Reno 911! heads into its midseason break in standard form this week, with an episode that typified most of this season thus far: pretty funny, mostly disconnected, and with a generous helping of sexual deviance, ball, vibrator, and racial jokes.
The racial theme was especially pronounced this week, as the episode's main storyline concerned Garcia and Junior driving down to Yuma, Ariz., to build an eighth-of-a-mile-long fence segment along the U.S.-Mexican border–"It's like Burning Man for right-wing rednecks," says Dangle. The first scene after the opening bit–the third and apparently final attempt to jump "the goddamn shark"–is in the briefing room, where Garcia wears a T-shirt proclaiming "SPEAK ENGLISH," with Junior rocking an American-flag hat and a T-shirt of a brick wall that says "If you build it, they can't come."
The obvious joke here is that Garcia is of some kind of Hispanic descent–his name is Garcia–but the show never points out the disconnect. I can't decide if that was a missed opportunity or well-executed restraint. I have to imagine, though, that the ensemble–rounded out this week by the reliably funny A.D. Miles as a one of the fence-builders–could have done something good with that. They did have some fun with Garcia, though, with the ongoing gag that he's a terrible shot. He manages to miss a gasoline canister at close range with what looks like an automatic weapon. (Gun freaks out there, help us out with the ID.)
If this season has proven anything, it's that Kerri Kenney is Reno 911!'s not-so-secret weapon, and this episode gave her a lot of space to deliver plenty of disturbingly funny lines. The best segment had her and Dangle on a city bus in an undercover sting operation for groping creeps. Dressed as the world's least convincing school girl, Wiegel pranced around the bus delivering lines like "I got my first pubic hair this week!" and making jackoff motions to potential marks. Dangle, dressed as construction worker who somehow looked more gay than the one from the Village People, observed from nearby, scanning passengers for erections or other signs of an impending grope. Needless to say, their operation fails miserably and ends with a young woman telling Wiegel, "You're an undercover cop, right? That construction worker has been showing me his balls since Second Avenue."
But Kenney had some funny moments elsewhere in the episode, too, particularly when she paraphrased Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech by saying, in a bad approximation of a black person's voice, "I gots a dream!" Or when she thinks the new German "nightstick" they ordered–see below–is voice activated, so she yells, "Hitler!" She showed her typical disconnect from reality in a scene where she and Williams address the camera in the office. Wiegel mentions that she misses having Garcia around, because he clocks in for her early so she can nap. She says all this in a weird voice while barely moving her lips, thinking that will somehow prevent Williams from hearing it. Oh the shenanigans she could have on a Reno spinoff. Title: That's Our Trudy!
I've mentioned in previous posts that this season hasn't made full use of Wendi McLendon-Covey (Clementine Johnson), but the scene where she discusses her views of the "Latin invasion" with Wiegel almost single-handedly made up for it. "I don't care if your back is wet as long as your money is green," Johnson says, adding, "I'm not gonna pick strawberries." That first line wins for sheer strangeness, but the second part slayed me. McLendon-Covey also had a couple funny bits later, when she pulled over a man who apparently died and when the deputies mistake her heated, double-ended vibrator for the new nightsticks they ordered.
The main story arc focused on Garcia, Junior, and the other miscreants at the border, bitching about Al Gore putting "ozone in the air" and making the earth a greenhouse, drinking, and generally sitting on their asses. You can see the commentary coming: These lazy asses sit around doing nothing, then eventually just hire Mexican day laborers to build the fence for them. That, in turn, leads to other hi-jinks and a run-in with the border patrol at end of the episode. The commentary isn't particularly insightful, but it's still funny, especially when Miles talks about how he fabricated a medical condition called "split lung" so he could work less at the baloney factory.
That's it for Reno 911! for a few months, thanks to Comedy Central's strange habit of dividing seasons. I don't watch the network's other original series enough to know if they do this with everything, but it's kind of annoying. The show used an Onion T-shirt in one of the episodes for this season, and dammit, we've already waited nearly a year to see it. I shake my fist at you, Comedy Central.
Before we go out, let's show the best sexual-deviance bit of the night.
See you in a few months.
— The Hollywood Video by my house is closing down, so they're unloading their stock. Most of it is the absolute dregs of the stock–wow, 20 copies of Date Movie!–but a few good items remain, like Todd Haynes' Safe and the Reno 911! movie. I don't need to see Safe again, so I picked up the Reno movie for a few bucks. When I interviewed those guys last year, Robert Ben Garant said the DVD would come with a disc of bonus material, basically an entire separate movie à la Wake Up Ron Burgundy. Instead it just has extended scenes. The difference between Reno 911!: Miami and Anchorman is, oh, millions dollars at the box office, so I suspect it was a lot easier to justify for Anchorman. I still want to see the other Reno, stuff though, as Garant told me they had about four hours of footage.