Friday, February 23, 2007

When comedy throws a curve

My wife was out of town last night. Ol' Huss had nothing to do but sit in front of the TV.

But I wasn't content with the usual offerings on cable. Nope. So I made my way out of the apartment - a rarity for a day off - to do a little more TV shopping and find something to watch in the meantime.

(A quick note on the TV shopping: I think we've found our set. I was originally planning to hit only Target and Belmont TV; but I was so disappointed with the selection at those two places, I had to find somewhere else. Belmont had sets that either weren't good enough or way too good, no middle ground; Target had less than that. So I went to Myer Emco as well, and was very pleased with my shopping experience there. It came down to two LCD models - Samsung and Sony - that were both comparable. The picture was incredible, such that I'd be willing to trade down the size I'd get with DLP for a picture as beautiful as I saw on those two models. Anyway, on with it...)

After Myer Emco, I made a strategic trip to Best Buy to find a DVD or two or three. They did not disappoint, as I picked up the first three seasons of Reno 911! That show's a favorite of mine for its humor, which alternates between slapstick, edgy and unexpected. (You can find bite-size clips of it on IFilm.)

Most of the jokes are funny, some are laugh-out-loud funny and some are, well, predictable. But that doesn't lessen my enjoyment for a bit.

The characters fall into a strange mix of categories: a bisexual lieutenant in charge of the gang; a gorgeous knockout blonde who is far from ditzy; a short-haired brunette is borders on crazy; a racist Mexican; a tall black guy who alternates between suave and dorky; and a black woman who has a sweet heart but also isn't shy about making her opinions known.

Each, in one way or another, winds up as a punchline, whether it's because of other characters or the wacky situations they find themselves in. And that's what the show is: punchlines, tied together by a primary theme.

The blonde has been known to, uh, enjoy herself from time to time with the most forbidden of fruits. (Her reputation precedes her, due to the low-cut shirts she often wears.) In one episode, she finally gives in to the Mexican guy, who apparently had been trying to hook up with her for years. They go through a brief but emotional fling, culminating in the guy saying he'd had enough, giving back the crystal necklace she gave him at the beginning of the relationship.

This happens very publicly, amid colleagues at the bar for a post-shift beer. The guy stomps off, and the blonde turns back to her colleagues. She raises her arms in the air in apparent celebration, with a big smile, claiming she won and that the break-up was all a part of the plan.

Her bravado quickly ushers out the awkward moment, and all of her colleagues soon return to their pre-breakup discussion. The episode's almost over, so surely there's some sort of slam dunk coming - not one we can see, but the unexpected humor that is the hallmark of the series.

Instead, in the final shot, the camera captures her from the side as she turns and looks afar with an undeniably pained expression. Words don't really do it justice, but the moment was heartbreaking. Had the wild girl missed a chance to settle down and fall in love?

Just as quickly, the credits begin, and we're left to ponder all of this. Since the series isn't really continuous - more like the Simpsons, less like 24 in that what happened before isn't really predicated on what happens now - we're left with a sad picture of this poor woman's life.

After an orgy of Reno 911!, that's the moment that sticks with me. (Well, that and the episode-long attempt to catch a guy in a milkshake costume, only to be run over by a bus amid charges of police brutality.)

It feels like there should be more.


P.J. said...

l, at least you found something to enjoy! I never got into Reno 911, but I will say the movie looks kinda funny.

ME said...

I too have never seen an episode, but the previews for the movie crack me up. I might have to check some episodes out.