The Series Philosopher

Philosophising about the 'S'-word: Watch… and learn

Reno 911!

the-series-philosopher-Reno911-logoReno 911! is an American comedy television series on Comedy Central that ran 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, and with minimal scripted material. The series spawned a film, Reno 911!: Miami, featuring the same cast. Thomas Lennon (The Odd Couple, Another Period), Robert Ben Garant and Kerri Kenney-Silver all starred in and are billed as creators of the series.

Premise

The show is a direct satire of the iconic Fox Television 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. 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 very 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 persons, 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 even attempt to get arrested just to be on TV.

Cast and characters

Main characters

Lieutenant James “Jim” Ronald Dangle (played by Thomas Lennon) is the highest-ranking deputy in the department and is usually seen wearing his trademark short-shorts, which he claims that he wears for “mobility.”

Deputy Trudy Wiegel (played by Kerri Kenney-Silver) is a brain-damaged, emotionally unstable, heavily-medicated woman. She is a hypochondriac with multiple psychological disorders, occasional night terrors, and suicidal ideations. She is a generally neurotic person with low self-esteem and an intense love for cats. She claims to be of Irish and Native American descent.

Deputy Sergeant Class II Sven Jones (played by Cedric Yarbrough) is an emotionally detached “smooth-talker” who frequently channels his need for attention into sexually promiscuous behavior. He is often called “Jonesy” by his co-workers.

Deputy Sergeant Class III James Oswaldo Garcia (Season 1-Season 5; played by Carlos Alazraqui) is an arrogant, racist, sexist, angry and depressed former Marine helicopter pilot. A running gag involves Garcia firing shots at people or objects without hitting them due to his comically terrible marksmanship, and giving suspects “a little of the old stick time”, in which he beats them with his billy club. Garcia is the first character shown in the series, in which he responds to a police call at a house.

Deputy Sergeant Class I Clementine “Clemmy” Johnson (Season 1-Season 5; played by Wendi McLendon-Covey) is a promiscuous, trashy, drug-friendly blonde who always wears her uniform partially unbuttoned, exposing her ample cleavage.

Deputy Raineesha Williams (born Megan Linderman; played by Niecy Nash) is a boisterous woman who enjoys abusing the power over men that her police authority affords her.

Deputy Travis Junior (played by Robert Ben Garant) is a stereotypical redneck cop who loves beer, cigarettes, NASCAR, guns, Lynyrd Skynyrd and—perhaps most of all—his moustache, which he confesses he feels makes him look gay when standing next to Lt. Dangle. His character provides much of the physical comedy for the show, performing most of the major stunts.

Deputy Cherisha Kimball (Season 3-Season 5; played by Mary Birdsong) is a pious, tough, no-nonsense police officer, the polar opposite of Deputy Johnson. Kimball is absent in Season 6, as she was killed in the explosion at the end of the fifth-season finale.

Sergeant Jack Declan (Season 6; played by Ian Roberts) joined the show in Season 6. He is the new second in command after Lt. Dangle, to whom Declan is often seen sucking up; with the exception being in Season 6 when Department office assistant and barely fluent Cindy promotes everyone on the squad to captain ignorantly, and Declan tells Dangle to “suck my dick”.

Deputy Frank Salvatore Rizzo (Season 6; played by Joe Lo Truglio) joined the show in Season 6. He is from Ozone Park, Queens (where Lo Truglio himself was born), where he has been banned from for undisclosed “reasons that [he takes] full responsibility for”.

Cindy the Sex Slave (played by Wanru Tseng): Freed from bondage by the Reno deputies—she was found stuffed into a suitcase—Cindy has nowhere to go, so she is given a job as a secretary at the Sheriff’s Department. She is frequently corrected by the deputies for clerical errors and occasionally falling back into her sex worker habits.

Guest characters

Reno 911! features many other notable comedians, some of whom appear on the show multiple times. In addition, the principal cast members frequently play recurring roles of criminals or otherwise dysfunctional characters (with pixelated or blurred faces).

  • Agent Steve Hardcastle (Ian Roberts): An FBI agent who arrives in Reno to help the department locate the Lieutenant Governor’s brother, Ray Mendoza.
  • Andrew (Jim Rash): A homeowner/brothel patron/purveyor-of-pleasure whose activities require regular police intervention.
  • Bachelorette Party Women: A group of raucous young women who conduct wild bachelorette parties and attempt to lure in male cops to strip for them.
  • Big Mike (Toby Huss): The resident Reno meth-head and “Captain of Suspicious Behavior.”
  • Boozehammer of Galen (Patton Oswalt): A fantasy role-playing game geek who often badly hurts his opponents while playing fantasy games.
  • Brad the Friendly Homeowner (Andrew Daly): A genial householder who is always excited to visit with the Sheriffs.
  • Bunny Hernandez (Natasha Leggero): Mayor Hernandez’s wife, a former porn actress and exotic dancer.
  • Calvin Robin Tomlinson (Rainn Wilson): A convicted serial killer who is given a deal to avoid the death penalty if he leads the deputies to the burial site of one of his victims.
  • Carmen (Sarah Tiana): A young female with a speech impediment who calls the department “a few times a week.”
  • Carrot Top (Himself): A comedian who trashes his hotel room, throwing the furniture out the window and into the pool several stories below.
  • Chief Carl (Carlos Alazraqui): A homeless Native American man who is caught selling illegal fireworks, and summons the police when he is caught at a carnival illegally selling popcorn on a stick.
  • Citizens’ Patrolman Rick (Paul Reubens): First seen in Season 4, he is a member of the “Citizens’ Patrol” (which seems to be inspired by the Guardian Angels) and shows up at crime scenes and notices critical things that the deputies have missed.
  • Inspector Martin Smiley (Tom Bolster): A British police constable who visits Reno, Nevada as part of the “Badges Across the Water” foreign exchange program.
  • Craig Pullin (Kyle Dunnigan): Dep. Trudy Wiegel’s boyfriend, then husband, in Seasons 1-3. While both he and Wiegel appear to be shy, socially awkward people, their sex life includes sexual role-playing and fetishism.
  • Debbie (Rachael Harris): Lt. Dangle’s ex-wife, who seems to be attracted solely to gay men.
  • “Delicious Milkshake Man” (real name: Andrew Freeman) (Nat Faxon): A young man who wears a large milkshake costume to promote a local restaurant.
  • “Dominatrix” (Debra Wilson): She appeared during Season 5, including a visit responding to complaints from “the kettle-corn people” about explicitly-worded ad flyers she had distributed at the Farmer’s Market.
  • The Drunk-Driving Pilot (Ron White): A drunken airline pilot whom Deputy Johnson lets off with a warning after he flatters her.
  • Eddie “Fast Eddie” McLintock (unseen, voiced by Jeff Foxworthy): A famed drug runner and recidivist speeder who has been involved in multiple high-speed car chases with the Reno Sheriff’s Department.
  • Firefighters of the Reno Fire Department (Mitch Rouse, Guy Stevenson): Unlike the Reno Sheriff’s Department, the members of the Reno Fire Department are competent, popular, and well-respected, inspiring tremendous envy, bitterness, inadequacy—and secret admiration—from the cops.
  • French mime (Robert Ben Garant): A man in mime costume and makeup who is reported for harassing customers outside a strip mall. To Jones’ delight, he performs a silent parody of Garcia—who becomes enraged and assaults, then arrests him.
  • The Fraudulent Manager of Burger Cousin (Seth Green): A petty, browbeating robber who poses as the manager of a fast-food restaurant at which Jones and Garcia have gone undercover as employees to catch a robber whom they don’t realize is already there.
  • Frisbee McDaniels (Zach Galifianakis): A “white trash” resident of Reno who squats with his sizable family in an abandoned school bus.
  • Glen the Ranger (Matt Walsh): A park ranger at a fictional (though often referenced to be near the Donner Party cabin) National Park.
  • Gigg LeCarp (Los Angeles radio DJ Brian Phelps): A petty-criminal-turned-televangelist who, 10 years ago, was arrested by then-partners, Dangle and Garcia.
  • Guy Gerricault (Paul Rudd): Wiegel’s creepily enthusiastic, inappropriately hands-on Lamaze teacher.
  • Handicapped cop (David Wain): A supposedly handicapped cop with whom Wiegel spends a day with as part of a public-assistance program.
  • Jackie DeMartino (Kerri Kenney-Silver): A drug-addicted prostitute with herpes, AIDS, Lupus, and lung cancer, whose face is always blurred out. She is known for spitting picklejuice at the officers.
  • Jerry Salerno (Dan Castellaneta): The violent, possibly mobbed-up “Washoe County Animal Carcass Removal Commissioner.”
  • Joe the Cameraman (Joe Kessler): The usually-unseen cameraman who documents the Reno Sheriff’s Department’s activities.
  • Junior the Third (DeRay Davis): A delusional homeless man, who was once seen sitting on a couch on the sidewalk pretending to interview Morgan Freeman as on a talk show.
  • Kenny Rogers (Himself): A famous American country music singer and actor with whom Dep. Garcia is obsessed to the point of having recurring dreams about him, one of which featured Kenny waking up in bed next to Lt. Dangle.
  • Kevin (Michael Ian Black). A convicted sex offender who moves to Reno and attempts to ask Johnson out while he and she informs his neighbors of his crimes.
  • Ku Klux Klan (Reno Chapter of). A group of presumed bigots who ostensibly try to end bigotry and racism by burning lowercase t’s (“for tolerance”) and opening a lemonade stand with a sign reading “FREE LEMONADE FOR NIGGERS.”
  • Trailer-Park Lady (Cheryl Hines): A trailer-park resident who tries to get her neighbor arrested for crossing over the property line, which consists of two cigarette butts and a green rock.
  • Leslie Frost (Dave Holmes): Dangle’s ex-wife Debbie’s second husband, owner of “Buy-Curios,” a knickknack/antique store frequented by Dangle and Garcia.
  • Maria Storm (Lisa LoCicero): A local TV reporter who has extensively covered the Reno Sheriff’s Department. She is frequently hit upon by her male interviewees. Actress Lisa LoCicero is married to show director Michael Patrick Jann.
  • Mayor Hernandez (George Lopez): Reno’s thoroughly-corrupt, philandering mayor. He is perpetually under investigation, but counts on the Reno Sheriff’s Department to clean up his messes.
  • Mike Powers (Mather Zickel): The former Washoe County district attorney, responsible for firing and later jailing the entire Reno Sheriff’s Department at the end of Season 2.
  • Mrs. Leonard (Mindy Sterling): An apartment resident who calls 911 5-6 times a week. One time she reports that children, particularly a fat boy called Joey, are disturbing her 2-3PM nap by bouncing balls, playing marbles, and talking about homework, loudly in the hallway.
  • Naked Armenian (J. P. Manoux): A naked Armenian man who walks around outside yelling to himself while high on Ecstasy.
  • Pageant Mom and Dad (Jamie Denbo), (John Ross Bowie): A domineering couple who are obsessed with winning their daughter’s little-girl beauty pageants, to the extent of painting her with printer toner (the mother states that the father works at “a computer store” frequently and doesn’t know anything about pageants), whitening her lips like a blackface minstrel to win the ‘Little Miss Nubian’ pageant (which Deputy Williams’ daughter won a couple years prior), or attempting to illegally buy Trudy’s baby (a boy).
  • Pinky the Drunk Driver (Chelsea Handler): A belligerent drunk driver who claims she has not been drinking.
  • Principal Manderville (Kristina Hayes): A local elementary-school principal who usually makes an announcement to the students before the Reno deputies begin their “safety assembly.”
  • “Reading Ron” (Brian Unger): A children’s TV host with a checkered past who attempts to profile the Reno Sheriff’s Department on his television show, with results that are disastrously inappropriate for children’s television. He is later forced into rehab after a drug relapse, but retains his job.
  • Roadie (David Koechner): A roadie at Steely Dan, Ted Nugent, and Motörhead concerts.
  • Seeeeemji (Christina Applegate): Terry Bernadino’s girlfriend, whom the deputies are very surprised to learn is real. The “j” is silent.
  • Sergeant Clift (Ryan Stiles): A consultant that the L.A.P.D. sends over to help the deputies improve their undercover work because, as Dangle says, “They can smell that we’re pigs from a mile away.” Clift puts the deputies through acting exercises that backfire horribly when put into practice.
  • Sheriff Walter Chechekevitch (Tracey Walter): The deputies’ aloof, clueless boss who died after eating a candy bar because he was allergic to the peanuts it contained.
  • “Spanish Mike” Alverez a.k.a. “Captain Duane Hernandez” (Oscar Nunez); and Sammy Heung a.k.a. Lt. Suzy Kim (Cathy Shim): “Hernandez” and “Kim” are criminals who pose as Department of Homeland Security agents to get their hands on the Reno Sheriff’s Department’s money and evidence in the two-part episode “Terrorist Training”.
  • Steed Lankershim (Timothy Brennen): Johnson’s criminal boyfriend, a repeat felon and drug user.
  • Steve Marmella (Jack Plotnick): A sexual pervert who specializes in exposing himself and tricking others into inappropriate sexual contact. As of Season 5 he is under house arrest, which does surprisingly little to deter his activities.
  • Deputy Patrick Bates (Jack Plotnick): A once-promising new recruit whom Dangle accidentally shot in the head on his first day, rendering him mentally-challenged and wheelchair-bound.
  • Stevie (Brian Posehn): The Reno medical examiner and coroner.
  • Student Driver (Simon Helberg): In episode S02E10, Garcia and Jones pull him over during his driving test.
  • Theoretical Criminal (Keegan-Michael Key): A criminal with a lisp who frequently calls the Reno Sheriff’s Department to report crimes he claims he did not commit, or to show the deputies illegal items he has “found.”
  • T. T. (played by Niecy Nash): A braless, hysterical woman with pronounced buck teeth and a unibrow (visible even though her face is always pixelated).
  • Terry Bernadino, a.k.a. Terry Jaspermans (Nick Swardson): A gay, drug-addicted prostitute and compulsive liar who always wears rollerskates and bedazzled women’s clothing.
  • Tommy Hawk (Diedrich Bader): An egotistical bounty hunter and reality-television star who is after many of the same fugitives that the deputies are pursuing. He is a parody of Dog the Bounty Hunter ‘s Duane “Dog” Chapman.
  • Unnamed Chinese boy (Kit DeZolt): A poor Chinese boy who drives a rickshaw.
  • Unnamed couple (Charlie Day and Mary Elizabeth Ellis): An incestuous “white trash” couple who call the police over a domestic dispute where he is threatening to rip the head off her (plastic “squeaky”) baby. Day and Ellis are married in real life.
  • Unnamed Armed Naked Guy at the VFW (Steve Little): An apparently high man with white powder under his nose who is regularly seen naked and holding a gun while make nonsensical statements.
  • Unnamed middle-aged insane woman (Wendi McLendon-Covey): Seen pantless, dragging a water heater through the streets.
  • Unnamed drunk pantless hooker (played by Natasha Leggero): Fights with Dangle and Kimball about putting her clothes on and tries to evade arrest.
  • Unnamed redneck (played by Robert Ben Garant): A local redneck, usually seen with his pants down and his penis in an inappropriate object (such as a pumpkin or a birdhouse). His only line is an enthusiastic “Woo!” right before running away.
Others
  • Danny DeVito as himself (Season 2)
  • Lisa Lampanelli as the minister at Dangle’s gay wedding (Season 4)
  • Jill-Michele Meleán (Season 3 as Maria, Dep. Garcia’s Sister and Season 6 as Mayor Hernandez’s girlfriend)
  • Chino XL (Season 2)
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