Revisiting The 21 Jump Street Pilot, Part One

As the world prepares for the upcoming 21 Jump Street movie, I thought I'd revisit the groundbreaking series that started it all. Sometimes watching something you loved in childhood can completely ruin the memory. I have a feeling it's still going to be awesome. So let's do this.

Fade in on a lovely middle class white family having dinner. It's all there: father in a suit and tie, the ditsy daughter, the good china. BLAMOW! Two young black guys bust in through the window dressed like extras from the Captain EO tour.

Mother screams in horror. Her real estate agent told her this was a safe neighborhood!

By the way, Kenny is played by some guy you would totally recognize. In fact, he played Cameron in the Ferris Bueller TV show! I hate that I have this savant ability to recognize any actor.

Well, it turns out Kenny owes these thugs six grand. The thugs take the father's Jag. The jaunty synth music tells us something's a-brewing. Kenny begs his dad not to call the police in a scene straight from his audition for junior drama camp.

Cut to: diner. A young cop and an old cop are chatting away. It's the young cop's first day on the beat. He's looking for some action! He wants to shoot some bad (black) guys! Old Cop Who's Seen Everything just wants to make it a few more months to his retirement. The young guy is, of course, Tommy "Baby Face" Hanson, trying to prove himself because his father was a cop.

And dayum, Johnny Depp is a looker. Skin smooth as a baby's bum. Cheekbones that defy the laws of skeletal structure. They get a call and old guy guns the car, causing Tommy to spill his coffee all over himself. See, he's clumsy... FORESHADOWING?

Turns out the call was for the brouhaha at Kenny's house. They question the fam. Ditzy sister is getting her push-up pink sweatpants in a knot over Hanson. She wonders if he's old enough to be a cop, Hanson ignores it. He gets it all the time, see? Now he does look young, but he looks like he could be 22 or 23. So really people, get over it.

Mother serves the cops some coffee. "We don't let Clint Eastwood here have coffee after ten o'clock," Old Cop jokes. My god. This will be just one of the many jokes we will hear about Hanson? They ask if Kenny may have known the guys or was involved with them before. Hanson asks if Kenny was a good student.

Suddenly Kenny is bratting out at the top of the stairs. "Except when you flunk gym and don't get to go to the Eurythmics concert!" he orates with an Emmy Award at the back of his mind. Hanson thinks its best that he talk to Kenny. Because they can connect. Because Hanson is so... young. Catching the theme here? Also, how could you resist this face?

Hanson tells Kenny, "It's not against the law to be afraid." But what if the thugs come back? I doubt that will happen.... Old Cop commends Hanson on the way out of the house. And then they do their comedy routine. "Why don't you drive," Old Cop says, "but watch the potholes. I have hemorrhoids." "You know," says Hanson, "maybe your old lady should put you to sleep!" Wait for it... "She does put me to sleep! That's what makes the marriage work." Oh god. Remember the eighties? When our standards for comedy were so low?

Cut to: across town, where a black man (of course) is holding up a convenience store. Goddammit! The black folks of this town are out of control! Riding home, Hanson and Old Cop Who's Seen It All And Is Jaded stop the guys who just held up the store, and stop them because they look suspicious. They freak and start speeding away, and OH IT IS ON! Hot cop pursuit. Hanson of course hits all the potholes, Old Cop whines about his hemerroids. They catch up and Hanson fucks it up, letting the guys get away in the cop car and also letting one punch Old Cop.

The next day Hanson goes into headquarters and the whole force is giving him a hard time about his blunder. Hanson scowls at them, but it is too pretty to be taken seriously. Captain Guy gives Hanson a new assignment: an undercover unit called "Jump Street Chapel." It's super secret and super special, the mayor's baby. They take the youngest looking cops, teach them how to be teens, and send them undercover in the schools... AND THUS PRODUCED THE GREATEST TV SERIES PLOT EVER.

"Kinda like 'Bust Your Buddy High?' No thanks," pouts Hanson. Apparently Hanson hated high school because he was a tool back then (and kind of now). Well, Hanson has no choice, and we know this series goes on for five season, so of course he takes it. He wants to make Daddy proud.

Hanson goes home to be all emo, look at pics of him and his Dad together, and WAIL ON A SAXOPHONE. Yup, that happens. His idea of fake playing is to put his mouth on it and move his eyebrows weird.

"Now I'm lost inside in the walls in my empty heart" sings the soundtrack as Hanson pulls up to the Chapel on Jump Street. He walks into the seemingly empty chapel and then some burly wiseguy yells, "Hey everyone, out the back doors! It's the cops!" It's Doug Penhall, future father of my children, and in the first five seconds of screen time manages to insult Jews and Asians. He introduces Ioki, who "thinks this is a Buddhist Temple" and that he (Penhall) is half Jewish, so he thinks it's a synagogue. I can forgive him because he's both husky and sassy, two things that do it for me. Ioki, played by the annoying Dustin Nguyen, is wearing a blue silk shirt, suspenders, a bolo tie, and a shellacked wave of hair. He has the nerve to tell Hanson that his hair looks stupid. Hanson asks where Captain Jenko is.

So dreamy!

Cue some aged hippie to slide down a pole, say "man" and "groovy" a lot, suck on a toothpick, have a pic of Jim Morrison on the back of his leather jacket, and act as if he was just upstairs having a nosh of quaaludes and mushrooms. Hanson, having no patience for this, asks if the Captain is there, and Jenko answers "yes" but then goes on a diatribe about the Grateful Dead. See what they did here? Hanson can't believe that this cool-rocking free spirit could POSSIBLY be the police captain of the unit. Well Tommy, THIS IS NO ORDINARY POLICE ASSIGNMENT. When he finds out that Captain Jenko is who he is talking to, he does the world's best double take.

Jenks takes him back to his office, which includes, among other things, a poster of Jimi Hendrix, a lava lamp, a dartboard with Nixon's face, a keyboard, and a fridge full of cheap beer. In case the audience didn't get it the first time, they were dickslapped in the face with the idea: Captain Jenko is NO ORDINARY POLICE CAPTAIN. Jenko tells a (prettily) pouting Hanson to start acting like a teenager: pizza, potato chips, no black coffee. See, Jenko likes to catch the crooks as teens to prevent adult felons. I guess the pot makes him too lazy to go after the adult bad guys.

Hanson needs to get up to speed on the training of how to be a "badass" teen, so he calls for Hoffs. Hoffs is of course the luminous Holly Robinson, who comes in and strikes a pose against the desk. She is wearing a denim jacket with so many brooches in it I am surprised she's not bleeding under it. WANT THAT JACKET!

While I have a boner over her outfit, Hansen has a fo' real boner. He licks his chops at the sight of her and has this reaction:

Of course, Hoffs being the girl cop, is in charge of Hanson's new look. She introduces herself as Judy Hoffs, and Hanson tries to give her some sort of gangsta handshake and Hoffs drawls, "Oh honey, that's OK, my people don't do that anymore." See? Once in awhile this show is funny, like funny funny, not funny bad.

CUE THE MONTAGE! Hoffs makes Hanson try on various leather jackets, commanding him to turn around so she can check out his ass. Thatta girl, Hoffs. He gets a pompadour haircut and with that and the leather jacket, he is basically his character from Cry-Baby. They play arcade games, eat hot dogs, check out LPs, and then Hoffs pulls out one of her earrings to give to Hanson. Ew! Clean that with rubbing alcohol first!

Cut to some punk club where some Sid Vicious wannabes are hanging out, and there is Penhall, standing awkwardly by himself looking like someone's creepy thirtysomething uncle and definitely not a teenager. Jenko pulls up in his sixties-era van to bait some burnout guy into talking shit to him. Hoffs and Hanson are in the van so they can ID the guy as a notorious drug dealer. Hanson goes back to make the buy, with Jenko yelling "Don't bust him!" because this is just practice for Hanson to see if he can pass. Ugh, I'm no cop, but wouldn't they have to arrest him if the transaction goes through?

The dealer pulls a gun on Hanson, because Hansen asked for a "lid" and apparently that's an old-fashioned way to ask for drugs. Hanspn is playing it cool until dealer makes a crack about Hanson looking young. That's like calling Marty McFly chicken! Hanson arrests him, and the gang shows up and Jenko is having a shit fit because the drugs turned out to be a pair of socks in a baggie. And Hanson couldn't tell that? Well, if they had spent more time training him on illegal substances and not arcade games and hair mousse, this may not have happened. If I lived in this city (where the hell does this take place anyway?), I'd be pissed that my tax dollars were going to this program. Hoffs and Ioki look at Hanson with disgust and shame. Hanson punches the wall.

Cut to: early morning, Kenny is doing his paper route on a Vespa in the downtown area. And then breaks the window of a jewelry store and grabs all the stuff in the display case. Cut back to the parking lot of the Chapel, and Ioki and Penhall are working under the hood of Hoffs's lime green sports car, while she sits in the front seat. I mean, she's just a girl, after all. Hanson wiggles his finger somewhere near something and the car starts, thus gaining cred with the group.

Ioki loves a good bolo tie.

Team meeting! Hoffs is undercover at a high school and she got an A on her book report. Jenko points out that honor roll students don't get close to the felons of the school. Wait a minute, that's an issue with the concept I didn't think about until now: they also have to do all the homework and take exams while they are undercover? That really really sucks. I hope they get overtime hours. Hanson gets assigned Elmhurt high school, where nothing major is going on. Again, tax dollars well spent.

Scene: at Elmhurt, teenagers milling around, standing up in convertibles (will Hanson bust them for not wearing seat belts?), making out, frolicking. Man, I am so glad I am not in high school anymore. Tommy pulls up in his sports car and who should pull up behind him, but the black thugs (and the only black kids in the school, as far as I can tell) from the beginning of the episode. Hanson parked in their spot (does the school assign parking spots by race? I wouldn't be surprised) but refuses to move. As the rest of the white kids gather 'round, Hanson and Thug #1 begin to fight in that rolling on the ground, pulling at jackets, non-real fighting sort of way. Some over-worked nerdy math teacher comes over to break it up. He asks Tyrell (good, he has a name) and Hanson who started it but neither answers.

At the principal's office. The principal threatens Tyrell, saying he has to notify his police offer. Tyrell gets in his face, and then leaves, eye-balling him the entire way out. The principal demands Tom bring his father to school night the next night. Out in the hallway, Hanson sees Kenny, who yells at him to leave him alone. Tyrell comes up behind Hansen and tells him he's "gonna like Elmhurt, if he likes dying." Hanson licks his lips and tries to hypnotize Tyrell with his cheekbones with no success. TO BE CONTINUED.

The end credits for this show totally confuse me. There is a disembodied hand opening and turning the pages of a high school yearbook. But the camera is too far away to actually see any of it. And what high school is it anyway?

I'm so confused. Hold me, Penhall.


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