"I didn't think we could look any stupider on TV than we already do," says Travis Junior in the second episode of Reno 911!'s fifth season. This time, the bumbling Reno Sheriffs Department is outmatched by Diedrich Bader, playing Tommy Hawk, a Dog-like bounty hunter. Five seasons in, you'd think the show would have run out of new ways to humiliate its characters, but you'd be wrong. They always figure out a way to dig a little deeper than rock bottom. Episode two finds the deputies once again outmanned–though not outclassed, for once–by Bader's born-again bounty hunter, a booze-swilling meathead who endlessly quips catchphrases ("God don't make no junk–except you!" and a goofy hawk sound) and wears ridiculous bible-thumper T-shirts ("Jesus" spelled in AC/DC's style, for example).
The episode's best satire comes when the perspective switches from Reno 911!'s flat, crappy docu-video to Tommy Hawk's slickly overproduced, cinematic crime show, replete with explosions, product placement (the Red Bull Moment), widescreen format, and the Spike network logo on the bottom right. People flipping channels would scarcely detect the satire, as it looks like a typical show on Spike or MTV. Bader has a way with these kinds of guys–Tommy Hawk would have partied with Lawrence, his character in Office Space. Here's hoping he becomes a recurring character.
Although tonight's episode mostly revolved around the deputies' run-ins with Tommy Hawk, there was a funny B-plot with Wiegel working the department's "Neighbors & Friends" program for the elderly, disabled, shut-ins, and the otherwise incapacitated. Dangle tries to put a positive spin on the people the deputies help, but Wiegel just refers to them as "fat vegetable retards you gotta wash." Of course, she goes to the wrong house, where former State and Stella cast member David Wain quickly exploits Wiegel's obligatory generosity. Among the degrading tasks: feeding him very specific potato chips, bathing him while he masturbated, feeding him a banana he "ate" suggestively, and various cleaning duties. Of course, Wiegel sees the right guy–a man in a wheelchair who's apparently having trouble breathing–on the way to her patrol car, but she dismisses his request for help with a "who do I look like, Mother fucking Theresa?" There's also a quick couple of bits with an Asian intern, a sex slave the deputies liberated but couldn't afford to send back to her home country. Apparently, she's been giving incoming wards handjobs as part of the booking process. Both bits went on too long, as they were essentially one-joke premises: the aforementioned handjobs, then the intern confusing "fuck" with "fax." But the second bit with Dangle at least had a funny line, "They only taught you sex, didn't they?" Overlong bits go with the territory in improvisation, so it's to be expected on a show like Reno, which is almost entirely improvised. But Diedrich Bader's scenes made up for the sluggish bits. Still, a couple of quibbles: In these two episodes, we've barely seen Cedric Yarbrough (Jones) or Wendi McLendon-Covey (Clemmy Johnson). I don't think McLendon-Covey has even had a line so far. But we're only two episodes in–there's plenty of time. Grade: A Misc. Etc. — Store up some goodwill for Diedrich Bader: He also appears in the undoubtedly god-awful Meet The Spartans as "Traitoro." Some of the other character names, according to IMDB: Simon Cowell Look-A-Like; Britney Spears Look-A-Like, Paula Abdul Look-A-Like, Paris Hilton Look-A-Like, Ellen DeGeneres Look-A-Like (all listed next to Nicole Parker!); Dane Cook Look-A-Like; Ugly Betty Look-A-Like; Lindsay Lohan Look-A-Like. Dear God. — This episode was relatively non-dirty, at least compared to Terry's line in episode one about what happens when he attempts to have sex with his girlfriend. Fear not, Reno faithful: Shit's gonna get dirtier. From Anthony Layser's recent interview with Thomas Lennon in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "In an upcoming episode, there's a rather long scene where we're trying to find out which deputy is sticking his wiener in the peanut butter that's in the break room at the station."