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Deputy short shorts: Tom Lennon shows a lot of leg--and wit--on Comedy Central's hilarious Reno 911!

It's Deputy Wiegel's birthday, and her fellow officers have given her the gift that keeps on giving--a cheerily wrapped shotgun tied to a dozen balloons. Moments later the gun has slipped out of Wiegel's hands and is flying away across the Reno skyline while the rest of them debate whether to chase it or just pump it full of lead. This is Reno 911! the cop show where things like this just ... happen. All the time.

It's a cloudy day on the set of Reno, which is filmed at an actual active police station. "This season is a lot weirder," says Tom Lennon, one of the show's creators and the man behind the mustache of the fictional Lieutenant Dangle, the force's gay member. Then Lennon politely excuses himself to pull a bomb-sniffing robot's claw off of Deputy Jones's crotch.

Comedy Central's mockumentary series following the trials and tribulations of the nation's worst police force is currently in its second season, and it's about time too. We were starting to miss one the best improv shows on TV--not to mention the best gay character to ever wear nonregulation police shorts.

"I like playing a gay character who's not defined by being gay," says Lennon of Dangle, a guy he describes with a smile as "an incredibly macho high-desert gay cop." For Lennon, who's straight, it was a matter of creating a character who could keep with the campy concept of the show without being just a simple mockery. "I asked, 'How are cops going to react, and how are gay men going to react?'" he says. Both have fallen in love with Dangle and the show. Reno was even nominated for a GLAAD Media Award.

It's probably the shorts. "[Dangle] started with the outfit. I was dead set on shorts--really, really short shorts. And extremely tight," Lennon says. But the magic of Reno 911! isn't just about the shorts--it's about the comic talents of Lennon, Kerri Kenney, and Robert Ben Garant, alumni of the sketch comedy group the State and the masterminds behind Reno's cop concept.

Where else on TV will you find a gruff, gun-toting new hero who can take down a perp while still making sure his hair looks perfect? Tune in for an endless stream of surprises, including Dangle's, yes, wife. "Oh," adds Lennon, "and I think my highlights are a little bit better this year."

Lopez is a writer and producer for G4 Television.
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Title Annotation:television
Author:Lopez, Vincent
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Television Program Review
Date:Jul 6, 2004
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