It’d been a full year since fans of Reno 911! laid eyes on the last season of the show, although production time between the two seemed to be longer. When the show finally returned, changes were evident from the start: the series shed three series stars and gained two new ones, one from The State and another from The Upright Citizens Brigade. With new blood infused into the series, the sixth season promised to bring a bit of the old and new together, although many found the results to be a little less than brilliant.
Locked, cocked and ready to rock, your favorite deputies are back for another season of Reno 911! Armed with the arrival of two new officers (the gun-loving Deputy Frank Rizzo and the cantankerous Sergeant Jack Declan), a bevy of guest stars (Nick Swardson, Jonah Hill, Patton Oswalt) and some usual suspects (Terry, the roller-skating prostitute), the sixth season delivers everything you’ve come to know and love from the deputies of the Reno Sheriff’s Department…namely, questionable workplace attire, botched assignments, and egregious displays of incompetence.
I’ll get this out of the way: the sudden and random disappearances of two of the staff members, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Carlos Alazraqui and Mary Birdsong, was explained away by a quick throw-away piece of dialogue in the first episode and never mentioned again (although Alazaqui’s character, Garcia, is later given a humorous scene later in the series…as a pile of ashes). It seems to be an incredibly disservice to the actors, especially Covey and Alazaqui as they’d been on the show since the very beginning. There’s not been much news about it, other than that it sounds like the three cast members didn’t leave the show willingly and were subsequently replaced by “friends” of the show runners…but that’s all just idle speculation for the most part. The show doesn’t generate enough publicity to warrant a full explanation, although the bevy of guest stars this season certainly must have drawn more than a few new heads into the series.
So how did the new season fair with three fewer familiar faces? Well, I have to say…I don’t know whether it’s just me acclimating to the new cast members or the lack of the old ones, but something just felt “off” the entire season. Both Joe Lo Truglio and Ian Roberts are certainly humorous in their own right, but with the sudden loss of estrogen and a minority, the show suddenly feels much less diverse. Ok, so Garcia never did much on the series to begin with but the way he did nothing was just absolutely hilarious. Maybe the three characters got to the point where nothing new could be written for them to do…but, man. To just write them off completely like that was just flat out cold.
There’s still plenty to laugh about in this season, but honestly my viewing of it was really just marred by trying to adjust to the new deputies. Worst of all they seemed to get a lot of screen time; normally this would be good to acclimate us to the new characters, but Truglio’s character seems like an odd combination of Junior and Jones, so he immediately feels old hat. Sure he’s a bit more absurd with the amount of rules he breaks, but it just feels like a third wheel to the party that doesn’t need to be there. Roberts character is just kind of…there, although his breakdown in the men’s room stall was absolutely hilarious, so hopefully we’ll see more of that in future seasons. I feel the same way about the new additions the same way I felt about Mary Birdsong when she first showed up: unnecessary, but funny. I was fine with her addition as the original cast members were still intact. This time around, however, we had to sacrifice three to gain two and it just doesn’t feel as smooth of a transition.
In essence there’s just something “missing” with this sixth season. Plenty of guest stars and whatnot, but as entertaining as Jonah Hill and Carmen Electra were, they just didn’t make much of an impact in one’s mind. And that can really be applied across the board with this season. Lot of funny things to laugh at, but nothing that truly stick out in one’s mind right away. Although there was that scene where Trudy tasered herself and the resulting scenes that ensued…well, yeah, I guess you could say that sticks out in your mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I was certainly laughing my head off during this season, but there were plenty of dull moments to wade through to get to the funny stuff. None of the Reno PSA’s this time around were the least bit entertaining and I found myself tapping my foot waiting for them to be over with. I never did find them particularly funny and why they continue to shove them in there I don’t know; they were good at first because of the cheap production quality and cheesy acting, but now it’s just old hat. An old, dirty, soiled hat.
I do still enjoy the series, but this sixth season just definitely left a hole. The idea that the three cast members were just let go without any real reason is bad enough, but it really sucks that their replacements weren’t great out the gate. I know that’s a tall order, but when you replace three long-standing members of the show, it’s kind of jarring to have to adapt to new characters that don’t really make much an impression and take up most of the screen time. It really sounds like I’m just dogging on Truglio and Roberts a lot and I don’t mean to; they’re great in their own right, but just in relation to the show itself…well, hell. The best comparison I can come up with is this feels more like the first season of the show than the first season did; the writing just isn’t there and while the humor is solid, there just aren’t enough laughs to really slap your knee about.
Overall still Recommended for Reno fans, but if you’re a newcomer…don’t use this as your basis for judging the show. It really is better than this.
The set itself arrives in a standard two thin-pak slip case like past seasons, with a disc inside each case as well as a few inserts advertising The State set as well as an insert to get a digital copy of the entire sixth season. Menu’s are simple and easy to navigate and while the audio is still a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, the video is, for the first time, a widescreen transfer. I’d said in the movie review that the show felt weird in widescreen, but for some reason I’m more acclimated to it now…although the entire format of the show hasn’t really transferred over to the widescreen ratio yet, as some of it doesn’t fill the screen (like the PSAs) at times. Not a huge deal and it’s nice to have the show fill the screen finally…although maybe that too had something to do with this season feeling “off.”
Extras include eight Audio Commentaries on episodes 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13. There’s plenty of participants and talk about the overall feeling of this season. I’m still bitter about the loss of the cast members, but the commentaries did help ease it a bit…but not enough so that it’s still forgivable yet. Still, the only behind the scenes information you’re going to get on the show is from these eight commentaries, so give em’ a listen if you’re a fan.
The remaining extras are all footage shot for the season that is either extended versions of what’s shown or just introductions to the new members. Included:
Tupperware for Tampa (Uncut) (13:08)
Profiles in Valor: Jack Declan (2:18)
Profiles in Valor: Dep. Rizzo (1:48)
Linoleum Commercial (0:48)
Deputy Commercial (0:58)
Overall a decent selection of extras and the whole “Tupperware” piece is like a whole subplot removed from the show, so that was interesting to see. Although I have to say that putting all of the above extras on the first disc was mighty confusing, as the menu art used for the special features menu didn’t even make sense until you started watching the second disc. Wish they’d stop doing stuff like that…
A decent package in the end and Recommended for Reno fans…but if you’re a newcomer, start with one of the earlier seasons. Not only are they dirt cheap at this point, they’re about twenty times better than this one.
Reno 911! – The Complete Sixth Season (Uncut) arrives on DVD on July 7th.