sex offender who, accompanied by Clemmy, informs his neighbors in a hilarious manner.
One bit/character that has added value now in retrospect is Andrew the john, played by Jim Rash. The character, whose angry outbursts when visiting the local brothel draw the sheriffs' attention, was always funny, but when viewed alongside his breakout role as the dean on Community, it becomes even funnier, because they are such opposites, despite sharing so much energy.
Note: All extras in this set were included in the individual season releases
The first season offers four commentaries, each of which features a pair of participants. The duos work great together, resulting in some fun chats, and they even manage to share some info on the production at times, with Kenney and Garant, both of whom have roles in front of and behind the camera, delivering good behind-the-scenes info, including talk about the actors breaking during the recording. They also show how much time has passed since the show hit DVD (and how quickly time passes), as there are references to both Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, two who left us too soon. Otherwise, there's a lot of talk about boobs, butts, wieners and Koreans. You know...a good time.
- Episode 1: Nash and Lennon
- Episode 3: Director Michael Patrick Jann and McLendon-Covey
- Episode 9: Garant and Kenney
- Episode 13: Yarbrough and Alazraqui
10 alternate scenes are available to watch, running a total of 32:50. These are a mix of uncut, alternate and unaired scenes, along with some outtakes. Among the must-see moments are McLendon-Covey and Alazraqui unable to stop laughing and Jim Rash as an angry john at a brothel.
Also included is a pair of "Comedy Central Quickies," previews of other shows. Included are the Samuel L. Jackson beer sketch from Chappelle's Show and "South Park is Gay" from, obviously, South Park.
Season TwoThe Show
There's something about Comedy Central series that works against them, and it's their ability to come out of the blocks on fire, setting the bar very high after the first season. Too often, they can't come back and top it and the show suffers. Not so for Reno 911! The second season came back stronger, with more biting comedy and more of the running jokes that made the first season so funny.
There's no on-going plot to speak of, and character development is essentially nil, so all this show has going for it is the strength of the "sketches." This season, some truly inspired plots were used, including one where the monumentally naive Weigel may be dating a serial killer. It was so enjoyable that the usual police calls were almost in the way. Other storylines that stood out include a televangelist who wants to shoot his show from a jail cell, a dying cancer kid played by Michael Ian Black, a rivalry between the cops and firefighters and the three-part season finale in which the department is investigated by a power-hungry district attorney.
There's nothing sacred in Reno, which is one of the best aspects of the show. Everyone gets made fun of equally and the show pulls no punches, as best seen in the episode about Raineesha converting to Islam. The jokes made about Muslims would hardly be considered PC, but they are hilarious, especially one run comparing religion to cell-phone plans. As mentioned before, racism is rampant in this department, but it's always played for laughs, especially when the Ku Klux Klan is involved. It's rare when a show touches on Islam in such a bold way, but this show does it well.
While the storylines are great, the sketches are where some of the biggest laughs lie. Some of the better perps from Season One return, including crazy T.T., the runaway maniac, and Andy, the psycho who believes he's above the law. There's plenty of new criminals to bust and some terrific additions like "Laying Down the Law," the PSAs starring Raineesha, which have all the polish of a local Public-Access show. Not having the old "calling in tags" bits is disappointing, but there's enough funny in the new material to make up for it.
The only extras on the first disc are the same Comedy Central Quickies seen on the network's recent DVDs, from Drawn Together, Chappelle's Show and South Park, and some DVD previews. Disc Two has more content, with audio commentaries on episodes 10 (Yarbrough & Nash), 11 (McLendon-Covey & Alazraqui) and 14 (Lennon & Garant), while Disc Three features another commentary on the season finale, with Kenney-Silver and Jann. The pairings were well chosen, as Yarbrough and Nash are the focus for most of their episode, and the McClendon-Covey and Alazraqui episode features their characters hooking up. As talented improv comedians, they are good on their feet, as they respond to what's happening on-screen and share behind-the-scenes info.
This DVD also has almost 90 minutes of alternate takes and deleted scenes, tripling the amount from the first season DVDs. These can be viewed using a play-all option, or individually. The scenes come from across the season, and are usually rather funny, though the extended takes can be a bit slow if you saw the original take, as only a small amount of the material is different.
In addition to the show material on this disc is the cast's 42-minute live performance at HBO's 2004 Comedy Arts Festival, which is split into two parts. The performance takes the form of a Reno Sheriff's Department "Drug Arrest Prevention Seminar." This stage show is pretty damn funny, and all over the place as far as the ideas go, putting it right in line with the series' twisted sense of humor. A unique spin on the standard Q&A session puts the perfect capper on the show.
On the Hunt:
There are easter eggs on each disc, two of which are hidden versions of one of the better extras from last season's collection. Check out DVDTalk's Easter Egg section for details.
Season ThreeThe Show
The second season of "Reno 911!" ended with a cliffhanger, as the county D.A. threw the Reno boys and girls in prison for doing a awful job as sheriffs. They start the third season in the pokey, and surprisingly keep the storyline going for the first two episodes, as their situation works its way out. As one would expect, they eventually get to return to the force, at which point they can get back to ineffectually policing Reno.
A new addition to the squad this season brought the genders into balance, as Cherisha Kimball (Mary Birdsong) joined the force. Though she starts out as a no-nonsense cop, the pervasive mediocrity of the Reno Sheriffs department brings her down the level of the rest of the crew. There's not much unique about her character outside of her hardcore approach, but her presence allows for quite a few jokes about her sexuality.
There were a few more changes, but that's no surprise for fans of the show, as the show avoids getting stagnant by mixing it up. The busts keep their usual variety, with some old friends like Terry the gay rollerskating whore and Chief Carl making appearances, but the running jokes, like the old license-plate reading gags, have been completely revamped. This time, a series of school seminars, amateurish Police Tek 2000 commercials, and ill-cued press conferences, help fill the gaps between the "action" scenes with hearty laughs.
This season, several of the cops have spotlight episodes, including Jonesy's flirtation with a career as a singer, Raineesha and Garcia's run-in with Liberace's piano and Dangle meeting a young man who might be his son. It's obvious that the plots are a bit out there, which is the only way it could be. Not that it matters really, since stories like "C.S.I." shooting in Reno or a trio of Reno's finest being quarantined for SARS are just skeletons for the cast to hang their jokes onto.
As is usually the case with the show, the guest stars are great, including Matt Besser ("Upright Citizens Brigade") as a too-honest drug dealer and Zach Galifianakis playing Frisbee, a crazy militia man living in a school bus with his small family of gun-runners. The best of the bunch though is Brian Unger ("The Daily Show") who plays Reading Ron, a public television host. Shooting an episode with the Reno cops, he's pushed to the edge by their very inappropriate comments and actions. Several laugh-out-loud moments are found in this episode, one of the most complete and hilarious in the third season.
I'm not sure why, but no character draws more laughs than Weigel, whose naive yet mental personality gives her an innocence that makes almost everything she says that much funnier. Her bizarre relationship with effeminate serial killer Craig gives her an odd new angle, but she's at her best when she mindless throws out whatever she's thinking, and ends up either insulting everyone or freaking people out. Thanks to that, she's able to get away with some memorable lines. Her performance when recreating a crime with Dangle borders on brilliance.
Disc One: There's a 22-minute reel of extended outtakes, all from the crime recreation scene in Episode Seven. Lennon and Kenney riff off each other as they try to figure out how a man was killed, creating increasingly ridiculous scenarios. It shows just how hard it must be to edit together an episode of the series.
Three episode-length audio commentaries are included here, on episodes five, (Jann and Kenney, with special guests), six (Kenney and Birdsong), and seven (Alazraqui and Yarbrough). The tracks are very comfortable, and the participants just cut loose, having an enjoyable conversation about the series. The Kenney/Birdsong track is a bit quieter than the others, but they bring the twisted comedy as well.
Disc Two: The second disc has another pair of episode-length audio commentaries on this disc, with Garant and Lennon on episode 10, and Nash and director Brad Abrams on the finale. Like the other tracks, these commentaries are the kind you create when good friends get behind the mic, as they chat about making the show, or whatever else comes to mind.
There's a 30-minute reel of extended outtakes on this disc also, with three lengthy scenes. One features homeless nuisance Junior the Third, and the other two are taken from "CSI: Reno." They are similar in quality to the first set, though the CSI scenes, with the cops standing outside of trailers, can drag a bit. They are most effective in showing how good the cast is at improvising. Also included is a set of fourth-season commercials, which are done as toy ads for "Reno 911!" action figures. Leave it to the Reno crew to make even their promos hilarious. The disc wraps with three Comedy Central Quickies promos.
On the Hunt:
There is at least one easter egg on each disc, and impressive ones at that, continuing the tradition from the previous "Reno 911!" DVDs.
Season FourThe Show
After adding a new deputy in Season Three, the show was kept mostly at status quo, with the exception of a mysterious pregnancy that fell upon Weigel. Reflecting Kenney-Silver's real-life pregnancy, this gave the show lots of opportunities to make hilarious use of her physical state, along with plenty of jokes about the baby's possible father and/or species. The jokes could have run thin over the course of a season, but with Weigel's unique brand of madness, it never gets old seeing her naked and eight-months pregnant.
It's impossible to change what Reno 911! is, at its core, so various police busts still make up the bulk of the show, with old "pals" like Terry the roller-skating male prostitute and Big Mike returning to get into more trouble, along with the deputies' nonsensical in-car chats. The show's great side bits, like the sheriff department's school seminars, badly-acted commercials and unaware press conferences, return as well, though unfortunately not joined by anything new and good, as the repeated interrogation gags falling short.
Some of the storylines in this season are as good as anything the series has delivered to date, with the episode in which the police department is sponsored by a Hooters-like restaurant, being one of the best in the show's run. From the consequences of being sponsored to the very nature of the sponsorship, the episode is ridiculous and hilarious, though the ending is a bit over the top.
It's matched in quality by Paul Reubens' guest-starring role as Rick, who, as the Citizen's Patrol, outwits the sheriff's department again and again. Reubens slides perfectly into the show's world, creating a excellent foil for the cops and a memorable character in a fun story. The guest stars that visit Reno this season are a big boost to the series, including Reubens, Galifianakis (outsider Frisbee), Besser (playing a too-honest dealer,) Brian Posehn (as Stewie the Coroner,) Paul Rudd (as an inappropriate lamaze instructor) and Patton Oswalt (in his recurring role as a role-playing geek.)
But despite the fun gags in those episodes, none of them offer visuals quite as great as the season finale, which piles jokes on top of jokes in telling the tale of Lt. Dangle's wedding. There isn't a frame of the episode that isn't funny, with Weigel taking center stage. Oddly, there's a lot of finality to the show, as storylines wrap up, but considering there's a cliffhanger, there's hope for more.
The only overwhelming negative in this season is an odd obsession with explosions, which seems to crop up about once a show. It was funny when the gang blew up the ice-cream truck in the show's second episode, but when these explosions keep coming without reason or cleverness, they lose their impact and their humor. Sure, once in a while they'll draw a smile, but for the most part, it's just a time-killer.
Once again, there are five audio commentaries included, though instead of including the directors this time, it's all cast (with all of the main cast present and accounted for.) The chats are fun and friendly, as the participants reminisce about the episodes or just joke around. As you might expect from such talented improvisational comics, the tracks are fast-paced and witty.
The breakdown of participants is:
- Episode 4: Lennon, Garant
- Episode 8: Lennon, Garant
- Episode 9: McLendon-Covey, Birdsong
- Episode 11: Alazraqui, Yarbrough
- Episode 14: Kenney-Silver, Nash
Things wrap up with a trio of Comedy Central quickies and some DVD previews.
Season FiveThe Show
Could this be the end for the Reno Sheriffs Department? Truthfully, it seems like every season of Reno 911! ends with that question, probably because they never could be sure the show would be renewed. Yet, like a comedy phoenix, the series returned strong though, adding a some new ingredients, but staying true to the core concept. Season five comes up with a few new bits and a few stand-out new characters, though when it stumbles, it falls harder than it has in the past.
The show is, as always, at its best when watching the crew fail miserable at their jobs, and there's plenty of that, though it feels like there's less of the regular "line of duty" footage, and more of the repeated set-ups, like the frequent bridge jumpers, an overly-dramatic fellow who keeps getting busted at a brothel or a suspect who gives himself away transparently through hypothetical questions. The arrests are far too repetitive for a series so unique, and the deficiencies are all the more obvious when held up against Plotnick's creepy sex offender or Debra (MadTV) Wilson's aggressive dominatrix.
The in-car conversations and morning briefings, complemented by new polygraph sessions, return, along with great characters like Swardson's male prostitute Terry, the creepy prostitute Jackie (who's not in good shape) and the ever-bizarre Big Mike (played by Toby Huss.) The usually entertaining PSAs that run before or after commercial breaks aren't quite as much fun this time though, split between Spanish-language advisories and somewhat-amusing animal shelter notices. To be honest, I don't think I really get the joke of the Spanish PSAs. There are also a few one-offs, like Weigel trying to sell her baby and Junior's campaign ad for his campaign to be Commissioner of Dead Carcass Removal. These are more along the lines of what these segments started out as, and, as such, are very funny.
While old favorites return, changes are to be expected, and the addition of two new characters is a boost to this season, starting with the new mayor of Reno, portrayed by George Lopez. Played like the Hispanic Marion Barry, he's over-the-top and perfect for the town, and opens the opportunity to bring along his wife Bunny for a fun run-in with the sheriffs. The other new arrival is Wanru Tseng, who creates the memorable Cindy, an Asian woman saved from the life of a sex slave and turned into an intern. Sure, it's a bit of a one-note stereotype joke, as she keeps reverting to the actions of a rub-and-tug girl, but there's a sunny innocence to the woman that makes it hilarious to watch. Cindy and the mayor are joined by a few excellent new guest stars also, including Diedrich Bader, as a parody of Dog the Bounty Hunter; a police acting coach played by Ryan Stiles; sketch pros David Wain, Michael Ian Black, Jay Johnson and Andrew Daly, as well as Patton Oswalt, Seth Green, Aisha Tyler, Ron White and Christina Applegate. In re-watching these show's a few years after they originally aired, it's interesting to see how some of the actors who played smaller roles went on to bigger things, like Keegan-Michael Key, who's in several episodes, playing a criminal who can't help but implicate himself.
What didn't really work this season are the episode-length stories, the cases or storylines that the shows are built around. Too many simply weren't interesting or all that funny, like the sheriffs training a group of Iraqi policemen, Junior joining a militia, or the group being interviewed about Raineesha for a magazine. Some of these plots work great, like the sheriffs confronting nothing but tragedy while selling Coconut Nut Clusters door to door for charity, Weigel and Dangle busting up a cocaine smuggling ring and getting their noses dirty, or the ridiculous idea of ladies Kevlar vests that act as bustiers, giving the girls on the force new weapons against crime, but too often, the stories weren't about law enforcement, which is where the show shines, like in their undercover exploits. Thankfully this wasn't the last season, as the show deserved to go out on top.
As is the custom, there are cast audio commentaries included, one more than last time out, and are available via the episode selection menus. There are less participants overall, though there are more people in the room at the same time, which makes for more conversation, which is as funny as any of the previous tracks. Displaying great chemistry, Yarbrough and McLendon-Covey are particularly entertaining together, though the five-man jam on the other four episodes are fun listens also.
Ep. 3: Yarbrough and McLendon-Covey
Ep. 6: Kenney-Silver, Lennon, Yarbrough, Garant and Alazraqui
Ep. 7: Yarbrough and McLendon-Covey
Ep. 9: Kenney-Silver, Lennon, Yarbrough, Garant and Alazraqui
Ep. 10: Kenney-Silver, Lennon, Yarbrough, Garant and Alazraqui
Ep. 16: Kenney-Silver, Lennon, Yarbrough, Garant and Alazraqui
"Cop Psychology: Inside the Minds of Reno's Deputies" is a set of 10 short clips, over 23 minutes in all, with UCB's Andrew Daly doing psychological examinations on the characters. These are like extensions of the better parts of the show, and Daly is brilliant as the examiner, bringing his prim and proper persona to the role. It's much better than the profiles from last season, but a chapter menu would have been appreciated, so you could pick and choose.
Unlike season four, there's a nice 40 minutes of deleted footage, but oddly, it's all from just four scenes. Basically, these clips show what happens as the camera rolls, and the result is the actors just going for it in their improv. The extended cocaine bust scene is solid, but too long, even for an extended scene, but the deathbed performance by Jackie the prostitute is a must see.
Season SixThe Show
Here, in season six, Wendi McLendon-Covey is no longer one of Reno's finest, and the show suffers from her absence (along with the loss of Garcia and Kimball, to a lesser degree) as they all perished at the end of Season Five.) In their place slip a pair of hard-edged transplants to Nevada, played by a pair of sketch-comedy veterans. Jack Declan, a brawny man with a short fuse, is played by an almost unrecognizable Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder Ian Roberts, but his gruff nature is hard to warm to, even if he does improve over time (mostly by showing a softer, more psychotic side to his personality.) He's not the only alumni from the UCB to appear this season, as only Amy Poehler is missing from Reno, with Matt Besser and Matt Walsh (and even Andrew Daly) stopping by.
The other new arrival is one who may sound familiar to longtime DVDTalk readers, as Joe Lo Truglio, yet another member of The State, portrays New York expat Francis "Frank" Rizzo. I like to think that the writers enjoyed my reviews of previous seasons of Reno 911! and named him in my honor, but it's not the rarest name in the world (having also been the name of my father, a famous mayor of Philadelphia and a character from The Jerky Boys.) Either way, just having another State alumni on board is reason enough to enjoy Rizzo's presence, as LoTruglio is simply fun to watch, but Rizzo isn't a bad character either, reintroducing an outsider's presence while also being mildly psychotic and probably a dirty cop.
The rest of the show is somewhat the same as it's ever been, which is just fine, because when it's on, it's fantastic, which is frequently the case in this collection of episodes. When the Pope's advance team visits Reno to see if he should make a stop there, the sheriffs' attempts to dissuade them is hilarious, and a flashback storyline kicked-off by the need to transfer old evidence tapes to DVD is a great look at the origins of the characters. The stories have always been important to the show, as they help get an episode from Point A to Point B, but it's the ride-along bits that make the series, and though some old favorites remain in place, including the now traditional PSAs (now with green-screen,) old friend roller-skating hustler Terry, former sex-slave-current-employee Cindy and the wacked-out mayor of Reno, there are several great new bits (and an unusually frequent tinge of (hilarious) race-based comedy.)
Nick Kroll, as his character El Chupacabra, gets in on the fun at a Spanish-language radio station that lets the sheriffs sit in for announcements. The action at the station is pretty funny (and has some incredible eye-candy in the form of busty Jessie Camacho), but the highlight has to be Carmen (the hilarious Sarah Tiana,) a nutbar woman who gets several visits from the authorities and who somehow gets funnier with every appearance, with one joke being so literate it's probably missed by 95% of the viewers. Perhaps it's a coincidence that several of the great episodes feature some incredible guest stars, but they're still beyond enjoyable, like Rainn Wilson (The Office) as a serial killer leading the sheriffs on a wild goose chase, or Patton Oswalt turning himself in for extradition to Thailand (taking Junior and Jones along with him.) The show has always had great guests, but this season seems to be packed with them, including A.D. Miles, Jonah Hill, Jane Lynch, Carmen Electra, Craig Robinson and Mindy Sterling and cameos by Jay Johnston (Mr. Show) and Keith Powell (Toofer from 30 Rock.)
The only place the season really feels to be a bit of a let-down (aside from the lack of Clemmy) is in the two-parter when Dangle hosts a murder mystery dinner, a traditional problem for the show, as the longer episodes tend to get too bogged down in story over the rapid-fire jokes that work best. Though it does allow for yet another sketch legend to appear (this time Kids in the Hall star Scott Thompson), there's not enough laughs for one episode, no less two. Oddly, one of the other bits that falls flat not once, not twice, but three times, is a gag that guest stars an entire other troupe, Human Giant. The premise is solid, as they are con-artists trying to scam the sheriffs, but the bit goes on too long all three times, and ends up failing, which is surprising considering how funny the Human Giant guys are.
Once again, there's a decent selection of extras, kicked off by eight audio commentaries, two more than last time. This may be making up for the fact that there's a lack of deleted scenes, but either way, it's much appreciated, as the groupings are solid, even if the episode selections are somewhat questionable. Pairing Yarbrough and Nash is a guaranteed good time, while putting Nash with Lennon behind the mics offers the chance to hear what sexual harassment sounds like. Smartly, Roberts and Lo Truglio are together to chat, so they can talk about their experience as newcomers. The tracks are quite good, and actually includes the first commentary that ever made me laugh out loud, as Kenney-Silver tells a story that is simply unbelievable.
Aside from that, there's "Tupperware for Tampa," an extended version of one of the aforementioned Human Giant bits (which is less funny thanks to its 13-minute length), two "Profiles in Valor" (two-minute web videos that, well, profile the new characters, using mostly clips from the series) focusing on the new team members, as well as the full commercials from the Robinson episode. These are a must-watch for a couple of reasons, including Robinson's performances, the Asian girl's very sexy dancing, and Weigel and Williams' amazing booty dances. The lack of deleted footage is certainly a downer though.
The 88 episodes of Reno 911! are spread over 14 DVDs, using the same set-up as the original season sets. The discs are held in one of the more unique packages in recent memory, as there are eight bound-together dual-hubbed trays, which sit loosely in a thick, clear case a little larger than three standard keepcases thick, with a large latch. The case then has a slipcover that repeats the cover art. The strange thing is, the eighth tray goes unused except for a paper print-out of a DVD with black cover art and the show's logo. (Thanks goes to reader Terry Estep for pointing out that this spot can be used to hold the Reno 911! movie, so perhaps that paper disc is a suggestion to do so.) The DVDs feature animated anamorphic-widescreen menus with options to watch all the episodes, select individual shows and check out special features where available. There are no audio options and no subtitles, though closed captioning is available.
The first five seasons are presented in full-frame, before the switch was made to anamorphic widescreen for season six. Overall, the full-frame episodes look better than they ever did on TV, with a presentation that boasts nice, vivid color and a clear, consistent image, that's free of any noticeable defects or digital artifacts, though the level of fine detail isn't very high. The anamorphic-widescreen transfers look amazing, with an image that brighter, with excellent color and a clean picture that's suffers from no obvious issues.
The series gets Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks from start to finish, and they are just as expected, with clear, distortion-free dialogue and strong music, offered up in a center-balanced stereo mix. The audio is uncensored for seasons two through six, and the profanity is flying fast and furious, giving the episodes a much different feel than they had on TV.
The Bottom Line
Reno 911! shows no signs of aging now, over 10 years after it first hit Comedy Central, and the 88 episodes here are tremendous fun, filled with excellent performances from some of the best in comedy, including the great number of The State alumni involved. This set, which reproduces the six solid previous sets in one handy, cost-effective, if bulky package, is a great way for the uninitiated to dive in, but if you own the previous sets, there's nothing here for you, other than a reminder to go back and give them a look again.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.