When I was a kid, I couldn't have given two tugs of a dead dog's cock about 21 JUMP STREET. I figured it was a version of those G.I. Joe PSAs meant for teenagers, so I avoided it. Fast forward until about a year ago, when I came upon season 1 in a catalog on sale for a single American dollar (plus shipping, of course). I had a dollar to spare, and I'm a big fan of Johnny Depp, so I figured why not? I didn't know Peter DeLuise was on the show at the time, but I loved his work on STARGATE SG-1. I didn't even know X from THE X-FILES was the captain of the division, but I love the fuck out of Steven Williams. I don't know why I passed on this show back in the day.
Even as an adult, though, I didn't expect much. The pilot episode did not impress me. Surprisingly, Capt. Fuller wasn't the first leader of the department. It was actually the guy who played Blue Duck on LONESOME DOVE, and he was very cool in the role. Regardless, I stayed with it, and it got me. I swear, I fell in love by the third episode.
The show didn't pull punches. It took very complex situations and did not offer easy answers. Sometimes, the good guys lost. Sometimes, the good guys won by cheating and were punished for it. And then, in between the serious episodes, you'd find some shows when the characters just sort of hung out, like the one when they told stories about how they lost their virginity, which reminded me of the Star Trek book where all the crew members talked about their Kobayashi Maru tests. Or how about the episode when they went into the future and interviewed all of the Jump Street cops as geriatrics? What about the RASHOMON episode when the JS cops tell their individual versions of the truth while being interviewed by the press? (Which, by the way, was one of my favorite episodes.) And then there was the Halloween episode, which needs to be seen to be believed.
And then, of course, there was Blowfish. Goddammit, I loved that character. I hated that he wasn't around for the final season.
I identified with Hanson, Johnny Depp's character, because he always used SOP, but I couldn't abide by him because he never knew when to break the rules. I identified with Doug Penhall most, because we have a very similar parental background, but he was never smart enough because emotion led his first four years on the show. I identified with Harry Ioki because of his outsider status, but he was too violent for my likes. And I identified with Judy Hoffs, because she's very good at her job, but she had hang-ups that I could never get past.
I believe there is something for everyone on this show, and there's enough subject matter to digest for a lifetime. However, I was warned about the last season, which supposedly torpedoed the show. To be fair, it was a mess. Johnny Depp and Dustin Nguyen both left the show. Peter DeLuise put in a half-season's work before leaving, too. Most of that final season was spent trying out characters, hoping someone would stick. Penhall's brother Joey stuck for a while, and though I liked him a lot, he was quickly kicked to the curb. The only new character that seemed to do well was Michael Bendetti's Mac. It was obvious why they hired him: he looked a lot like Depp and exhibited a lot of the same characteristics. He was bent on living by the book, but he had a lot of heart. He did not have an enviable position, because he was specifically hired to act like Depp, but he did a pretty good job.
In the end, despite my initial reluctance, I enjoyed my time with the show, all five seasons, even the final one. When I heard that Hollywood had made a movie out of the show, I had a great deal of doubt. It was obviously a comedy, and it didn't seem to care about the tone of the source material. Yet . . .
Aw hell. I loved it, especially since it was revealed to be canon. SPOILER ALERT: Depp and DeLuise reprise their roles from the original show, revealing that they'd gone into adult undercover work. However, Hanson and Penhall die in a horrible gunfight, which is contrary to the TV show they did about the future. If this is, indeed, canon, they completely fucked that episode. However, it might not be that bad, since it was a pretty outlandish episode, anyway. It should also be noted that Holly Robinson Peete returned as Hoffs, even though it was a split second cameo. Too bad. She was the strongest of the characters. I would have given her a spin-off over Booker, that's for sure, even though I wound up liking Booker in the end. (They also got Dustin Nguyen to return, but it was a cheat; they featured his face on the TV in the background in the gunfight that cost Hanson and Penhall their lives.) END OF SPOILERS.
I just received my copy of 22 JUMP STREET. I haven't watched it yet, but I have a good feeling about it. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't avoid certain news about cameos in it. Part of me hopes that Bendetti shows up, though. He got a raw deal. Even though he was brought onto the show in unfortunate circumstances, he did his absolute best to overcome the situation. I think he did a great job. He managed to make the character his own, instead of a hollow imitation of Hanson.
I'm sure I'll update you all when I finally watch the movie. Tonight, I watched the last episode. The writing didn't falter. Neither did the acting. It ended on a strong note. There's a part of me that wonders if they knew they were being canceled, considering Hoffs's attitude toward her job and what that entailed.
My journey is one movie away from being done.