21 Jump Street was one of the flagship shows of the Fox Television Network when it first launched. The show was centered around a team of police officers who looked very young and were used as undercover officers in various high schools around a fairly large city.
The original cast of officers was Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise, Holly Robinson, and Dustin Nguyen. This force was commanded by Steven Williams. A recurring character of the janitor was also added, as portrayed by Sal Jenco.
By this fourth season, there were some issues that really needed to be addressed. The producers of the show seemed to acknowledge in this season that there was no way their regular cast was headed back into high school on a regular basis. All of the actors had matured since the inception of the program. Into the fourth season, the focus changed from high school to college and even to the outside world in general. There were more shows outside of schools than ever before in the series.
At the same time, it became apparent that Johnny Depp wanted out of the series. Some of his performances this season lacked the vitality he had shown earlier in the series. Cannell and the powers that be at Fox would have been better off writing Tom Hansen out of the show as part of the conclusion to the season three cliffhanger. In fact, the last episode Depp appears in wasn’t even included in this DVD boxed set, but was saved for season five.
At the end of last season, a lot of fans thought Tom Hanson would be forever relegated to prison for the murder of a fellow police officer. Johnny Depp had made a lot of noise about wanting off the show to pursue other things. In a surprising turn of events, it wasn’t Johnny Depp who left the show, but Richard Greico who was spun off into his own show.
One of the few bright spots is the episode 2245, which is about the death penalty. Although it really didn’t evoke sympathy for me, Depp gives what is perhaps his last decent performance in this series. It’s shown that Tom Hansen feels some sympathy for the man about to be executed, I didn’t see it for myself. The man was a drug dealer who did kill at least one police officer and didn’t seem to be sorry for what he had done, only that he was caught. I felt that this was exactly the type of person who the death penalty was for.
Other topical stories were college students who are pushed through the system for their athletic ability, date rape, college gambling, designer drugs, parental kidnapping, and domestic violence. That’s not to say there weren’t many humorous moments during the season, such as when the team is undercover at the technical college and they deal with “ditch day” when they have to spend the day sort of solving puzzles to get a reward at the end.
Once again, most of the original music has been removed from the episodes, and that’s a shame. Many great bands were heard by a wide audience for the first time, and the music was important to the setting for various episodes. U2’s With or Without You was the background to Penhall’s quest for the woman he married after she was deported back to her home nation, El Salvador, which was war-torn at the time. Hearing it in this context soon after I had lost someone I cared about really hit home with me and I was terribly disappointed to see it gone. Other great musicians removed from the series and replaced with generic muzak include Depeche Mode, Sting, and Peter Gabriel.
Guest stars this season included Rob Estes, Thomas Haden Church, Michael Des Barres (making his second appearance in the series), Billy Warlock, Shannen Doherty, Rosie Perez, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Richard Roundtree, Diedrich Bader, and Donovan Leitch.
The series quality was obviously waning, and in my opinion, there was a reason it was canceled the following season. This is the last season that it really could be called “decent” and even at that, many times the scripts felt like they were missing something. If you’ve followed the series to this point, you might enjoy this season, but it’s not where I would start, nor would I recommend it to someone who hadn’t seen anything else of the series. Even at that, my recommendation to view it is borderline as it’s really not a great season to judge this series by. The second season was the best, in my opinion.
Draw the Line – As Ioki clings to life, Hanson suffers through prison flagged as a cop. Meanwhile, Booker is still teamed with the dead cop’s former partner and things don’t seem to be adding up. He decides to investigate on his own to clear Hanson. In a take-off of the movie 48 Hours, Booker springs Hanson from prison for 24 hours to get Penhall to help them out.
Booker loses his standing due to his actions. This is where he was spun off to his own show for a time.
Say It Ain’t So, Pete – Hanson and Penhall go undercover to deal with a college gambling problem. Meanwhile, Penhall, Hoffs, and Ioki take the detectives exam.
Rob Estes guest stars. An episode with some of the original music intact! There are a lot of songs by the B52s
Eternal Flame – While investigating a club where the owner is suspected of providing LSD to its patrons, Hanson runs into an old girlfriend, who happens to now be the wife of the man he’s investigating.
Thomas Haden Church and Michael Des Barres are guest stars in this episode.
Come From the Shadows – In what becomes an ongoing story, Penhall falls for Marta, an illegal alien from El Salvador while on assignment investigating a baby-selling ring with Hoffs. The ring might center around a young, enigmatic priest. In order to keep her in the country, Penhall marries her but in the end, she is deported anyway. He learns she has disappeared after being kidnapped by government forces.
God is a Bullet – When a tough new principal tries to straighten out a crime-infested inner-city high school, Hoffs and Penhall go in to monitor the situation.
Old Haunts in the New Age – It’s Halloween and a rash of school fires send Penhall and Hanson undercover to flesh out the perpetrator. While there, they encounter a student who claims to be psychic and able to predict where the next fire will occur.
Penhall believes he’s had an encounter with a UFO.
Out of Control – When a group of out-of-control youths accuses the security guards which patrol their area of being the perpetrators of a string of robberies, Hanson goes undercover with the youths while Ioki and Penhall are assigned to the area as guards.
Both Ioki and Hanson are still dealing with the demons from the end of last season. Ioki is having problems giving up the painkillers from his injury and Hanson is plagued by nightmares and doubts.
Stand By Your Man – Hoffs is date-raped after going undercover at a medical school that’s suspected of harboring a drug ring.
Mike’s P.O.V. – When a teacher’s wife is murdered, Penhall and Hanson investigate and learn that the teacher hired one of his students to do the deed. Guest stars in this episode are Donovan Leitch and Vince Vaughn.
Wheels and Deals Part 1 – Booker is back. While looking for a kid’s missing dog, he stumbles into the thick of another case involving Raymond Crane, who was behind Ioki being shot and Hanson going to jail at the beginning of the season. It’s really more an episode of his short-lived series Booker than it is 21 Jump Street, but it’s needed to understand the second part of the episode. At the conclusion of Part 1, Booker turns to his friends at Jump Street for help bringing Crane down.
Wheels and Deals Part 2 – Having turned to his old friends at Jump Street for help bringing down Raymond Crane, Ioki and Fuller go undercover among a group of motorcycle riders who hang around with Crane. They know he had a man murdered but must find the evidence that will put him behind bars.
Parental Guidance Suggested – When the team is undercover staking out a family suspected of operating a burglary ring, Hoffs and Fuller unintentionally stumble on a case of abuse, and then possibly murder when the father mysteriously disappears. Paul Gleason guest stars as the father.
Things We Said Today – Ioki is confronted by a gas station attendant who he knew when he was undercover. The episode flashes back to the two of them in an auditorium as students assemble and watch the Challenger disaster. Later on, Ioki convinces Kyle to turn in his parents who are dealing in the school through his sister, Janine.
In the present time, Ioki tries to stop Kyle from self-destructing but also re-examines his own life.
Shannen Doherty guest stars in the episode as Janine.
Research and Destroy – Hansen, Ioki, and Hoffs go undercover at a prestigious technical college where the chemistry lab is suspected as the source of designer drugs that are hitting the street.
Ioki stumbles on a Chinese student who is afraid to go back to his country due to supporting the actions of the demonstrators and reformers in Tiananmen Square.
A Change of Heart – When a teacher is found murdered, Hoffs and Fuller go undercover to try to figure out who the murderer is. A lesbian student makes a pass at Hoffs.
Back From the Future – Set in the future, a too-young-looking officer hopes to revive the Jump Street program and interviews the long-retired former officers assigned to the program.
2245 – Ronnie Seebok from the earlier episode Beseiged is back as a juvenile on death row who Hanson wants to use in a film that might help save a few of the kids in the area of the city he originally came from. The episode traces his path through the system to death row.
Hi Mom – Hansen and Penhall go undercover to investigate the drug-related death of a college basketball star and uncover a point-shaving scheme as well as several athletes who have been pushed through the system academically when they aren’t up to college standards.
Fuller’s son Kip will be attending the same college.
Awoom-Bomp-Aloobomp, Aloop-Bamboom – Wanting to get out of the cold but unable to wrap up their case so they can go on vacation, Hansen and Penhall trail a college bombing suspect to Florida during Spring Break. Penhall makes the decision to try to find Marta in El Salvador.
La Bizca – Hansen travels with Penhall to El Salvador to try to find Marta, whom Penhall married at the beginning of the season but was deported. It’s an eye-opening experience for the two of them. Penhall ends up bringing his wife’s young nephew back to The States with him.
Richard Roundtree guest stars as Ben, who helps them find their way around the country.
Last Chance High – Hansen and Penhall go undercover as the McQuaid Brothers in a rough high school where the students are suspected of a rash of thefts from a nearby office complex. Hansen stumbles onto a student who may have stolen her own baby sister from her parents. Meanwhile, Penhall is dealing with becoming a father.
Diedrich Bader guest stars in the episode.
Unfinished Business – When a disabled woman is assaulted on a college campus, Fuller sends Hoffs in to pose as a disabled student herself, much to the chagrin of Rebecca, a disabled female cop on the force. For Judy, it’s a real eye-opener about what it’s like to be disabled.
Shirts and Skins – when the leader of a local Neo-Nazi group is murdered, Hoffs and Ioki go undercover with those that protest them to find out if anyone there was involved with the killing. Meanwhile, Penhall goes undercover with the Neo-Nazis to find out if they are planning any retaliation.
How I Saved the Senator – When an attempt is made on a Senator’s life while speaking at a high school, each of the Jump Street officers recounts a very different and unique version of what actually happened to an aspiring screenwriter.
Rounding Third – Sal drafts Penhall to coach his son’s Little League team. After he sees one of his player’s pictures on a milk carton, Penhall believes the boy was kidnapped by his father.
Everyday Is Christmas – Penhall leaves Ioki behind on an assignment to go check on his injured nephew at the hospital, leaving Ioki all alone when a shoot-out occurs. As part of a disciplinary action, Penhall is transferred to a precinct known for being where the City transfers all the officers who are “wash-outs” or “rejects”. He soon learns that many of them are on the take from various businesses in the area as he tries to protect a rookie from going the same way they are.