written by chase bridges
If you over hear someone talking about 21 Jump Street now a days, you would assume that they were talking about the action comedy film starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. And while we here at Exciting Incident enjoy that movie, as well as the sequel 22 Jump Street, we want to highlight the source material.
21 Jump Street was a crime drama that aired from 1987 to 1991. The show centered around a group of baby-faced cops who went undercover in local high schools solving crimes. The show gained tons of popularity due to its tackling of real life issues, and of course jump-started the career of Johnny Depp.
Depp played the lead, Tom Hanson. A young cop with anger issues after the death of his father turns him into the hardest working cadet at the academy. Along with Sergeant Hoffs (played by Holly Robinson), Officer Penhall (played by Peter DeLuise), Sergeant Ioki (played by Dustin Nguyen), and being led by Captain Adam Fuller (played by Steven Williams), the team went on to a five season run before eventually being cancelled.
The first half of season one, did not age well watching it back in 2020. However, the second half of the season has a huge increase in the writing which causes the show to become the classic that it is. Getting to watch Johnny Depp take on different under cover identities in the effort of catching the bad guy is extremely fun, and really shows how great of an actor he was and still is.
The show did something that a lot of current shows often fail to do. Which is slowly but genuinely build a bond and relationship between each of the characters, making the audience truly care about the stories as they unfold.
The brother like bond between Tom Hanson and his partner Penhall has you so invested in them, that when something happens to them, you really care. Same goes with the father and child like bond between Captain Fuller and his team.
The show proceeds to get even better for the second season, having some of the greatest episodes in the series. The third season following suit by introducing new character Detective Booker (played by Richard Grieco) and adding a whole new dynamic to the team.
But as much as I love this show, there are always going to be flaws.
One of these big flaws is the lack of fleshing out the whole team during the first two seasons. We see a rotation episode to episode. This episode we see Depp and DeLuise go undercover together, the next week we see Depp and Robinson, the week after that we see Robinson and Deluise.
Do you see the missing element? They have a whole other person on the team that was never highlighted. Ioki. We would go episodes without even seeing him! Sometimes, he would show up for thirty seconds just to say that he’s doing paper work in his office. Heck, even Captain Fuller would go undercover with the team on occasion leaving Ioki to hold down the fort back at the station.
This situation gets better after season two however, as Johnny Depp begins his hatred for the show and slowly leaves the fore front, Ioki gets utilized more often. Teaming up with Penhall and Hoffs in local high schools. Even getting his own entire episode giving him a very in-depth backstory.
Another issue with the show, is after season three, Johnny Depp began doing everything he could to get out of the show. Phoning in his performances, refusing to do certain episodes, etc. He didn’t agree with how some of the episodes handled their sensitive topics such as race and sexual assault. He eventually leaves the show after the fourth season.
Depp was a huge reason that the show is as good as it is, so when he checks out (figuratively and literally) the show takes a dive in quality. Depp isn’t the only one done with the show, as Nguyen also leaves after season four.
Grieco left the show after season four to star in his own spinoff show Booker, and DeLuise’s Penhall was reduced to a minor role for the last season. With a majority of the main cast leaving, the fifth and final season did not do well at all.
This show has some absolutely awesome moments, such as when Hanson and Penhall go undercover as THE MCQUAID BROTHAS!!! or the episode Orpheus 3.3 where Johnny Depp gives the best performance of the entire show. It is jam packed with awesome crime solving, comedy, and action. All while giving a really down to earth story about a group of co-workers and how they become a family.
I can’t recommend this show enough, and it is available to stream on Amazon Prime and NBC’s new Peacock streaming service. If you are looking for a new show to binge this weekend, this is the show to watch!