21 Jump Street

DVD Review: 21 Jump Street: Season 2 – Want To Go To High School With Johnny Depp?

Running from 1987-1988, the second season of 21 Jump Street continued following the story of four young police officers whose job it was to go undercover at various high schools in and around a city. Although it was supposed to take place “somewhere” in the United States, like many Stephen J. Cannell series in the late 1980s, filming actually took place in Vancouver, Canada.

The officers were portrayed by Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise, Holly Robinson, and Dustin Nguyen. Their Captain was Adam Fuller, portrayed by Steven Williams. At times he is more of a father figure than a Captain, but it’s precisely this warm relationship between the officers and the Captain that makes the show work.

This season found the characters developed much more. It also seemed as if they were more individualized and oftentimes acting in a way that would normally be considered to go completely against a police officer’s code of conduct. There was talking back to their Captain, disappearing while on assignment for no good reason, taking matters into their own hands, punching out filing cabinets, falsifying their identities, and more. However, it was through a lot of this that we learned about how Hansen’s father died, how Ioki came to this country and who he really is, about Penhall’s tragic upbringing and ongoing feelings of self-doubt, and how Fuller’s marriage broke up,

The second season tackled some heavy-duty subjects as well. Some of these, such as steroid use, were something completely unheard of among the general public at this time. 21 Jump Street was raising a red flag on steroid use and abuse before most of us even knew what it was. The same was true of AIDS. The story told is similar to that of Ryan White except it really tried to make people ask the question of if it really mattered how someone got the disease and whether or not we cared about them. Evolution in the classroom? 21 Jump Street was talking about it back in 1988.

Guest stars during this season included future stars such as Brad Pitt, Jason Priestley, and Christina Applegate.

The one major fault with the show had to do with how fast the undercover officers seemed to ingratiate themselves with their marks. I know this had to do with the time constraints of the script, but oftentimes it just gave the episode a forced feeling.

Sometimes the quality of the DVD is uneven. There are times when the picture is quite grainy and fuzzy while at others it’s crystal-clear and sharp. Overall the picture is decent, but there are times I had to take the DVD out and check it.

If nothing else, my five-year-old positively loves the theme song. It’s a shame the other original music wasn’t left in. Instead, generic “muzak” is on the soundtrack instead of the period music. This really would have been a plus for the setting of the episodes for those of us who watched the show originally, to have the original music. It would also be great to give my kids a better understanding of just why I like some of the songs I do and why they have a meaning to me. A lot of people were turned onto music that wasn’t being heard on the top-40 mainstream radio stations because of this show and it’s a real shame it’s missing now. This is a sad trend I am seeing among television show collections being released on DVD.

21 Jump Street is a great show to watch with teenagers to create a dialogue. The events might be a bit dated, and at times the situation seems contrived and forced, but it can be a catalyst for some good conversations with teenagers about a wide variety of subjects most of which still have a great deal of relevance today – if you can get them to watch it with you.


In The Custody of a Clown – When a boy is kidnapped from in front of his school with a crowd of witnesses, Hansen and Penhall investigate. It turns out to be much more than a simple abduction. Meanwhile, Hoffs’ mother comes for a visit and reveals that she is having an affair, leaving Judy to cope with the emotional fallout on both her end and her father’s.

Besieged Part 1 – At a high school where drug use is rampant, the officers go undercover to flesh out what’s going on with the help of a local officer. While Hanson goes into the school, Penhall rides with the Sergeant. He learns that the “dedicated and respected” police officer is not all he’s cracked up to be. Hoffs befriends the girlfriend of a recently murdered dealer at the school.

Meanwhile, Ioki gets tagged by the computer as not existing.

Besieged – Part 2 – The second part of this episode deals with the fallout from Penhall’s accusations against the “dedicated and respected” officer he rode with in the first part. Hansen goes on patrol with him.

Ioki begins getting death benefits and faces a quandary when those checks are more than he was receiving as a police officer.

Meanwhile, Penhall and Hoffs grow closer as they commiserate over the case and almost take their relationship to a different level.

Hoffs: You had condoms in your wallet, Doug
Penhall: I always have condoms in my wallet… Like when you go for a drive bring a spare with you in case you get a flat
Hoffs: That’s just great. Judy Hoffs, road hazard.

Two For the Road – Penhall goes undercover at a high school where getting drunk seems to be the most popular sport. Hansen soon joins him and the two try to flush out who is selling the fake IDs to the kids.

Jason Priestley is in this one – his second appearance in the show as two different characters.

Fuller gets arrested for DWI after attending a retirement party.

After School Special – When a teacher gets shot at a school, Hoffs and Fuller go undercover. Fuller uncovers teachers who are carrying guns as protection and who have become jaded and cynical. Hoffs tangles with the girlfriend of a popular character and ends up with her life on the line.

Meanwhile, Hansen must face his mother’s new boyfriend.

Higher Education – When a pregnant student at a high school where Ioki was undercover accuses him of being the father of her baby, he must fight the accusation without having to wait nine months for it to be proven false. When Hoffs and Penhall go undercover to investigate, the finger seems to be pointed at a popular teacher.

Meanwhile, Fuller is talked into discussing the Jump Street program on a popular television talk show with disastrous results.

Don’t Stretch the Rainbow – At a racially-charged school, numerous clashes between the diverse populations lead to Hansen undercover at the school. A Romeo and Juliet-like romance escalate the tension as normal teen angst gets a racial twist.

Honor Bound – Hansen and Penhall go undercover at a military academy to try and flush out if anyone from the school is responsible for an assault on gays in the town.

You Oughta Be In Prison – Penhall and Hansen are assigned as bodyguards to a Hollywood bad-boy in town to shoot a film. The assignment turns deadly serious when Waxer from the pilot episode escapes prison and comes gunning for Hansen after seeing him on television.

How Much Is That Body in the Window? – This episode tackles steroid abuse at a time when it was still an anomaly and generally not a subject the public was versed in. Hoffs and Penhall go undercover at an athletically competitive high school to try to find out who is selling it to the students.

Hansen thinks about becoming a “Big Brother” and ends up dating the social worker.

Christmas in Saigon – When Ioki’s real identity is revealed, he shares with the squad a harrowing tale of his flight from Vietnam to the United States. This challenges Fuller’s feelings for the young officer as he must confront his own baggage from his time there.

Fear & Loathing with Russell Buckins – Hansen goes undercover to nail a drag racer who’s responsible for numerous accidents and wanted for a felony hit-and-run. At the same time, Russell Buckins, an old friend of his, arrives with news about Tom’s old girlfriend getting married.

Hansen disobeys a direct order and both he and Penhall have to be recycled through the Police Academy. Hansen takes off after his old girlfriend while Penhall is back at the Academy (note the instructor at the Academy portrayed by Marc Alaimo, “Gul Dukat” of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

Hansen (about his car, a classic Mustang fastback): This is a vintage machine… it’s a work of art… It’s like a DaVinci
Penhall: Now it’s a Warhol

A Big Disease With a Little Name – Hansen is assigned to protect Harley, an HIV-positive student who wants to attend a school like “normal” kids his age. It captures the fear and ignorance that surrounded the disease when people were first learning about it.

Hansen: “How did he get it?”
Fuller: “Does it matter?”
Hansen: “Kind of…”

That is typical of the climate at the time where a lot of people thought anyone with AIDS somehow “deserved it”. Hansen gets to be friends with Harley and his attitude changes throughout the episode.

Meanwhile, Penhall develops a crush on a marine biologist at a local aquarium. When he finally decides to make a move, an old girlfriend, Dorothy, suddenly pops into the picture.

Chapel of Love – On Valentine’s Day the squad relays the stories of the worst dates/Valentines Day’s of their lives.

I’m OK, You Need Work – The character of Kenny Weckerley returns from the first season pilot episode as his father puts him in a treatment program. Kenny claims terrible abuse in the program and his sister Noreen turns to Hansen to help her brother. He goes undercover (without the consent of the department) at the facility where Kenny is housed. Christina Applegate guest stars as another patent in the hospital with Kenny.

Orpheus 3.3 – When Hansen’s girlfriend, Amy, is shot to death in front of him, he suffers from the guilt of not being able to save her in addition to the fact that he was about to break up with her.

Champagne High – When a Porsche is stolen from a mall in an upscale neighborhood where kids are being bused into the high school, Hansen and Penhall resurrect “the McQuaid Brothers” and go undercover while Hoffs aligns herself with the rich kids.

Brother Hansen & the Miracle of Renner’s Pond – Hansen is sent into a school in a Fundamentalist area of town to find out who’s responsible for the burning of science textbooks in protest over the study of evolution. In the process, he reawakens and questions his own spirituality.

Raising Marijuana – Penhall and Ioki go undercover among a group of teenagers who are being used to transport marijuana. Meanwhile, Hoffs gets close to “the man at the top” and loses her heart in the process, putting the entire case at risk as well as her career.

The Best Years of Your Life – When a kid they caught vandalizing a house in the set-up for a cat-burglar sting kills himself, Hansen and Penhall have very different reactions. A very young Brad Pitt guest stars in this episode which explored teen suicide.

Corey & Dean Got Married – A young couple gets married while on the run for the murder of her father. When the girl is apprehended, Hoffs and Penhall are assigned to bring her back. Her “husband” comes to her rescue and ends up taking Hoffs hostage.

School’s Out – When school’s out for the summer, the squad is transferred out to other departments. It’s a situation that might become permanent if the Jump Street program gets the budget ax.


On Disc Six, they include a Photo Gallery, the script from Don’t Stretch the Rainbow on DVD-ROM, and deleted scenes from that episode in French.

You Oughta Be In Prison is available to be viewed with audio commentary by Peter DeLuise.

2 replies »

  1. I admire how this show portrays the characters as more developed later as well as the conflict in the series. I’m sorry to hear that the DVD’s quality wasn’t ideal. But I do think it’s funny that your 5-year-old loves the theme song.