Reno 911! The Complete Sixth Season - Uncensored
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Ethan C. Stevenson (19th August 2009).
The Show

“Reno 911! was canceled at 1:30 P.M. today. Won't be wearing the shorts again.”

Thomas Lennon posted that (the above) on his twitter account this past Thursday and honestly I can’t say I’m all that surprised. Reason one being that Comedy Central seems to be increasing their number of programs that pander to the lowest common dominator. Not that "Reno 911!" was high art (far from it at times) or anything, but it looks like bosses at the humor-based cable channel would rather schedule crap like "Tosh.0" (2009) and that new Jeff Dunham show that they’re currently promoting. But reason two – the reason I’m not particularly sad to see this show go – is that, frankly, "Reno 911!" has been in decline for some time.

When the series premiered in 2003, as a near-perfect comedic take on "Cops" (1989-Present) it was fresh, likable and fun. The characters of "Reno 911!" were outrageous but oh so hilarious – especially Lt. Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon) with his short-shorts. The show continued rather successfully until 2007 with the release of the first (and so far only) movie based on the series, "Reno 911!: Miami" and that dear reader is when the show began its demise. In the season 5 premiere Dangle jumped a shark for autism – funny, at least the writers acknowledged that the show was becoming a self-parody and wearing thin, but unfortunately also a little too true. And now with season 6, the show is hardly as unique as it once was. There are times in this season that not only do the jokes seem forced, they are ultimately unfunny and childish.

"Reno 911!" has never been perfect – by any means – but it’s almost always been entertaining. Sadly, I can’t say that’s the case anymore as some entire episodes fall flat. In years past a skit here and a joke there may have failed to find a laugh…. but, in the end, I’d still find something to like and the moments of outright hilarity far outweighed those awkward phases in episodes on the whole. The opposite is true more often than it isn’t with season 6; at times the show is inspired, like the series of old, but most other times it wants to venture so far into all-to-intentional camp that, while not unentertaining (yes, its still watchable, but you don’t really want to be looking at it) "Reno 911!" is not exactly what I’d call good – at least not anymore.

This season sees the return of a majority of the main cast: Lt. James Dangle (Thomas Lennon), Travis Junior (Robert Ben Garant), Deputy Williams (Niecy Nash), Trudi Wiegel (Kerri Kenney-Silver) and Jones (Cedric Yarbrough) all remain in uniform. Sadly, Deputies Clementine Johnson, James Garcia and Kimball are all gone: apparently killed (off screen) in a horrible fire. Their replacements are two unneeded but kind of enjoyable characters: Sergeant Jack Declan (Ian Roberts) and Deputy Frank Rizzo (Joe Lo Truglio). Declan is an overweight possible cross dresser and Rizzo is an out of control cokehead who tampers with evidence, solicits prostitutes and is a probable murderer.

Guest-stars this season include Patton Oswalt (appearing as Gillette Ben Coe, a supposed murderer who is not all that he seems to be, in the episode "Extradition to Thailand"), Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Jane Lynch and Rainn Wilson. These guests are part of the reason this show has fallen – the guest spots overshadow anything else in an episode in which they appear; I was ever aware that Dwight from "The Office" (2005-Present) was playing a serial killer who is constantly looking for things to deep throat (and that, to me, is less funny and more unnerving). Because of these guests (and other plot elements) the show seems horribly contrived these days. And some jokes are entirely juvenile. A fake commercial featuring a credit card designed for use only with Internet pornography is called the "MasterBait Card" – har, har, har.

The final entry into the series isn’t completely terrible, in fact it has one of the best episodes in the entire run which, although it appears at the end of disc one, almost works perfectly as a finale. "VHS Transfer Memory Lane" is hilarious; the episode has our deputies transferring old tapes of crime scenes and miscellaneous footage to DVD for archival purposes. These glimpses into the past answer some of the curiosities fans may have. Why exactly does Junior wear that vest everywhere? What happened to Trudi – was she always as stupid as she seems? Those questions and more are answered in this episode, which also offers a look at Dangle before he realized he was gay. But a few good episodes can’t save this, a season that isn’t a complete wreck, but also not entirely a winner either.

All 15 episodes of the series 6th season are included, spread across 2 discs:

- "Training Day"
- "Extradition to Thailand"
- "Digging with the Murderer"
- "Dangle’s Murder Mystery, Part 1"
- "Dangle’s Murder Mystery, Part 2"
- "We Don’t Want The Pope"
- "VHS Transfer Memory Lane"
- "Helping Mayor Hernandez"
- "Getaway Trailer"
- "Stoner Jesus"
- "Deputy Dance"
- "Viacom Grinch"
- "The Midnight Swingers"
- "Secret Santa"
- "Wiegel’s Couple’s Therapy"

Video

Season six marks the series' transition to anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen. The first season to be shot in 16x9 (previously 4x3 pillar box only) and broadcast in high-definition on Comedy Central's new HD simulcast, visually – aside from the wider proportions – the show looks very similar to how it always has. Even though "Reno 911!" is now widescreen, the series was still protected for 1.33:1 on the standard def channel – no impertinent information is placed outside the smaller frame. This is a serviceable DVD transfer with average detail, fairly bland colors and a dry, almost clinical, documentary-like-look.

Audio

A standard 224 kbps English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is the one and only option available. Faithful to the original broadcast and featuring clear, intelligible dialog (but not much else), this outing of "Reno 911!" sounds pretty much just as you would expect a TV mix to. There is a fine line between how good a show could sound and good a show can sound – I know it sounds like I’m saying the same thing, but I’m not. I’ll explain: on one hand, a proper 5.1 remix could probably due wonders; considering that the show is not produced in 5.1, this 2.0 mix sounds as good as it can.
There are no subtitles.

Extras

Paramount/Comedy Central offers up a decent but average supplement package, including multiple audio commentaries, featurettes, an unrated extended scene, fake commercials, WMV-compatible digital copy and a bonus trailer. Unfortunately the video-based supplements are presented in 4x3 only.

A digital copy of all 15 episodes is included (download code and instructions via pamphlet – there is no physical disc, just access to a website). Unfortunately, as an iPod and Mac user these files are useless to me – for whatever reason, Paramount/Comedy Central have made the decision to make "Reno 911! – The Complete Sixth Season" compatible with WMV (Windows Media) products only. Not only that, but these files require PlaysForSure, a copy-protection scheme that is incompatible with Microsoft’s own Zune playback device.

DISC ONE:

Audio commentaries: 3 tracks with the deputies (Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Niecy Nash, Cedric Yarbrough, Ian Roberts and Joe Lo Truglio) are included, appearing on 3 episodes on the first disc. Unfortunately the actors are not in character nor are any of these audio commentaries all that funny. Instead we get fairly standard production info and complimentary comments on the cast and crew from each participant. Don’t get me wrong, these are by no means terrible, just… by-the-book ordinary, kind of dry and depressingly factual. Commentaries include:

Audio commentary on the episode "Extradition to Thailand" with Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Niecy Nash, Cedric Yarbrough, Ian Roberts and Joe Lo Truglio.

Audio commentary on the episode "Digging with the Murderer" featuring Thomas Lennon and Niecy Nash.

Audio commentary on the episode "Dangle’s Murder Mystery, Part 2" with Niecy Nash, Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant and Ian Roberts.

"Tupperware for Tampa Uncut" is an extended scene; two pitchmen try and convince the deputies to sell Tupperware in exchange for vacation days in Tampa, Florida. Runs 13 minutes 8 seconds.

"Profiles in Valor: Sgt. Declan" is a featurette introducing viewers to Sergeant Jack Declan. 2 minutes 18 seconds.

"Profiles in Valor: Dep. Rizzo" is a featurette introducing viewers to Deputy Frank Rizzo. 1 minute 48 seconds.

"Linoleum Commercial", the fake commercial, featuring Levon French (Craig Robinson), is included in its entirety. 48 seconds.

"Deputy Commercial" Craig Robinson returns with his character's fake commercial for our deputies. The commercial is included in its entirety. 58 seconds.

Pre-menu bonus trailer is included for:

- "The State: The Complete Series" which runs for 1 minute 8 seconds.

DISC TWO:

Audio commentaries: 5 tracks with the deputies (Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Niecy Nash, Cedric Yarbrough, Ian Roberts and Joe Lo Truglio) are included, appearing on disc two. Unfortunately the actors are not in character nor are any of these audio commentaries all that funny. Instead we get fairly standard production info and complimentary comments on the cast and crew from each participant. Don’t get me wrong, these are by no means terrible, just… by-the-book ordinary, kind of dry and depressingly factual. Commentaries include:

Audio commentary on the episode "Helping Mayor Hernandez" with Joe Lo Truglio and Ian Roberts.

Audio commentary on the episode "Getaway Trailer" with Kerri Kenney-Silver and Joe Lo Truglio.

Audio commentary on the episode "Deputy Dance" with Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant and Kerri Kenney-Silver.

Audio commentary on the episode "Viacom Grinch" with Robert Ben Garant and Ian Roberts.

Audio commentary on the episode "The Midnight Swingers" with Cedric Yarbrough and Niecy Nash.

Packaging

A 2-disc set, Season Six is packaged in slim amaray cases and housed inside a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

"Reno 911!: The Complete Sixth Season" is very middle-of-the-road. This season of the show is neither the best nor the worst of what the series has to offer, video is middling, audio is average and extras are nothing special. A low MSRP makes this much easier to swallow and fans will likely find much to enjoy with this 2-disc DVD set. New comers and those who don’t follow the show regularly may still find something likeable but, in the end, there are better places to start with "Reno 911!"

The Show: C Video: C+ Audio: C Extras: C Overall: C

 


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