Reno 911! is an American comedy television series that initially ran on Comedy Central from 2003 to 2009. It is a mockumentary-style parody of law enforcement documentary shows, specifically Cops, with comic actors playing the police officers. Most of the material is improvised, using a broad outline with minimal scripted material. The series spawned a film, Reno 911!: Miami, featuring the same cast. Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant and Kerri Kenney-Silver all starred in and are billed as creators of the series.
|Created by||Robert Ben Garant|
Robert Ben Garant
Joe Lo Truglio
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||88 (list of episodes)|
|Camera setup||Videotape; Single camera|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Jersey Television|
Comedy Central Productions
|Distributor||MGM Worldwide Television Distribution|
|Original network||Comedy Central|
|Original release||July 23, 2003 –|
July 8, 2009
The show is a direct satire of the iconic Fox Broadcasting Company reality legal series Cops (which follows actual police officers through their daily duties, such as chasing criminals, and intervening in domestic disputes). Reno 911! features members of the fictitious, massively inept "Reno Sheriff's Department"—distinct from the actual Reno Police Department, and, Washoe County Sheriff's Office, both of which are absent from the series (although Comedy Central has repeatedly referenced the series as being about the "men and women of the Washoe County Sheriff's Department"). In the course of their duties patrolling both the city of Reno and the rest of Washoe County, Nevada, the deputies sometimes address the camera directly (as though being interviewed for a documentary). The show deals heavily in politically incorrect and racy humor, including many jokes about race, sexual orientation, substance abuse, rape, pedophilia, and mental disorders. Another main comedic aspect of the show is the outlandishly severe incompetence of the deputies—often resulting in their being outsmarted by the criminals they are attempting to control.
Only the basic plot elements of the show are scripted, while the dialogue is improvised—enhancing the illusion of reality (a practice referred to as retroscripting). Unlike Cops, which the show parodies, Reno 911! Sheriff's deputies are constantly cursing, causing much of their dialogue to be censored for broadcast. The actors often perform their own stunts. A constantly changing cast of weirdos, prostitutes, homeless people, survivalists, political figures, celebrities, etc. are portrayed by comedian friends of the primary cast, and the cast themselves, while disguising their voices and general appearance (and, whose faces were blurred in the style of Cops).
The show's characters occasionally refer to their own program. They insist that the show's producers told them the videotaped footage was going to be used for a Fox Television documentary series titled Heroes on Patrol; and, often stated in frustration, that they have no control over what is aired, and that the show only seems to capture their 'moments' of incompetence. The many "good" incidents, they allege, are left out of the (show-within-a-show's) final edit. Also, some suspects in the show refer to the film crew, and the program being aired on television; occasionally, they will attempt to get arrested just to be on TV.
In Thomas Lennon's words, Reno 911! came about, "like the best of ideas, through total desperation." Following the end of Viva Variety, The State alumni worked on a series of pilots for the Fox Broadcasting Company, one of which, after a year's worth of dedicated writing, was terminated the day before shooting. It was scheduled to begin in the fall of 2000. With a month left before the pilot was expected to be due (and half of the budget still unused), the team asked if they could produce another pilot with the remaining resources, and the Fox executives agreed. Working quickly to take advantage of this, the initial Reno 911! pilot was conceived and shot in five days. Cedric Yarbrough, who had been hired for the cast of the canceled pilot, said that the cast was advised to "come up with [their] own characters" and return for filming.
As originally written, the sheriff's department material would have served as link material between traditional comedy sketches; the canceled project was being considered for the Fox Saturday lineup, and the team thought at the time that the Cops format was a natural framework for sketch comedy. However, during the shooting—and especially the editing—they realized the police element was more interesting than the sketches, and the finished pilot was, according to Robert Ben Garant, "remarkably similar" to the series that eventually aired. Nevertheless, Fox turned down the completed pilot. According to Lennon, their decision not to pick the show up was influenced by a scene, preserved in the eventual Comedy Central pilot, involving Lt. Dangle passionately kissing a man. It was another two years before Comedy Central greenlit the project.
The establishing shots for the show were filmed in Reno, and everything else was filmed in Los Angeles and Carson, California, with some parts filmed in Oregon. Many of the main scenes of the show were shot over the course of many hours, such as the briefing room scenes. According to the DVD commentary for season three, all morning briefing scenes for a season may be filmed on one 10-hour day with different basic plot elements to be used in different episodes. Actors would contribute their dialogue as they were inspired to do so.
The show was continued for two additional seasons with Comedy Central running a special of the show titled Reno 911!: Off Duty on March 21, 2004. The fourth season began on July 9, 2006, and comprised 14 episodes. Comedy Central aired the first seven in the fall of 2006 and the last seven in the spring of 2007. Also in early 2007, a theatrical film based upon the series entitled Reno 911!: Miami was released in North America, featuring the complete TV series cast. The Season Four spring debut drew 1.3 million viewers during the week of March 26 to April 1, 2007. Excess footage from season three was used in season four.
On October 9, 2006, Comedy Central confirmed 13 new episodes to make up Reno 911! Season Five, though the season actually contained 16 episodes. Production of Season Five started in January and wrapped up in April. Reno 911! Season Five premiered on January 16, 2008. On March 27, 2007, Superstation WGN acquired the first four seasons of the half-hour comedy for a two-year run. The syndicated Reno 911! is a part of their late night comedy block. Reruns are syndicated to broadcast stations. In 2007, Lennon and Garant later appeared in-character on a comedy compilation CD, Comedy Death-Ray, released on September 11, singing a song about why not to use drugs.
On November 10, 2008, Comedy Central confirmed 10 new episodes to make up Reno 911! Season Six, the final season. Principal photography was done between November and December 2008. Carmen Electra was a guest star on an episode filmed December 5, 2008 at Grant High School in Los Angeles. Season Six premiered on April 1, 2009, on Comedy Central. Season Six consisted of fifteen episodes. Cast members Carlos Alazraqui, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Mary Birdsong did not return for the final season and their characters' absence was explained as fatalities from an explosion in the Season Five finale. In addition, actors Ian Roberts and Joe Lo Truglio were added to the principal cast as Sergeant Jack Declan and Deputy Frank Salvatore Rizzo, respectively.
On August 13, 2009, Thomas Lennon announced through Twitter that the show had ended its six-year run. In response to the cancellation, residents and officials of Reno, Nevada petitioned to save the show.
In October 2011, a story broke that the producers of Reno 911! were in negotiations with the popular internet streaming website Netflix to revive the cancelled Comedy Central series. The main reason Reno 911!'s producers wanted to revive the show was because only 88 episodes were produced, and the producers and syndicating networks would have liked for the show to hit the 100 episode milestone. However, at the time, Comedy Central, who still held sole rights to the show, had not been involved in any negotiations. As well, Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant were attached to other projects.
It was announced on December 6, 2019 that the series would be revived in 2020 on the streaming platform Quibi. The revival will feature the return of the original series creators Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant and Kerri Kenney-Silver. In a statement, Lennon said: "Reno 911! holds a special place in our hearts, and it will be a delight to get the original cast back together for ‘re-boot goofin'. Hopefully Nick Swardson can still roller skate. Quibi’s short format seems custom made for our show.”
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||14||July 23, 2003||October 20, 2003|
|2||16||June 9, 2004||September 22, 2004|
|3||13||June 14, 2005||September 6, 2005|
|4||14||July 9, 2006||May 13, 2007|
|5||16||January 16, 2008||July 10, 2008|
|6||15||April 1, 2009||July 8, 2009|
Cast and charactersEdit
- Thomas Lennon, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Ben Garant, Joe Lo Truglio, frequent Reno 911! director Michael Patrick Jann and many of the frequent guest stars are members of The State, a comedy troupe who had a popular sketch series which aired for three seasons on MTV in the early 1990s.
- Lennon and Kenney-Silver were the stars of Viva Variety, a former Comedy Central series. Their co-star, Michael Ian Black, has appeared in several Reno 911! episodes. Garant was Viva Variety's head writer and co-creator; it was a spin-off of a sketch on The State.
- McLendon-Covey was a member of The Groundlings theater company, located in Los Angeles. She was dismissed from Reno 911! prior to the sixth season.
- Alazraqui is the voice of many cartoon characters, such as: Mr. Weed from Family Guy (1999–2001); Lazlo and Clam from Camp Lazlo; Rocko from Rocko's Modern Life; Winslow and Lube from CatDog; Monroe the enchanted dog from The Life and Times of Juniper Lee; the Taco Bell Chihuahua and, Denzel Crocker from The Fairly OddParents. He was the voice of Spyro the Dragon in that series' first installment. Alazraqui is also the voice of the Disney character Panchito, of The Three Caballeros and classic cartoon character Felix the Cat.
- Nash was the host of Clean House on the Style Network. She appeared in Cookie's Fortune, also as a cop.
- Yarbrough is the voice of Assistant District Attorney Tom DuBois and Col. Stinkmeaner in the cartoon version of The Boondocks and plays a prison guard in the film Meet the Fockers, and an army sergeant in an episode of Arrested Development. He also played pimp "Chocolate Giddyup" in the movie Black Dynamite.
- Birdsong worked on several Comedy Central programs prior to joining the cast of Reno 911! She appeared in programs such as The Daily Show; Crossballs; Contest Searchlight; and, Lewis Black's Root of All Evil. Before joining Reno 911! as a main cast member, Birdsong made a guest appearance in season 2 as Lisa, a Caucasian woman disguised as a Japanese masseuse. She won a Theatre World Award in 2007 for her Broadway debut with Martin Short in the musical "Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me!" She may have been dismissed from Reno 911! prior to season six.
- Season six newcomers Joe Lo Truglio and Ian Roberts were no strangers to Reno 911! Both had appeared as guest stars in past seasons, and both also appeared in Reno 911: Miami. As a member of The State, Lo Truglio is an old friend of the three creators and has worked with them on numerous projects. Roberts is a founding member of the popular Upright Citizens Brigade improv comedy troupe, who had their own Comedy Central sketch show from 1998 to 2000. Other remaining members of the troupe (Matt Besser and Matt Walsh) also appeared in recurring guest roles throughout the seasons. Amy Poehler is the only member of the "UCB 4" to have never appeared on the show in any form.
Throughout the show's run, all three main cast members from Stella (who were also from The State) made appearances as characters. While Michael Showalter was the exception on the TV series, he appeared in the film, along with all of the cast members of The State.
|"The State" Crossovers|
|Actor||On Reno 911!||On Reno 911: Miami|
|Thomas Lennon||Lt. Jim Dangle||Lt. Jim Dangle|
|Robert Ben Garant||Deputy Travis Junior||Deputy Travis Junior|
|Kerri Kenney-Silver||Deputy Trudy Wiegel||Deputy Trudy Wiegel|
|Michael Patrick Jann||Director||Tattoo Shop Owner #1|
|Joe Lo Truglio||Shopkeeper (1 episode)
Deputy Frank Rizzo (recurring)
|Tattoo Shop Owner #2|
Cadet Jared Reese
|Deaf Tattoo Artist|
|David Wain||Sensual Masseur
|Breen the Plumber|
|Michael Ian Black||Kevin the Sex Offender
|Ron of Ron's Tattoo|
|Kevin Allison||N/A||Tattoo Victim|
|Todd Holoubek||N/A||Tattooed Guy|
Main crew membersEdit
- Danny DeVito – executive producer
- Michael Shamberg – executive producer
- Stacey Sher – executive producer
- John Landgraf – executive producer
- Peter Principato – executive producer
- Paul Young – executive producer
- Robert Ben Garant – creator
- Kerri Kenney-Silver – creator
- Thomas Lennon – creator
- Michael Patrick Jann – director
The series spawned a film released in 2007. In the film, the deputies are called in to save the day after a terrorist attack disrupts a national police convention and locks over 2000 police officers in a hotel in Miami Beach during spring break.
In December 2017, Nash said another film is in the works.
|DVD title||Release date||No. of
|The Complete First Season||June 22, 2004||14||Alternate Scenes, Audio Commentary from the entire cast.|
|The Complete Second Season Uncensored||June 14, 2005||16||Over 90 minutes of Alternate/Deleted Scenes, director and Cast Commentary, Drug Arrest Prevention Seminar – Live Performance from HBO's 2004 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.|
|The Complete Third Season Uncensored||July 11, 2006||13||Deleted scenes, extended outtakes, and commentary with the cast and crew.|
|The Complete Fourth Season Uncensored||June 26, 2007||14||Alternate/Deleted scenes, extended outtakes, and commentary with the cast and crew.|
|The Complete Fifth Season Uncensored||July 15, 2008||16||Alternate/Deleted scenes, extended outtakes, Featurette: Cop Psychology Inside the Minds of Reno's deputies.|
|The Complete Sixth Season Uncensored||July 7, 2009||15||Alternate/Deleted scenes, extended outtakes, and commentary.|
|DVD Name||Release date||Additional information|
|Reno 911!: Miami||June 19, 2007||Audio Commentary, Alternate / Extended Scenes, Trailers, Easter Eggs, and the featurette "Making a Spoof."|
|Reno 911!: Miami: Unrated||June 19, 2007||Audio commentary, Alternate / Extended Scenes, Trailers, Easter Eggs, Public Service Announcements, and the featurette "World Premiere."|
|Reno 911!: Miami: More Busted Than Ever Unrated Edition||September 23, 2008||Intro to "The Lost Version", Audio commentary, Extended Scenes with optional commentary, Blooper Reel, Public Service Announcements, Theatrical Trailer, Easter Eggs.|
Best of Releases
|DVD Name||Release Date||Additional Information|
|Reno's Most Wanted Uncensored||February 13, 2007||A compilation of Reno 911!'s best scenes from the first four seasons.|
- Comedy Central. "Reno 911". Archived from the original on 2018-06-28. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
- The Sound of Young America: Interview with Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, and Kerri Kenney-Silver, May 22, 2008.
- Topel, Fred (2007). "One on One with Cedric Yarbrough". about.com. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
- Comedy Central Cancels "Reno", Hollywood Reporter, August 13, 2009
- Jayne Clark. "'Reno 911!': The city it mocks tries to save it," USA Today. August 27, 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
- Netflix looking to revive Reno 911!, "Afterdawn.com", October 9, 2011
- Netflix wants to Make New Episodes of Reno 911!, "Vulture.com"
- Paulsen, John (April 21, 2009), Cast changes have hurt "Reno 911!"
- Malkin, Marc. "'Reno 911!' Movie in the Works, Says Star Niecy Nash". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 December 2017.