It's tempting to say the members of the Reno Sheriffs Department have little more than contempt for the people they protect–actually, that generalization could apply to their real-life counterparts in any city, for that matter–but it's not necessarily accurate. Sure, Reno seems to be full of degenerates and degenerates disguised as good citizens, but the deputies still have a sense of decency, dysfunctional though it may be.
Take tonight's episode as an example: They're selling coconut-nut clusters door-to-door to benefit the Sheriffs' Athletic League. That's noble, right? Okay, Dangle refers to the kids as "little 'tards," and Junior says, "Think about how many dodge balls this is gonna buy for them retards," but hey, their hearts are kind of in the right place–especially when Dangle and Junior pull in an astonishing $85, double what they made the preceding year.
The sale of these coconut-nut clusters provided the baseline plot this week, giving this episode the thematic coherence (relatively speaking) its predecessor lacked. Whereas last week we had a seemingly random collection of scenes with a few (admittedly great) following the fall of Reno mayor George Lopez, this week stuck pretty closely to the deputies' mishaps while selling coconut-nut clusters: "Coconut-nut clusters are like little sprinkled bits of happy sunshine covered in chocolate," Junior says, "and every crunch sounds like the laughter of happy children who are getting to play on new playground equipment." "When you're biting into this, you're biting into someone's dreams," Dangle adds.
Like last week's episode, this one was bolstered by appearances from sexual-predator Steve Marmella (Jack Plotnick), pervert Andrew (Jim Rash), and, of course, Terry (Nick Swardson). With the three of them in the same episode again, it's a bit of a competition for who will score the best laughs. Tonight's trophy goes to Steve, who last week was auditioning women and young girls for his long-in-the-works production of The Nutcracker. This week Steve has turned his property into a carnival, complete with balloons, a mechanical rocking horse, and a "house of mystry" [sic] for the entertainment of the little ones.
Of course, each part has a sinister pedophile agenda. The "house of mystry" is just a dark room where blindfolded kids grope in the dark; Steve's been spraying kids on the rocking horse with a hose and posting footage on YouTube; and the vendor's money-pouch belt he wears up front has a hole in it–kids can reach in for free quarters and get a handful of his cock while they're at it.
Only Reno 911! has such a good time with sexual predators and statutory rapists. Tonight's episode had the latter covered too, with a funny scene following Travis Junior's undercover sting operation to bust a bar for serving a minor–a hot 20-year-old Asian named Tammy. Travis sits at the bar as she walks in and awkwardly says the bartender, "I would like an alcoholic beverage, sir." Within a minute, she's pounded a shot, with the douchey bartender happily feeding her more. Why Travis doesn't bust him remains to be seen, though maybe he was waiting for her to drop the dime. Later, when she's hammered beyond recognition, Travis tries to get her to tell the bartender he's busted.
"She's got something to tell you," he says.
"This guy just stuck his thumb up my ass!" Tammy says to the bartender, who promptly throws Junior out a (closed) door. Afterward, Tammy rests her head in the lap of the bartender and mistakes the fake cigarette box concealing the camera for a real box of cigarettes. "No no no," says the bartender. "You gotta be 18 and over to smoke here. What are you? 15? 16?"
The darkest part of tonight's episode–and if it isn't Reno's darkest scene ever, it's in the top five–came when Kimball and Jones knock on the door of Andrew Daly, a.k.a. Brad the Friendly Homeowner. Regular viewers may remember him as the guy who's so friendly he thought a violent home invasion (and subsequent abduction of his daughter) was just a big misunderstanding. Naturally when Jones and Kimball show up at his door, he's as friendly as can be, inviting them in to get out of the heat and generally spreading good cheer. He even writes a check for the whole box of coconut-nut clusters! What a guy!
Then, for some reason, he's writing a note: "Dear Nancy, my way of thanking for eight years of marriage. P.S., Sorry for the mess." Watching this, I knew something bad was about to happen, and I suspected what it'd be. But they wouldn't do that, would they? Considering I've watched this show since it debuted on Comedy Central, I should have known the answer: Of course they would!
Friendly Brad quickly walks into the next room and blows his brains out, with the Reno production team adding not only the gun sound effect, but the sound of Brad's lifeless body hitting the floor. And a bunch of blood splattering on the kitchen door. People who don't enjoy Reno 911! can criticize the show for its faults, but it certainly has balls. That kind of dark comedy isn't so much funny as startling, but it hardly gets darker than that on basic cable.
Stunned, Jones and Kimball stare at each after Brad offs himself. Kimball glances down then says, "He didn't sign the check."
Da-da-da-duh-da-da! (If only I could find a sound clip for this. You know the tune. It's the jaunty little comic melody played after scenes on shows like Laugh-In or The Simpsons Smile-Time Variety Hour. But my Googling of variations of "da da da" turned up nothing.)
Grade: B A nice return to form this week–a little light on big laughs, but solid overall.
— Andrew Daly is also in Semi Pro as a character named Dick Pepperfield, who I think is a TV host. He also played Ben Franklin on that episode of The Office from earlier this season. Remember when The Office was on the air? Those were the days.
— Nick Swardson recently released a stand-up CD/DVD combo called Party. There'd been talk of reviewing it in The A.V. Club, but it came out right around the holiday crunch and slipped through the cracks. That may be a good thing, because it would've gotten a C+ from me, max. It has funny parts, but mostly the material felt hackneyed. How so? How 'bout an interminable closing bit with David Spade? Ugh. I was bummed. Oh well, he still rules as Terry–and I just got the new Todd Barry CD, so my hopes are up again. This is kinda funny, though:
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