21 JUMP STREET
THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Air Date: 1987
U.S. Rating: NR
Canadian Rating: NR
Total Disc Length: 585 minutes
Genre: Crime Drama
Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.33:1 full screen
Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned: Yes
SLP: US $39.98
Release Date: October 26, 2004
Show Rating: /
Starring: Johnny Depp (Off. Tom Hanson), Holly Robinson Peete (Off. Judy Hoffs), Peter DeLuise (Off. Doug Penhall), Dustin Nguyen (Off. Harry Truman Ioki), Frederic Forrest (Capt. Richard Jenko), Steven Williams (Capt. Adam Fuller).
Guest Stars: Jason Priestly, Josh Brolin, Sherilyn Fenn, Blair Underwood.
Created by: Stephen J. Cannell & Patrick Hasburgh
As part of the program line-up of the then-new FOX network, 21 Jump Street became the hot new teenage drama coming out of the ‘80s. The show is about youth crime in high schools and colleges and the group of young undercover cops trying to put an end to each case. These cops are plucked right out of graduation from the police force and because of their youthful appearance, they are prime candidates to be sent back into school to bust kids involved with crime. At 21 Jump Street, these officers gather in an abandoned chapel where they plot to penetrate gangs and befriend students. The series was inspired by a similar program the L.A.P.D. adopted, thus FOX approved the series to be geared at the 11-18 year old audience. As opposed to being a light-hearted series as the many sitcoms already flooding the airwaves, 21 Jump Street dealt with serious issues such as rape, AIDS, suicide and racism, and featured a cast of many who have since progressed successfully in their careers.
There are four officers in this youth crime group: Officer Tom Hanson (Depp) is the most youthful and good-looking of the group. While he may have been a liability on the squad before joining 21 Jump Street, his young rebellious appearance contributed to his success in high schools. His partner is Officer Doug Penhall (DeLuise) – the wise crack of the bunch who believes in muscle over mind but is always reliable to Hanson. Officer Judy Hoffs (Peete) is the only female of the group. She has street smarts and is very educated on student crime. She has experienced the harsh and dark realities of teenage crime during her time on the force giving her a definite edge over the boys. To complete the squad, Officer Harry Truman Ioki (Nguyen) is the quiet one always working “by the book”, but he’s sharply dressed and he can infiltrate the student groups very easily to gain information.
The foursome is led by Captain Adam Fuller. He is a man who is both tough and compassionate, and despite being mistrusted by the unit, he has taken on the duty to lead these officers after their first Captain, Richard Jenko, was suddenly killed by a drunk driver. He leads the group as a father-like figure and cares for his officers in the same manner.
Anchor Bay has brought this emotionally charged undercover cop teenage drama to DVD in a four disc set. Each approximately forty-seven minute episode is presented in its entirety and the set includes the rarely seen two-part premier episode along with other special features. The series was created by Stephen J. Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh. Cannel has produced other hit shows based on drama and action adventure and shaped the television world in the production of these programs. Other works of his include Silk Stockings and The Commish.
The four discs are packaged and divided into two slim line snapper cases tucked into a cardboard cover. The eight page booklet can also be found tucked in there as well.
I am worried that there could be a problem with this set. My screener copy (which resembles the final sealed packaged product) contained two copies of discs 3 & 4 only, each in its respective case. Identical instead of having discs 1 & 2 in one snapper and 3 & 4 in the other, my set included two copies of discs three and four. I hope this is a fluke and is not erroneously packaged like this on retail shelves or I suspect Anchor Bay will have to start setting up a hotline for mail-in trades.
VIDEO QUALITY /
Anchor Bay always amazes me with their high-quality results on DVD. I’m surprised how good the image is on this first season. Aside from the ‘80’s look of a muted colour palette despite the colourful fashion of the day, the resolution of the television show is respectable. The image does have a very digital appearance to it, looking gritty because of compression artefacts or some digital noise from the source. Even though film was used to shoot the series, this disc appears to have come from a composite master. There is evidence of dot crawl in some scenes, but in others where I’d expect it there wasn’t any. Regardless of the source, it does look better than I expected it to and much better than what it’s looked like prior to this DVD set. Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the image has nice contrast in most scenes. Many scenes are at night and black level is very good without sacrificing shadow detail. Overall, the quality is good, but not quite top-notch as I think it could have been.
AUDIO QUALITY /
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio will surprise you when watching this show. The sound is clear and free from distortion, it has a deep soundstage that is fairly narrow but always has a sense of ‘space’ around the dialogue. The ‘80’s music soundtrack is open sounding and may be just a little too hot in the high frequencies, but surprisingly the bass is not weak at all. The soundtrack can pack a good punch every so often. Thankfully, the soundtrack isn’t too tinny and it won’t leave you disappointed.
SPECIAL FEATURES /
Special features in this DVD set include brand-new interviews with show co-creator and stars Stephen J. Cannell, Holly Robinson Peete, Dustin Nguyen and Steven Williams. Each interview is approximately fourteen to seventeen minutes in length as they talk a little bit about themselves, their characters in the show, or in Cannell’s case how the series came to be. They seem very excited to be on this disc to speak and I give them credit for participating in this release. It’s too bad Depp wasn’t available (or maybe he didn’t want to) for an interview. Actors should remember to never forget their roots.
An audio commentary with star Peter DeLuise is also included with the set and appears on disc three. Oddly enough, he doesn't appear in the interview section on disc number four. Still, it's nice to hear from him on this collection.
Don’t forget about the 8 page booklet with liner notes and Colour photos either as you pull the discs out. It’s hiding in there and it may fall out without you knowing.
IN THE END…
21 Jump Street is a nice blast from the past of teen high school crime and drama. I’m happy to see Anchor Bay has chosen to release this series and hopefully they will continue on with future seasons. Future releases of this series could coincide with the movie of 21 Jump Street that is in the works for a 2005 release. The series looks really good aside from that mildly digital appearance that can be corrected for future seasons. I’m hoping that the rest of the world is enjoying all discs of 21 Jump Street instead of just discs 3 & 4 like me. For those of you who are enjoying it I can say you must be impressed to revisit an old friend. It kind of feels like being in high school again, doesn’t it?