21 Jump Street

DVD Review: 21 Jump Street Season 5 – Anchor Bay Gets Lazy But Wants to Cash In

The final season of the television series 21 Jump Street was far from its finest. The show, built on the premise of police officers who looked young and went undercover in high schools, had an aging cast that had grown increasingly unhappy with how things were going.

Johnny Depp left to pursue his movie career. Dustin Nguyen left as well. The opening showing these two officers wasn’t even changed until halfway through the season. For a time, it tried to show one of the new actors in the Johnny Depp role in one of the sequences, but eventually, this was abandoned. All in all, it was poor handling of the situation. At least Peter DeLuise as Doug Penhall was there for part of the season to give his character a decent departure. Holly Robinson as Judy Hoffs and Steven Williams as Captain Fuller were still around as well.

Coming in to bring down the average age to a level that was more in line with the original premise were David Barry Gray as Officer Dean Garrett, Tony Benedetti as Officer Tony “Mac” McCann, Alexandra Powers as Officer Kati Rocky, and Michael DeLuise as Officer Joey Penhall. It’s a shame that all of them didn’t finish out the season. Tony Benedetti became a favorite and was usually an integral part of each week’s story. Michael DeLuise was also given some meatier stories. However, Alexandra Powers was never used again once her character transferred into the squad and David Barry Gray’s character disappeared later into the season.

I think a bigger ensemble could have possibly given the show new life. As it was, these actors weren’t as good as the actors from the previous four seasons, nor were they as charismatic. It showed all the more since Benedetti and DeLuise were overused as if the producers thought they could force viewers to like them.

When Doug Penhall was still a part of the story, he and Hoffs would go undercover more and more as adults in the schools to the younger cops’ students. This was a fine way to age these characters gracefully within the story and it was more believable than Hoffs’ forays into a high school gang and the like.

This season also suffered from lamer scripts, such as in Wasted when Mac learns about toxic waste being dumped, as he and a student are going over what had been dumped the Star-Spangled Banner is played in the background. It just seemed as if overall the show had run out of steam and yet they were being forced to continue producing stories, so the writers were reaching into the garbage bin and taking out scripts they had bypassed before.

Although the discs are set up as if they are double-sided discs – the title sequences show “Disc One, Side A” and “Disc One, Side B” – they aren’t. “Side B” is actually the second disc. “Disc Two Side A” is actually the third disc. It can be a bit confusing and someone messed up somewhere along the line in the production. The transfer quality is also uneven. There are some parts that are really grainy, some of the worst I have ever seen. The sound is also muddied at times. Overall, it’s very disappointing as far as the transfer goes. There is also no additional material except for one episode with commentary by Peter DeLuise.

To make matters worse, the studio – Anchor Bay – seems to have realized the golden goose with this series is the appeal of Johnny Depp. The first episode on this disc is his last with the show, which was actually the last episode of season four. There was no reason it could not have been included with the Season Four collection. The only possibility I see is that they thought the appeal of Johnny Depp was needed for the set to sell. I say forget about this season and if you really need to see everything Johnny Depp has ever done, just rent it from Netflix. You only have to get the first disc, though, the rest really aren’t worth it. Even the Depp episode, Blackout, isn’t as good as the previous seasons.

I always gravitated more to Peter DeLuise’s Doug Penhall character and I did like some of the storied he was in until his departure halfway through the season. At least he was given a decent send-off and some closure to the character. His performances still seem like he is giving it his all, which was not the case with Depp near the end. Likewise, Holly Robinson still seems to have convictions behind Hoffs, right up until the last episode of the series. I admire her greatly for not wavering in her commitment to the character.

Overall, this is something I cant really recommend. It’s just not very good episodic television, and the forced inclusion of one episode with Johnny Depp seems to be a marketing ploy. The earlier seasons are pretty good, even great, but this one just isn’t worth the time spent watching it.


EPISODE GUIDE

Disc One

Blackout – Actually the last episode of season 4, Hoffs, Penhall, and Hanson are undercover in a school investigating whether some of the students were involved in a vicious “wilding” attack when a storm causes the power to go out. A violent, uncontrollable gang begins roaming the hallways, terrorizing all, including the police officers.

Tunnel of Love – Hoffs is undercover at a massage parlor that is believed to be a front for drug smuggling. Dean makes contact with a girl at the parlor who turns out to be a DEA agent.

Back to School – Kati and Dean go undercover at a high school to find out who’s dealing drugs. Dean is reveling in all the attention when he has to start dating the nerdy-looking sister of someone who can help their case.

Buddy System – When a mentally challenged student is a witness to a murder, Mac befriends him and tries to learn who committed the crime as well as protect the student.

Disc Two

Poison – Penhall falls for a narcotics officer on assignment with Jump Street who uses questionable tactics has drug problems herself.

Just Say No! High – A school where Hoffs and Penhall are undercover implements mandatory drug testing and Hoffs tests positive, jeopardizing her career.

Brothers – Doug Penhall’s estranged brother, Joey, is assigned to Jump Street and immediately takes on a case involving a cult. The two attempt to renew their relationship after Joey becomes seduced by what the cult offers him.

This Ain’t No Summer Camp – Doug and Joey investigate a camp for troubled teens after the death of one of their charges whose father has political connections.

Disc Three

The Girl Next Door – Mac and Joey go undercover at a high school where a star football player was murdered in a hit-and-run accident. Mac ends up falling for a cheerleader who was a lifelong friend of the murdered boy and who also has AIDS.

Diplomas For Sale – The Penhall brothers go undercover at a college which seems to turn out more than its fair share of criminals. The suspects seem to be from terrific homes and have everything going for them until they attend this college.

Number One With A Bullet – While on loan to the state on a case involving payola and the mob, Penhall is shot and winds up in a coma. Hoffs and Mac go undercover at a college radio station to see if they can flush out who is responsible for the shooting after the witness Doug was protecting clams up.

Penhall re-thinks his career choice, however, especially in light of his obligation to Clavel.

This episode is available with commentary by Peter DeLuise who also directed it.

Equal Protection – Hoffs witnesses white police officers harassing black teens and ends up investigating how widespread it is with the help of her coworkers at Jump Street.

Disc Four

The Education of Terry Garver – After encountering a rape victim at the crisis counseling center, Judy goes undercover at the college where the attack took place to find out whether her story is for real or if there’s something going on at the college itself and why.

Baby Blues – After Joey shoots and kills a suspect during a drug sting, he is sent to the neo-natal unit of a local hospital as therapy. There he bonds with a baby and becomes determined to find the addicted mother who left her behind.

Film at Eleven (available with commentary by Director Peter DeLuise) – When a local newswoman’s daughter disappears, her on-air criticism of the handling of it by the police department prompts them to assign Jump Street to the case and Officer McCann locates her. Her return opens up more questions than her disappearance did.

In The Name of Love – The FBI comes to Jump Street for help in building a case against a reputed drug dealer. They enlist the help of Officer McCann in dating the suspect’s teenage daughter to get close to him. In the meantime, Tony runs into an old girlfriend who’s back in town and he wants to rekindle their romance.

Disc Five

Coppin’ Out – Mac and Joey go undercover at a high school to find out who’s responsible for vandalizing homes in the area. The investigation takes a sour note when the prime suspect turns out to be the son of Fuller’s new girlfriend.

Under the Influence – Mac goes undercover with a group of devil worshipers who are suspected in the beating up and murders of homeless people. He becomes enchanted with their beautiful leader who seduces him.

Crossfire – After Hoffs does decoy duty in a prostitution sting, she faces a civil suit by the man who was arrested. His lawyer turns out to be Hoffs’s boyfriend’s spiteful ex-wife.

Wasted – When a high school football player dies of a heart attack but no steroids are found in his system, Mac is sent in undercover to see if there’s something new going around the school. Instead, he uncovers toxic waste being dumped into a nearby stream.

Disc Six

Bad Day at Blackburn – After witnessing a friend have a heart attack, Fuller decides to put himself on a case. Along with Mac and Hoffs, he goes into a high school where there have been reports of extortion by the students, and a teacher was beaten into a coma.

Homegirls – After witnessing a teenage girl murdered in a drive-by shooting, Hoffs infiltrates the street gang she was a part of to find out who the killer was as well as flushing out a possible weapons dealer.

Second Chances – Fuller gets the case of a car theft ring, and the prime suspect is a student Hoffs was working with in the “second chances” program helping troubled juveniles.

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