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Reno 911!: Reno 911!

It's been eight months since Reno 911! ended its fourth season with a dramatic (relatively speaking) cliffhanger: Officer Garcia whisking away Leslie, Dangle's would-be husband, from the altar–well, the hospital room where Deputy Wiegel was waiting to give birth. Wiegel had a secret to reveal, too: She knew who had donated the sperm that got her pregnant, and she insinuated it was poor Dangle.
The unrequited love (well, maybe not "love," but "weird one-way sexual tension") between Wiegel and Dangle is a well-established plot point on the series–as well as the film version, where Wiegel and Dangle even tried to get it on–but the Garcia-Dangle-Leslie love triangle totally came out of left field. Sure, Garcia and Dangle spooned naked to fight hypothermia on the Season Four's first episode, but Garcia is a well-established reactionary homphobe. He and Clementine were a couple, and Garcia loudly complained during Season Four's cliffhanger about the Dangle's man-marriage.
So during these past eight months, I've wondered what lies ahead for the cast of Reno 911! and how any Garcia-is-gay-and-"married"-to-Dangle's-man plotline could possibly be sustainable. Was I the only one thinking about this? Probably.
Of course, all these loose dramatic (again, relatively speaking) ends were basically tied up within five minutes of the Season Five premiere, and I should've seen it coming. Why? Because I've been a fan of Reno since it debuted, and I should know by now that show's leaders Thomas Lennon (Dangle) and Robert Ben Garant (Junior) are pranksters, ones who aren't above pulling a "Just kidding!" ending out of a hat.
Garcia? He was just faking so he could arrest Dangle and Leslie for trying to get married, which is against the law in Nevada. (Nevada has laws?) Wiegel's baby daddy remains a mystery, because Wiegel wants to use her knowledge as a tool in passive-aggressive warfare. So it's quickly back to business as usual in Reno, though we learn in an early scene that Dangle and Garcia are apparently only speaking to each other through their attorneys.
Does that all sound like a copout? (Get it? Cop-out?) Maybe. As if to preemptively acknowledge that, the season premiere opens with the Reno Sheriffs Department holding a "Jump The Shark" fund-raiser for autism. Dangle, decked out in a helmet and kneepads, plans to leap off a small ramp and over a little tank with a shark swimming in it. It goes without saying that he fails, and shenanigans ensue.


Though the chaos that follows was funny, I found the premise behind this opening bit a little too on the nose, as they say. Ironic use of "jump the shark" is passé by this point. (Literally, the first line of dialogue in the episode is Dangle yelling, "Okay, it's finally happening! We are jumping the shark!") There's a less hackneyed way to express the "hey, maybe we're out of ideas" sentiment. Where's their Poochie? Oh right...it's Deputy Kimball, who joined the cast a couple seasons ago. Though that's not really fair; there aren't a lot of parallels between Poochie and Kimball; and despite my initial skepticism, she has fit in well with the rest of the miscreants in the Reno Sheriffs Department.
Copout or no copout, Reno 911! returned in fine form with this season premiere. (It gets a lot better, too, in the second episode, with Diedrich Bader as a Dog-like bounty hunter.) A recurring bit where Wiegel tries to sell her baby pushed all of Reno's favorite racism buttons, and there was of course plenty of lowbrow comedy, a staple of Garant and Lennon's. (Deputy Williams to Jones: "Are you Wiegel's baby's daddy? Did you look at its ears and nutsack?")
Also appearing in the episode were two Reno regulars and favorites: rollerskating gay prostitute Terry (Nick Swardson) and bespectacled pervert Andrew (Jim Rash). Terry claims to be waiting for his girlfriend, and to the deputies' disbelief, Seeeeemji (Christina Applegate) shows up. Even more unbelievable: They're expecting…but they don't have sex. In one of the episodes most killer lines, Terry confesses, "We get into the bedroom, and we get nude, and I can't get hard, and I vomit."
Ah, Reno 911!. Don't come here expecting class, folks. But that's never been the point.
Grade: B+
Post-script:
That whole exchange with Andrew about what books he reads–or doesn't read–killed me.
Dangle: "What's the last book you read?"
Andrew: Superfudge.
Everyone: "Superfudge?!"
Andrew: "Have you read it recently? That's a book you reread and reread and reread."
The sequence over the closing credits, with Andrew arguing about the awesomeness of The Secret was also pretty great.

Filed Under: TV, Reno 911!

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