Reno 911: The Zombie Comedy That Can’t Be Killed
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The hardworking men and women of the Reno Police Department are back. Again.
Like a comedy zombie that finds a way to pratfall forward no matter how many times you think it’s gasped its last punchline, the inept cops are back again, this time on the Roku Channel with Reno 911: Defunded.
Not that we’re complaining.
Reno 911!, more or less a parody of the nearly-as-funny Cops, originally ran for six seasons on Comedy Central. Between seasons, Reno’s finest squeezed in a feature film, 2007’s quasi-spring break edition Reno 911: Miami. But after the show’s cancelation in 2009, the odds of a return seemed smaller than Lt. Dangle’s shorts.
Cue the zombie music. Seemingly left for dead, the Reno gang has risen with a number of new projects over the last few years, including a season of shorts on the dearly departed Quibi, another feature film, Reno 911: The Hunt for QAnon on Paramount +, and now a streaming series on the Roku Channel.
Despite the channel hopping, the cops haven’t missed a beat. The new season features guest spots from George Lopez, Weird Al Yankovic (playing against type as firearms freak and Motor City madman Ted Nugent), and … Jamie Lee Curtis?
“She came to us to ask to come and play with us, and be on the show,” says Kerri (Trudy Weigel) Kenney-Silver.
“She told us in advance she wanted to be from another department, and she wanted to have shorts like Tom and an eyepatch,” adds Robert Ben (Travis Junior) Garant. “That was all we discussed, and then she just came and bossed us around for two hours. It was really fun.” The scenes are gloriously offensive in all the usual Reno ways, including Trudy confiding to Curtis’ character, Lt. Donna Fitzgibbons, that she tries to turn on everyone with her b-hole.
“It's like funny first, always funny first,” says Kenney-Silver. “If it isn't funny, we're not doing it.”
Could guest stars like Curtis be the secret zombie sauce that keep the show coming back? Over its Comedy Central run, the show featured comedy heavyweight guest stars like Paul Rudd, Patton Oswalt, Nick Swardson, Natasha Leggero, Keegan-Michael Key and even a hilarious turn (no, really!) by Carrot Top.
Or maybe it’s the expanded experiences of cast members in the years the show wasn’t in production. “Every single person in the cast has gone off and done things,” says Tom (Lt. Jim Dangle) Lennon. “Wendy does The Goldbergs, Cedric does The Goldbergs, Niecy’s on four shows at a time. Everyone went off and became the Avengers, they just honed their skills and came back.”
One counterintuitive notion is that the show offers a very human depiction of cops, even at a time when the police have come under fire in different parts of the country. "We always joked among ourselves that somehow Reno 911! appeals to tons of recreational drug users and law enforcement in equal parts," says Lennon.
"We were never a bunch of badass cops," he says. "If we kicked down doors, we'd get hurt, and then we just fall down through the door. And there's no one ever on the other side that we're looking for, you know? Many police officers say that we were the most accurate cop show on TV. And they weren't kidding when they said it to me."
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Top image: Comedy Central