21 Jump Street, Part I – Season 1, Episode 1

I’m bringing back the TV recaps and starting with 21 Jump Street.

I chose this show for several reasons:

A) I think it would do really well today. You get a guy like Rob Thomas (the creator of Veronica Mars, not the dude from Matchbox 20 who has a hi-larious cameo on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) to oversee the project, you hire a bunch of shiny-haired twentysomethings, you focus on issues plaguing today’s teens (sexting, cyber-bullying…) and you leave the theme song alone. I think you’ve got the perfect lead-in to Gossip Girl or The Vampire Diaries.

B) Jonah Hill’s writing a film adaptation, so the show is the teensiest bit relevant again. Apparently, Hill’s vision is Bad Boys meets John Hughes directed by Rob Zombie. Now, I’m not saying that sounds like a shit-show, but it sounds like a shit-show.

C) Old-School Johnny Depp.

D) The theme song. Holly Robinson sings it and both Peter DeLuise and Depp chime in with a couple of ‘Jump!’s. It’s awesome.

For those of you who were a mere twinkle in the milkman’s eye when the show premiered in 1987, let me give you a quick rundown — Baby-faced police officers go undercover in high schools and other teen hangouts to investigate criminal activity.

Everyone caught up? Alright ramblers, let’s get ramblin’.

The show opens in with an upper middle class family sitting down to dinner – smart-mouthed kids, a father who can barely conceal his disdain for them and a mother about six seconds away from upending a bottle of Stoli directly into her WASPy maw. Their suburban bliss is shattered (quite literally) when Jermaine Jackson smashes into the dining room, firearm and Muscle in tow.

OK, fine. It’s not really Jermaine Jackson, but dude has definitely been shopping in Michael Jackson’s closet, circa the Thriller video.

It turns out ‘No Color Cry Boy’ (also known as Kenny, the clarinet-playing son) owes Jermaine $6000. Of course, he doesn’t have the cash, so Jermaine shoots the television and steals the family Jaguar while Muscle threatens to rape the daughter. Ummm, holy shit. Why was I allowed to watch this as a child?

Hey! Kim Manners directed this episode. Manners directed episodes of The X-Files and Supernatural and his brother Kelly produced Dollhouse, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Kings of Anarchy. That actually fills me with optimism. OK, /TV Dorkery.

Cut to Officer Tom Hanson and his partner, Officer Morty Seinfeld (also known as Charlie).

Officer Seinfeld’s (I’m not calling him Charlie. He’s Jerry’s dad) a grizzled lifer who learned all he needed to know about police work on the streets. But Officer Hanson? A second generation cop who’s fresh out of the academy and the kind of guy who likes to, “roll in hot and kick tails.”  Yes. They actually said that.

A call comes in and they’re off to the suburban homestead from the opening scene.

Older daughter and hairspray addict Colleen makes eyes at Officer Hanson and asks if he’s old enough to be a cop because he looks just like that guy in Pretty in Pink. I’m assuming she means Duckie because Depp resembles neither Spader or McCarthy.

Since Officer Hanson graduated top in his Domestics class, he tries to connect with Kenny but no dice. Kenny won’t tell him ‘spit.’ At this point, I’m advocating Officer Seinfeld’s tack of taking the door off the hinges and beating the information out of this kid. He’s a little shitbag.

Officer Seinfeld’s cop Spidey Sense starts tingling and the duo start tailing a car that was involved in an armed robbery just moments before. Things quickly evolve into a car chase complete with hairpin turns and airborne vehicles.

Hanson covers the perps while Officer Seinfeld goes to call back-up.

But he’s a rookie and has no clue what he’s doing, so the robbers clobber him, steal the cop car and Hanson winds up accidentally breaking his partner’s nose.

Best line of the episode is courtesy of a perp who tells Officer Seinfeld, “Keep him away from me, huh? I feel like a child molester.”

Hanson’s antics mean a date with the chief who tells him about an undercover program called Jump Street Chapel — a unit that operates out of an abandoned chapel. Hanson dismisses this gig as, “Fast Times at Bust Your Buddy High” and says he’s not interested because he hated high school the first time around. Chief gives him two options — Jump Street or desk work until he looks old enough to be a cop.

He thinks over this big decision by reminiscing about his deceased father and playing really lousy smooth jazz.

They couldn’t give the guy a guitar? I know it’s cliche, but Depp actually plays the guitar and it would lead to a much better musical interlude than the Kenny G-inspired dreck they went with.

Hat and baton in tow, Hanson shows up at Jump Street Chapel to check it out. The aesthetic is dorm room meets The Shield’s Barn complete with sliding fireman’s pole.

Cue Officer Doug Penhall (Peter DeLuise) and Officer H.T. Ioki (Dustin Nguyen).

H is for Harry, T is for Truman. HT is named after the guy who, “dropped an atom bomb on his house” but I’m pretty sure that A)  HT is Vietnamese B) Truman died before Saigon fell and C) The United States never dropped any A-bombs in ‘Nam. History fail, guys.

Hanson also meets his boss, Captain Jenko – a dude who looks and acts like a hippie burnout.

He’s got posters of Hendrix on his wall and a dartboard emblazoned with the face of Nixon. Despite his behavior, Jenko is well aware of who’s running things and his mission is to nip teen crime in the bud so that bad teens don’t grow up to be bad adults.

This man is going to teach Hanson to be a teenager again and Officer Judy Hoffs (Holly Robinson Peete) is going to assist him.

She and Lisa Turtle would have a lot to talk about.

Second best line of the episode happens when Hanson tries to engage Hoffs in some overtly complicated handshake. Her response? “That’s OK, honey. My people don’t do that anymore.” Womp womp.

Depp gets an 80s style makeover in which he looks remarkably like his character from Cry Baby. So, lesson learned – if you want to look cool in the 80s, dress like they did in the 50s. And use ungodly amounts of mousse.

See? Samesies!

The Jump Street gang sets up a dry-run for Hanson — he’ll be playing Penhall’s cousin who’s been around the block and is looking to buy. They don’t want to bust the guy yet; they just want to make sure he’s holding.

He wants to buy a ‘lid.’ I have no idea what the hell that means and apparently, neither does Jace the dealer because he pulls out a gun and accuses Hanson of being a cop.

And they say street pharmacists are stupid.

Luckily, Hanson’s baby face saves his ass. The dealer’s ass, though? Not so much. Hanson beats Jace down. Let me reiterate for those in the cheap hates — Tom Hanson hates it when people comment on how young he looks. Hulk smash!

Despite the fact that this wasn’t supposed to be a bust, Hanson arrests the guy for threatening to kill a cop and for selling him….a pair of socks. Hanson’s inexperience and hair-trigger temper botches the entire operation. Good job, guy.

Remember Kenny? The suburbanite shitbag from the opening scene? Dude goes on a jewelry store smash and grab and flees. On a scooter. I’m sure this will come back later.

Jenko is handing out assignments and Hanson will be getting his feet wet at Amherst High as Tom Bauer,  a disciplinary transfer from Wilcox with a drug problem and a bad attitude.

‘His first encounter at the school is with our buddy Jermaine, the home-invading, television-shooting car thief from the show’s opening. Hanson parks in Jermaine’s spot and a rumble ensues — Jermaine kicks Hanson’s mustang and demands Hanson move the car. He retaliates by scratching the word ‘No’ into Jermaine’s car.

‘Tom and Jermaine are sent off to Coach Shaeffer’s office to be disciplined. Shaeffer uses entirely too many sports metaphors and we learn the following about Jermaine — his real name’s Tyrell, he drives a Ferrari and fighting is a violation of his parole.

As for Hanson, he and his father have a date with Shaeffer the following date. I’m assuming Jenko is going to filling those shoes.

Wouldn’t you know it — Hanson’s locker is three away from Shitbag Suburbanite Kenny. The episode ends with Jermaine (look, I’m not calling him Tyrell) telling Hanson, “You’re gonna like it here at Amherst, boy. Especially if you like dying.”

An undeniably idiotic statement, but you know what? I’m in like Flynn.

I want to find out what happens and I want to see how Hanson’s straight-and-narrow persona interacts with Penhall’s dumb labrador goofiness and Hoffs’ sass. I want to see what kind of situations the Jump Streeters get embroiled in and I really want to see what happens when Richard Grieco joins the cast as Officer Booker.

So yeah — in like Flynn. Expect a recap of the second part of this two-parter pilot soon.

Oh and if you’ve stuck around this long — kudos. You have certainly earned this:

“You’re gonna learn something when we meet you after school!” Love that!

5 thoughts on “21 Jump Street, Part I – Season 1, Episode 1

  1. “I want to find out what happens and I want to see how Hanson’s straight-and-narrow persona interacts with Penhall’s dumb labrador goofiness and Hoffs’ sass. I want to see what kind of situations the Jump Streeters get embroiled in and I really want to see what happens when Richard Grieco joins the cast as Officer Booker.”

    By the time Richard Grieco enters the show (season 3 premiere) the mood of the show has changed completely since its first season. In the second and third season, it definitely still has its enjoyably funny (and campy) moments, but it gets far more serious and there are much less “PSA” like episodes.

    Its a good show. I have it on DVD 🙂

  2. Pingback: 21 Jump Street, Part II – Season 1, Episode 2 « Too Sweet For Rock & Roll

  3. Was it in the pilot where Jenko tells Hanson the guy on the poster is Jimi Hendrix, Hanson asks who Hendrix played with, Jenko thinks for a few seconds and replies, God.

    I thought that was a cool line.

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