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"Reno 911!" The Complete Series DVD Review

Buy Reno 911!: The Complete Series DVD from Amazon.com Reno 911!: The Complete Series (2003-09)
Show & DVD Details

Creators/Writers: Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney-Silver / Directors: Michael Patrick Jann, Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Brad Abrams

Regular Cast: Cedric Yarbrough (Dep. S. Jones), Niecy Nash (Dep. Raineesha Williams), Robert Ben Garant (Dep. Travis Junior), Thomas Lennon (Lt. Jim Dangle), Kerri Kenney-Silver (Dep. Trudy Wiegel, Jackie DeMartino), Carlos Alazraqui (Dep. James Garcia), Wendy McLendon-Covey (Dep. Clementine Johnson), Mary Birdsong (Dep. Cherisha Kimball), Joe Lo Truglio (Dep. Frank Rizzo), Ian Roberts (Sgt. Jack Declan)

Recurring Characters: Nick Swardson (Terry Bernadino), Toby Huss (Big Mike), Kristina Hayes (Principal Manderville), Wanru Tseng (Cindy the Sex Slave), Jim Rash (Andrew), Lisa LoCicero (Maria Storm), Kyle Dunnigan (Craig Pullin), Jack Plotnick (Steve Marmella), David Lincoln (Sniffy the Drug Hound), Rachael Harris (Debbie Dangle, Claire the Madam), Keegan Michael Key (Theoretical Criminal, Cow Man/Blu-ray Thief), Patton Oswalt (Boozehammer of Galen, Dungeon Master, others), Chris Tallman (Gary the Klansman, Porn Guy), George Lopez (Mayor Hernandez), Jessie Camacho (Chupi Chupi), Brian T. Finney (John), Nadine Ellis (Nurse), Cathy Shim (Assorted), Paul Rudd (Guy Gerricault), Zach Galifianakis (Frisbee), Jayme Rhae Edwards (Mrs. Frisbee), Nat Faxon (Milk Shake), Oscar Nuñez (Captain Dwayne Hernandez), Matt Besser (Pot Dealer, Captain Miller), DeRay Davis (Assorted), Andrew Daly (Brad the Friendly Homeowner), Matt Walsh (Ranger Glen, Ian Meltzer), Tracey Walter (Sheriff Walter Chechekevitch), Debra Wilson (Dominatrix), Brian Posehn (Stevie the Coroner), Carrie Keagan (Frosty the Stripper), Lisa Lampanelli (Reverend Goldberg), Steve Little (Assorted), Ken Marino (Assorted), Michael Ian Black (Assorted), Natasha Leggero (Assorted), A.D. Miles (Assorted), Rob Huebel (Assorted), Aziz Ansari (Assorted), Paul Scheer (Assorted), David Koechner (Assorted), Nick Kroll (El Chupacabra), Gary Anthony Williams (Enrique Dangle), Ben Zook (Jeffrey De La Costa), Masi Oka (Japanese Tourist), Sarah Tiana (Carmen), Simon Helberg (Assorted), David Wain (Assorted), J.P. Manoux (Naked Armenian), Mindy Sterling (Assorted), George Sharperson (Assorted), Mina Olivera (Best Looking Hooker), Kenny Rogers (Himself)

Notable Guest Stars: Cheryl Hines (Trailer Park Lady), Charlie Day (Inbred Twin), Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Inbred Twin), Danny DeVito (Himself), Martin Mull (Lt. Jim Kringle), Lorenzo Lamas (Dep. Garcia), Donna D'Errico (Dep. Barbara Cooper), Wayne Brady (Dep. Culufu Garwood), Lou Ferrigno (Dep. Cletus Senior), Sean Young (Dep. Wendy Kelton), Traci Bingham (Dep. Verlot), Jeff Foxworthy (voice of Fast Eddie McClintock), Carrot Top (Himself), Brian Unger (Reading Ron), Paul Reubens (Rick), Chelsea Handler (Pinky the Drunk Driver), Taylor Negron (Hector), Christina Applegate (Seeeeemji), Diedrich Bader (Tommy Hawk), Aisha Tyler (Befany Dangle), Seth Green (Rick the Manager), Ron White (Captain Morgan), Dan Castellaneta (Commissioner Jerry Salerno), Jonah Hill (Daniel Shaheen), Rainn Wilson (Calvin Robin Tomlinson), Robert Costanzo (Don Bronzoni), Carmen Electra (Miss Uecker), Craig Robinson (Levon French), Jane Lynch (Therapist)


Running Time: 1945 Minutes (88 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated
Seasons 1-5: 1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Season 6: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English) / Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned; Extras Not Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $45.98 / Original Airdates: July 23, 2003 - July 8, 2009
DVD Release Date: November 4, 2014 (Discs Originally Released Between 2004 and 2009)
Thick Clear Keepcase with Trays in Cardboard Slipcover
Fourteen single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s)

Buy Reno 911! The Complete Series on DVD from Amazon.com

As far as original programming goes, Comedy Central has tried virtually everything there is: game shows, sketch shows, variety shows. The odds are against any given show succeeding, but the 23-year-old basic cable channel seems to have had far more misses than hits. Examining the hits reveals there is no magic recipe for success.
The channel's three longest-running shows are the animated satire "South Park" and the fake news programs "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report." Their other current big ratings draws are the crude sitcom "Workaholics", sketch show "Key & Peele", and Internet video round-up "Tosh.0." There is little in common between these popular ones beyond the fact that each is designed to make viewers laugh.

One of the more successful shows in Comedy Central history further illustrates the unpredictable nature of success. "Reno 911!" was a spoof of "COPS", a mostly improvised comedy from members of MTV's 1990s comedy troupe "The State." A mockumentary before that format caught on in American television, "Reno" could have easily joined the long list of short-lived Comedy Central casualties. Instead, it wound up running six seasons for a total of 88 half-hour episodes, with a theatrical film coming halfway into the run.

In his morning briefing, Lt. Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon) briefs his officers on how he'll be deciding who gets two tickets to an execution. Deputy Jones (Cedric Yarbrough) questions frequent troublemaker Terry Bernadino (Nick Swardson) at a Mexican restaurant.

What did "Reno 911!" do right that so many other original Comedy Central series have not? The simple answer seems to be that the show simply remained funny on a regular basis and in a way different from its contemporaries. "COPS" has run so long (it's currently in its 27th season) and enjoyed frequent reruns because criminals are entertaining. At least the ones who aren't actually hurting anyone as they try unsuccessfully to dispute their obvious guilt and talk their way out of punishment, only to later agree to have their documented experience broadcast on network television uncensored. It's not a show you need to watch in order or tune in every week, but one that if you have time to kill and lots of cable options, it will likely fit the bill and not make you regret giving it a look.

"Reno 911!" takes the appeal of "COPS" and exaggerates it with even more ludicrous criminals (frequently, recurring guest actors), who are being pursued by the world's least professional police force. That it unfolds without a script renders everything natural, fresh, and unpredictable. The entire cast is up to the tall improvisational challenges and the results are frequently hilarious. Like "COPS", "Reno" isn't a show you need to follow religiously. Just find an airing during some down time, tune in, and something funny is bound to happen in mere minutes.

The show offered boosts to its cast members, Generation Xers born around 1970 who were not and still are not household names, but whose faces you'd surely recognize from countless supporting roles in comedic (and sometimes dramatic) films big and small. While the show was running, creators Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon saw their screenwriting careers take off, together penning such hit family films as The Pacifier and Night at the Museum. Lennon has been something of an on-camera fixture as well, popping up in huge blockbusters (Hancock, The Dark Knight Rises, the latest Transformers) as well as nice-sized comedy hits (I Love You, Man, We're the Millers, 17 Again, Hot Tub Time Machine).

Deputies Clementine Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenney-Silver) patrol Reno together. The Reno 911! DVDs display creativity in their menu designs.

The show had its fair share of guest stars. A number of them have risen in stature since ad libbing on the show, like Zach Galifianakis, Nick Swardson,
Charlie Day, and Keegan-Michael Key. Others, from Paul Rudd to Kenny Rogers, were already famous fans happy to contribute in any way they could.

"Reno" ended abruptly, cancelled without closure following a final season that saw some major and questionable personnel changes. Reruns have disappeared from Comedy Central, but remain in syndication here and there. In 2011, talk of a revival on Netflix to bump the series up to the 100-episode mark that syndication packages desire led to nothing of material. Now, for no reason more apparent than the fact that they hadn't already done so, Comedy Central and Paramount Home Entertainment have treated this Noughties fixture to The Complete Series, a 32-hour DVD collection recycling the 14 discs of the show's six complete season sets at a very reasonable list price of just $45.98 (which discounts have dropped to a sale price of under $30).

Those who own Seasons 1 through 6 on their original DVDs will not find anything new here apart from condensed packaging that only takes as much shelf space as four standard DVD movie cases. But those who missed some seasons and those who aren't confident that Netflix will once again allow customers to stream the show in its entirety are sure to see the value in this big box set, which includes the many bonus features assembled over the years, including 32 episode audio commentaries, over an hour of alternate, extended and deleted scenes, "Profiles in Valor", and nearly two hours of outtakes.

To think that this complete series collection will only set you back as much as two of the season sets would illustrates the allure of this release. So too does the current Amazon sales price that assigns an ownership cost of just 34 cents per episode.

The set is packaged in one giant clear keepcase (the biggest I've ever seen), which uses eight loose swinging trays to hold all the discs. A disc-shaped piece of cardboard seems to be a placeholder for the movie, Reno 911! Miami, a Fox release not included here. That sturdy, thick brick of a keepcase is topped by a slipcover utilizing the same front and rear cover artwork. The discs are identical to the ones previously issued, only now they feature bland uniform gray labels, a step down from the full-color previous ones featuring the cast.

"Reno 911!" did not make the leap to widescreen until its final season. It is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic, while the first five remain in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. All six seasons treat the show to Dolby Stereo 2.0 soundtracks.

Just as in their previous DVD releases, Season 1 censors profanity as it was on air. The rest do not, but they all blur nudity, middle fingers and such.

The Reno police officers assemble in this Season 1 episode. Lt. Dangle (Thomas Lennon) and Dep. Junior (Robert Ben Garant) believe they've just spotted Leonard Nimoy on a stakeout.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If the regularly entertaining "Reno 911!" is a show you'd like to own more than a taste of on DVD, then this new Complete Series set should fit the bill, with its low price, compact packaging, and complete recycling of previous releases' contents.

Buy Reno 911! The Complete Series on DVD now at Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Written by Lennon & Garant: Hell Baby • Balls of Fury! • Night at the Museum • The Pacifier • Herbie: Fully Loaded
COPS: 20th Anniversary Edition • The Best of The Colbert Report • NewsRadio: The Complete Series • Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 1
Thomas Lennon: 17 Again • I Love You, Man • We're the Millers • Transformers: Age of Extinction
Cedric Yarbrough: Drillbit Taylor | Wendi McLendon-Covey: Think Like a Man Too | Mary Birdsong: The Descendants
Noughties Comedy: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy • Blades of Glory • The Hangover
New: Space Station 76 • Kingpin • Happy Christmas • Garfield Holiday Collection • Cartoon Network Holiday Collection

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Reviewed November 10, 2014.



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