Monday, June 14, 2010

45 Minutes Week 24 - Was High School Really This Lame?

I'm sitting at home on a Sunday night, watching the Boston Celtics take on the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA championship.  At the same time, I'm watching the Chicago Cubs somehow turn eight innings of no-hit ball into a heart attack of a ninth inning, and reading the latest issue of Batman.  At 34, I've somehow managed to turn back the clock to 1987, and am only one verse of "Fight for Your Right to Party" away from believing that I've somehow found the fountain of youth in a grudgingly drank can of Moxie.

Fuck it, when this is all over, I'm going to watch an episode of 21 Jump Street.

To set the mood...

Flashback to spring, 1987.  I'm 11 years old, dressed in ill fitting jeans, a Cubs away jersey, and some sweet Reeboks, enjoying the tail end of grade number five.  At Milo Elementary, that meant I was one of the head crackers in charge.  We, and by we I mean mostly 5th grade boys, ran the playground.  The kickball teams were picked by us, not always by talent, but popularity.  You wanted the swings?  Better make sure we weren't on them first.  For the first time in our life, it was okay to feel a little badass. Even some of my friends were trying tobacco for the first time.  Not smoking, as that would be way to easy of a target for our eagle eyed teachers, but chewing tobacco.  Myself, I never understood the appeal, even when it would have been a way to rebel against something.  But I was a content 5th grader, and never saw the need to rage against the elementary machine.  Besides, I had my sights set on something bigger.

Middle school.

In my hometown, that meant a mile or so trip down the road to the big(ger) building on the hill.  It was there that both the middle and  high school sat, connected like conjoined twins born three years apart.  I had no older siblings, so it's mysteries were unknown to me.  A friends older brother would frighten us with horror stories of one eyed janitors (which wasn't that frightening because our janitor only had two fingers on one hand), bullies the size of linebackers, tests that lasted all day, and the horrors of horrors, the gym showers.  It was something I couldn't wait to experience, minus the showers, regardless of how bad the stories of 6th grader hazing sounded.

Then I watched 21 Jump Street.

The summer between elementary and middle school, my family and I visited my Aunt and Uncle who lived in Southern Maine.  That meant the technology leapt ahead light years, with amazing sights and sounds such as cable television, VCR's, and stoplights.  It also meant the FOX network, which up until then, I had no idea existed.  I grew up on FOUR stations, so don't cry to me when your cable goes out.

For those of you who don't know, 21 Jump Street was the show that kickstarted the career of Johnny Depp.  He played Officer Tom Hanson, the straight-laced and baby-faced odd man out on the force.  It seemed his youthful good looks often got him in trouble with the criminal element.  Who could possibly take an arresting officer who barely looked old enough to shave seriously?  So he was assigned, rather unwillingly to Jump Street, where other young looking cops went to make a difference.  They would go undercover to high schools and solve the problems of the wayward youth.  And because it was the 80's, there was often a moral to the story.

All of which had me wanting nothing to do with high school.  When I got off the bus the first day of 6th grade, I expected to see undercover cops and shady characters playing craps against the Shop Class brick wall.  Honestly.  My brain, even then, loved a good conspiracy.  As the bus would amble past the high school, I keep my eyes trained on the high schoolers hanging around, guessing at which one was really 21.  (And in Milo, a senior around the age of 20 wasn't actually that uncommon.)

Eventually I got over it, as more important issues like making sure I wasn't thrown into lockers, the girls bathroom, the showers, or the girls bathroom showers took up more of my thoughts.  Who could think of undercover officers when escape routes were more important?

So Jump Street went away.  Eventually, when our two street town strung up some extra wires between tin cans, we got cable, but not Fox.  It would be years before I'd catch another episode during late night reruns, and by that point I couldn't bother watching past the first commercial break. 

It was more out of curiosity that I picked up the first season on DVD from Amazon a few weeks ago.  The price ($6) was right, and boy that Johnny sure is dreamy!  Two episodes in, and I'm sure this show is awful.  Mr. Depp, even then, had something special, and Holly Robinson sure is cute, but I'll be surprised if I make it to the second disc.  I might punish myself and give the second season a try, because it couldn't possibly be any worse.


  1. 21 Jump Street is great. The second season is also better. Be sure to watch out for the stand out episode 'Orpheus 3.3.' Johnny Depp gives an amazing performance in that one.

    If you can't tolerate SOME cheesyness than I guess it would be hard to get into 21 Jump Street. Personally I enjoy it a lot. Johnny Depp is a natural, and his chemistry with Peter DeLuise is awesome. Speaking of Holly Robinson's cuteness, the show kept on hinting at her character as a love interest throughout the show for Johnny Depp but they never went though with it, which is a shame...they looked good together.

  2. I can definitely tolerate some cheese, and to be fair, I only watched the first few episodes. Very few programs are going to find their footing that early, and with Depp, the show has potential. I think I like Peter Deluise, but I have trouble telling him and his brothers apart.

    I'm sure I will get around to at least watching the second season. Question though. Did bringing in Richard Greico change the show significantly? Just curious, as I remember him as "the next big thing" for a while.

  3. The show seemed to take a different tone when Richard Greico entered in season 3 from the very beginning. Very few episodes now take place in high schools, there's a significantly less lighthearted atmosphere and no more 'message' PSA like episodes (I guess by that time they've grown out of it). There was still comic relief of course, just not as much as there used to be.

    Depp appears sparingly throughout season 4 (there are episodes where he'll be in just one or two scenes) which I personally found to be a hit or miss season, and he is not in the last season.

  4. You've convinced me. I'll be sure to Netflix the next few seasons and give them a rebuttal review.

  5. I'm glad I could help. Its always a pleasure to get people into new shows that didn't initially give a very good first impression.

    Personally I loved the pilot, even if the villain had somewhat of a distracting jheri curl.