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Action, Reviews, Revisit, Television

21 Jump Street, Pilot Episode Part 1 (1987) – Aaron’s Episode Recap


I was surprised, much like a few of my friends, when I found the new 21 Jump Street movie to be way better than expected.  Seriously, the film was too damn entertaining.  The kind of entertaining that when I talk about it to a friend, I get tempted to go see it again.

Basically, the film is a reboot of the popular television show by the same name….obviously.  You know, the Stephen J Cannell show that made Johnny Depp a teen heart throb?  The one about young looking cops going undercover at different high schools?  The one that, if memory serves me, I watched religiously every week, every Season….well until the Richard Greico years.  Yeah, that one.

Well after seeing the film (which you should really go see if you haven’t yet), I decided to revisit the original 21 Jump Street television show.  And thankfully, all episodes are available on Hulu so I didn’t have to do much digging.  Upon revisiting the first episode, the theme song immediately rushed back with a flood of memories of my childhood love of this show.  Not to mention, the damn song (which is sung by Holly Robinson) has been stuck in my head now for days.

So since I am now making it a mission to re-watch every episode (yes even the Richard Greico ones), I found it only fair to share my thoughts in an episode by episode recap on here.  How exciting for you!

Let’s begin, shall we….

It’s April 12th, 1987 and the two part pilot episode of 21 Jump Street directed by Kim Manners (X Files, The Shield, Supernatural) premiered on broadcast television.  Part 1 opens on a typical suburban family arguing about something stupid.  Almost immediately, I’m reminded how goofy television programming used to be.  Compared to what we have to choose from nowadays, it’s as if this gem was found locked up in a time capsule of sorts.  Then again, it WAS the 80’s!

So yeah, here we have slutty sister arguing with mom about something completely unimportant.  What is amusing is the mother interrupts telling her to eat real food by calling her “Anorexia”.  See?  The 80s were amazing!

Soon we’re at the dinner table and this family is talking about nothing important what-so-ever.  Soon the younger of the siblings Kenny joins the table.  He’s taking clarinet lessons.  It’s the same clarinet his father used to play when he was Kenny’s age!  And he seems to give a shit as much about this detail as I do.

Just when things couldn’t get more boring, Michael Jackson and Dr Dre bust in right through the sliding glass doors.  They just walk right through it like the fucking Kool Aid Man because glass is a pussy when you got shot guns and are wearing a Thriller jacket!

Suddenly, things get interesting.  Apparently, little clarinet nerd Kenny owes the scary black men money.  This kid’s acting is a bit too over the top and honestly, I wanted 80s Eddie Murphy to clock him one.  Instead, he shoots the microwave.  Or maybe it was the TV?  They both looked similar back then. But whatever, you get the gist.  Drug money, Kenny owes them a bunch.  For collateral, they take the father’s brand new Jaguar instead.  And here my friends, is the high school story setup for the episode!

Cut to, some diner.  A fat old cop and young rookie are talking rather loudly while leaving the bathroom.  Lo and behold, it’s fucking Marty Seinfeld and Captain Jack Sparrow!

But seriously, that’s Officer Tom Hanson and his training officer Charlie.  Charlie is basically running him through the motions of what seasoned cops do since Hanson is an eager straight out of the Academy type.  After a few minutes of banter back and forth, they receive a call and head over to Kenny’s family’s house.

While they talk with the family about the stolen car (because that’s all they reported), Kenny is nowhere to be found.  Oh, wait, no…he’s just kicking it on the stairs.  All reclining n shit.

And here comes Officer Hanson to charm him with his good looks and boyish charm?

Sadly, Officer Hanson’s charm doesn’t work on little Kenny.  All leaned back like a boss, he replies to him defiantly by saying, “I won’t tell you spit!”  Spit?  Really?  Ok, dude.  Whatever.

And here we are, at the 10 minute mark of the episode.  From here, Hanson and Charlie drive around a bit.  A robbery happens at a local liquor store and they drive by the car full of criminals.  Charlie instinctively stops and asks them how they’re doing and then points out they are stopped at a green light.  This turns into a car chase with Hanson behind the wheel which damn near causes the old man to die of a heart attack.  Once they finally have the culprits handcuffed on the side of the road Charlie leaves young Hanson (who seems like he’s never held a gun before) to guard the group alone while he goes to call for backup.  Yeah…

 A fight breaks out, all but one of the guys get away.  Their squad car? Stolen.  And as an added bonus from the altercation, Hanson accidentally busts Charlie’s nose.  Way to go, hot shot.

From this incident, the Captain decides it’d be best to move Hanson to a new program that he’d be perfect for.   The kind of assignment he’d be too old for in ten years time.  See, there’s an undercover unit that works out of an old abandoned chapel on Jump Street and 6th.  They take the young officers and train them to be high school students.  Undercover work.  In high schools.  (You all knew this when you started reading so don’t look at me like that!)

Well Officer Hanson isn’t having it.  He walks out as the Captain recalls what a great offer young Hanson’s dad was.  This leads us to a nice little pensive interlude with Officer Tom Hanson and his precious saxophone.

This is followed by a voice over memory of a conversation between Hanson and his father.  And bing bang boom, he’s soon driving up to the church on Jump Street.  Seriously, we’re almost halfway through this episode.  When do we get more scary black thugs!? Yes, this is the point of the episode where Aaron starts getting impatient.

But that’s okay, because we are finally introduced to the Jump Street gang!

The first we see is Doug Penhall.  He’s kind of the loud mouth meat head of the group.  I guess it’s only fitting since Peter DeLuise is the son of the late Dom Deluise.  Am I right or am I right?  Well I kind of AM right because it’s true.

Here, Penhall is discussing with Hanson whether or not this abandoned chapel they are in is truly a church as he thinks it may be a synagogue.  His mom is Jewish which means, in his words, “I get to celebrate both guilt and Hell.”  I like this guy.

And he is hanging with Officer Harry Truman Ioki so that’s the next person we meet.  So there he is.  All suave.  Just leaning back in his chair like a boss n shit.

Hanson explains he’s there to report to Captain Richard Jenko.  Here’s a fun little piece of trivia: Jenko is the name of Channing Tatum’s character in the 21 Jump Street movie.  How exciting to know and then share this fun fact with you.  Because it’s a fact, and fun!

Soon enters Captain Richard Jenko, who’s been a Deadhead since Woodstock.  How peachy.

Wait….where’s the angry black Captain?  I don’t remember this guy. I want the angry black guy!

Whatever….anyway….Jenko walks Hanson through the place and runs him through his new assignment.  Basically, he is to be trained to be a high school student again.  Multiple comments about Hanson’s “Richie Cunningham” hairdo and style later, Jenko calls in Judy Hoffs to help transform the young officer.

Woohoo!  Hot chick!

And then it’s off to wardrobe and to some weird haircut place that I probably would have found cool in the 80s but looks a bit creepy now.  The rabbit’s face says it all.

After what seems like a very long time waiting, Hanson exits looking like they just wet his hair and sprayed it with Aqua Net or something.

Soon, Hoffs and Hanson are out at the arcade playing video games while Hoffs suggestively eats a hot dog.  Or maybe not suggestively.  But I’m a guy.  So that’s how we see things.

Oh and now they’re record shopping!?  Come on!  There’s bad black men with shotguns and sunglasses out there that need to be captured!

Finally, we get to some action.  And I guess the action is taking place outside of some New Wave Goth Club or something.  Yeah, I know from experience but those places look way scarier than they are.  But still, remember when studded leather jackets made you seem hard?

Don’t look now, but here comes the creepy neighborhood sex offender in his rapist van!

Penhall knows what’s up!  He angrily throws his beer right at the creepy pedophile.

 Oh but nevermind, it’s angry hippy Jenko behind the wheel!  Hoffs, Hanson and Ioki are stone cold kicking it in the back of the van too.  What really just went down was Penhall exposing the “mark” for Hanson to bust.  Some other dude with an annoying haircut who is apparently a drug dealer.  Psssh….white people.

Anyway, as I said, this altercation is basically to show Hanson who to take down.  This is his first test to make sure he can blend in.  And yep, he fails.  Goes to arrest the guy after he sells him the weed.  He even insists on smelling it before buying and after he cuffs the guy, it turns out to be a pair of socks in the baggie.  A pair of socks!? Jenko ain’t pleased.

Oh hey!  Remember young Kenny?  Yeah me neither, it’s been so long.  You know, the kid that ain’t gonna tell us piss?  The clarinet nerd?  The whiny kid that owes those scary black boys a bunch of drug money?  Yeah, now I remember too!  Well look at that, with 10 minutes left in the episode, we find him driving through a residential neighborhood very early in the morning on his moped delivering newspapers.  What an upstanding young man!

Oh wait, nevermind.  He’s robbing a jewelry store.  My bad.

Next thing we know, the Jump Street cops are catching up with Jenko about their recent assignments and Hanson gets his first real one.  He is to enter Amherst High School as a disciplinary transfer.  And as soon as he arrives on campus, he finds himself parking in the wrong parking spot.  Who’s parking spot is he in?  Waxer! Who’s Waxer?  My favorite shotgun wielding, Thriller jacket having, stunner shade wearing black guy!

Him and his cohort end up having a stand off with Hanson who refuses to move his car and this turns into a scuffle pretty fast.  A crowd of kids form to watch the new guy fight the only two black kids in school.  At least it seems like they’re the only two black kids.  And they look like they’re 25.  But whatever.

So the fight gets broken up, they end up in the principal’s office.  Yadda yadda.  And then, just as the episode is about to end, guess who decides to join the party?  That’s right.  Kenny.  Cuz he goes to Amherst High School too!

Oh snap.

And on a threat from Waxer to Hanson, Part 1 of The Pilot Episode Ends.

To Be Continued…

About Aaron

I was born a poor black child.

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