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STUDIO: Comedy Central
RUNNING TIME: 352 Minutes
Cast Commentary on the Episodes
“It’s everything that you don‘t see in COPS.”
Robert Ben Garant, Niecy Nash, Mary Birdsong, Kerri Kenney, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Carlos Alazraqui, Cedric Yarbrough, Thomas Lennon
A camera crew follows the eight members of the Reno, Nevada Sheriff‘s Department. Hilarity (sometimes depravity, sometimes stupidity) ensues.
Is it standard practice to let the autistic perform the stunts themselves?
So I’m not entirely sure how much setup is needed in a review of this show – hell even if you’ve never seen it I’d be willing to wager you’ve at least seen one episode of COPS. That show’s been on forever – and that, essentially, is what this is. There are a few differences here and there in format and such – but the basic conceit is the same. Follow police officers, documentary style, as they go about their daily routines. The big difference here is that we actually get to know our officers. There’s Jim Dangle (Lennon), Trudy Weigel (Kinney), Clementine Johnson (McLendon-Covey), Raineesha Williams (Nash), S. Jones (Yarbrough), James Garcia (Alazraqui), Travis Junior (Garant) and Cherisa Kimball (Birdsong). Format-wise, each episode has a very basic outline that is touched on in between the non-sequitors and occasionally we’ll get a bit of an arc, either story-wise or in certain character traits.
The “joke” in all of this is that all of these cops are inadequate and don’t belong on the force. And I get that – and a lot of times the ineptness is so pronounced and over the top that it gets a little silly, but one of the things I really enjoy about the show is that the majority of the time it feels like the shit they edit out of COPS. There’s a quality to it all that feels natural and realistic and a lot of times you can get sucked into the show and forget that it’s satire. That of course is due in LARGE part to the fact that nearly every frame is improvised.
So – those are the basics. Now on to the specifics of season five.
So, like I said earlier – this isn’t a show built on episodes. It’s a show built on moments. Nobody has a favorite episode of COPS, but they’ll ask you “Did you ever see the one where the cop thought the lady’s house was on fire but he couldn’t wake her up so he busted out every single pane of glass in her big ass picture window to get her out of bed – only to discover that it was the neighbor’s house that was on fire?”* That’s exactly how you remember Reno 911. I really wouldn’t be able to tell you which episode any moment came from, but I can damn sure tell you the moments. Arc-wise, Wiegel has her baby and starts the auction process and Dangle returns from lockup after he was arrested for trying to have a same-sex marriage in Reno (from the finale of season 4) There were some recurring moments as well – people trying to commit suicide off of that bridge; Junior’s run-ins with a speeding school bus driver; Dangle’s many failed attempts to keep his bicycle from being stolen and of course, the Reno Sheriff’s Department PSAs. Then you get into more sporadic moments – the gang’s run in with tv Bounty Hunter Tommy Hawk (Diedrich Bader); Wiegel and Dangle’s infiltration of a cocaine-smuggling ring; Junior’s bid for Commissioner of Dead Carcass Removal; Jones and Garcia’s undercover work at a burger joint and my personal favorite – Jones and Kimball going door to door to sell fund-raising candy.
“We urge you not to be fooled by appearances. This may look like an ordinary baby, but just last week he murdered 17 prostitutes, robbed a string of liquor stores, took an old lady hostage and even pissed himself. If you see this baby, please call the Reno Sheriff’s Department.”
But of course, that’s just what goes on with our main characters. The secondary cast is just as entertaining as the stars and oftentimes they steal the show. Notables obviously include Nick Swardson’s gay, rollerskating prostitute Terry (arguably the most popular and definitely my favorite); George Lopez’s drunken, pervy mayor – who’s been indicted for God-knows-what; Patton Oswald’s “Bozehammer of Galen,” a cosplay freak who takes the games a little too seriously and that bald guy who’s always stirring shit up at the local brothel.
At the end of the day, the show is pretty goddamn funny and this season is no exception. Everybody is on top of their game and considering how much of a mess that movie was, I was pleasantly surprised to see everybody back in top form. It’s kind of hard to compare this season to others as they’re all pretty much the same but if you’ve never seen the show and are looking for a jump-off point, this season is as good as any other.
This is one of those “A picture is worth a thousand words” moments.
The artwork, while making pretty good use of the real estate, is kind of boring. The box features the whole cast with Williams’ giant ass being the focal point. The slimlines offer other cast photos on the outside, while the interior uses a “police report” template to give episode synopses and present snaps from the various episodes in an “evidence photo” capacity. It doesn’t look bad but it could have been better.
“HAHAHA – he just keeps saying ‘meow.'” “I know! It’s like they’ve taken our lives and put it on the screen!”
In the features, there’s cast commentary on a select few episodes that are fun to listen to, a “cop psychology” Featurette that has Andrew Daly acting as a psychologist who gives psych evaluations to all of our officers. It has its moments but it ultimately is a bit too long and focuses too much time in one place. On a show that’s very rapid-fire and fast-paced, this does feel a little bit out of place. Rounding out the features are the extended scenes – the most notable of which is Dangle and Weigel’s cocaine bust. It too drags on a bit too long but it really showcases Lennon and Kinney’s improv skills. All-in-all it’s a good bunch of features but I doubt you’ll be spending much time revisiting them.
* – No joke – that actually happened. The look on the officer’s face when he realized he had broken into the wrong house was fantastic.
“Yeah – I killed him. So what? With his stupid show and his ‘edginess.’ He SUCKED. And THAT motherfucker was the comedic face for MY people!? FUCK THAT!! So yeah, I shot that motherfucker in the throat.”
OVERALL 8 out of 10