Quibi hasn’t exactly been the success story that it’s creators had hoped it would be, perhaps due to the pandemic but also possibly because the idea of a tv channel that’s only available on your phones and only produces very short episodes isn’t something that the world was exactly crying out for. Add to that a distinctly lacklustre launch schedule and it hasn’t come as a shock that it’s not the world’s favourite new thing, but there is at least one show worth checking out on it in the form of the return of Reno 911!
A Comedy Central series that originally ran between 2003 and 2009, it was a spoof of Cops style reality tv shows as the shockingly inept police officers of Reno mostly failed to solve crime and often may have been the cause of it too. It was a beautifully daft affair packed with memorable characters, including the show’s creators Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant and Kerri Kenney-Silver who all had extremely funny leading roles in it.
Now after a break of eleven years it’s back, and it’s largely a case of “It ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as the series carries on mostly as if he had never been off our screens. There’s a couple of changes, including some public announcements at the end of the episodes which vary in quality a fair bit, with one where Dangle informs us of the correct gender pronouns being a bit weak, but the rest are funny enough and an advert for job vacancies at the department is the most amusing.
They also make use of one of Quibi’s “special features” where you can occasionally press a button and sometimes see the scene from a different angle. This is nearly always used when a character is filming something themselves or watching something on a phone, for example in one scene new recruit Jeffy (Paul Walter Hauser) is watching a video and initially you can’t see it and only witness his reaction, but if you so choose you can check out what he was viewing with it being a tuition by Wiegel on how to get rid of unwanted pubic hair with a rat glue trap. It’s a largely pointless addition to the show to be honest, and the above example is the only time there’s a good reason to check it out.
Other than the above and shorter running time it’s business as usual however, and boy is it packed with the kind of lunacy you’ll have come to expect from the worst cops in Reno. The very best episode involves Wiegel hallucinating a visit from her dead serial killer husband and which comes with some worrying details about their relationship, but also superb is a storyline spread across two episodes where Dangle and co think it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world that they shoot a white guy to make up for all of the police shootings of black individuals.
Other inspired sequences see the female cops unable to tell the difference between sex toys and real toys (which comes with a fantastic song from Dangle at the end of it), Wiegel’s bizarrely flirtatious tale about a hamster eating itself is deranged but hilarious, and some of the biggest laughs come in an episode where they’re looking after a coke addled Bernie Sanders decoy, plus there’s also some great cameos from the likes of Patton Oswalt, Andy Daly and Ron Perlman with the latter’s appearance having a particularly strong pay off.
There is the odd misstep, the third episode covers a lavish funeral for a much loved community member which is a bit too farcical even for this show, and in episode seven there’s a storyline involving Jones and Johnson finding a sod load of money and planning to steal it which feels rather lazy. Occasionally there’s the odd slightly too predictable gag as well, like whenever they want to do anything nice for someone it inevitably backfires in a hail of bullets, and the series underuses Niecy Nash who’s present for some of the debriefing scenes but little more than that, she’s especially funny in a witness protection storyline in the second to last episode which only serves to accentuate how much she’s missed.
These are thankfully minor issues though and most of the time it’s enormous fun, everyone in the show now might be in or approaching their fifties but they slipped right back in to being these madcap idiots as if they hadn’t been away for a day. Whether or not we’ll ever see them again is open to question if only because Quibi is unlikely to be a success, but I truly hope that we do as this short comeback shows how much mileage is still left in these often odd but nearly always funny characters.
You can watch Reno 911! Season 7 on Quibi here.