DVD Review: 21 Jump Street (21 Best Episodes)

In the early ’90s I got huge into Johnny Depp with films like Ed Wood and Dead Man, yet somehow I never got around to checking out 21 Jump Street so I was excited to get a nice introduction with this best of collection to finally see what it was all about.

Jump Street follows a group of younger looking cops who go undercover in high schools to stop everything from drug dealers to rapists and everything in between. The star of the show was a very reluctant Johnny Depp who didn’t want to be on the show and only agreed cause he thought it wouldn’t last more than one season. He plays Officer Tom Hanson and works with Officer Doug Penhall (Peter DeLuise), Sergeant Judy Hoffs (Holly Robinson) and Sergeant Harry Ioki (Dustin Nguyen). Initially they are under the charge of Captain Richard Jenko (Frederic Forrest), but after his death early on in the series, Captain Adam Fuller (Steven Williams) took over.

Each episode has a pretty standard formula. The trouble for that episode is introduced, a team (usually including Hanson) are sent into a school to figure out what is going on and who is guilty and save the day. Sure there were exceptions to this rule, but generally that’s how it goes down.

The show had a pretty impressive collection of guest stars that went on to bigger and better things throughout the run of the show and several of those episodes are highlight her including: Josh Brolin as a preppy coke head, Jada Pinkett Smith as gangster, Brad Pitt as a football player, Christina Applegate as a promiscuous girl in a mental hospital, Jason Priestley as a punk, Shannen Doherty as a drug user and Vince Vaughn. Several of these episodes seem only to be included only because a celebrity is in the episode, not because the episode is particularly good.

The most interesting part of this set is that even within these “21 best episodes” you can see the trajectory of the show. The early episodes a very strong and thoroughly entertaining and as the seasons pass the quality gets less and less. You get two Richard Grieco era episodes and three from the fifth season after Depp left the show and was replaced by Michael Bendetti. There are even a few jump-the-shark episodes included here. Such as when Hanson and Penhall go down El Salvador to find Penhall’s wife and the strange episode where all the cops tell their version of the same story all with a different film theme such as Kung Fu, Silent, Bond, Film Noir and Horror.

21 Jump Street is definitely a show that faded away instead of burning out, but when it’s good, it’s great! The early episodes really surprised me and were way better than I ever thought possible. And most of that is certainly due some great performances by a young Johnny Depp, but he wasn’t the only good part of the show. It’s just a shame the later episodes fizzled out.

The episodes are presented in a full screen aspect ratio. Sound is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The episodes looks very good for their age. The sound is solid as well. Great presentation.

There are no special features.

As I started the season 1 episodes I was really excited and surprised at how good they were. As the seasons went on the and the quality dropped by excitement for the show lessened, but it was still pretty entertaining. 21 Jump Street wasn’t a perfect show, but this is a solid selection of episodes if you’ve always been curious about checking it out but didn’t want to commit to watching the entire series.

Mill Creek Entertainment presents 21 Jump Street: 21 Best Episodes. Created by: Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell. Starring: Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson, Peter DeLuise, Dustin Nguyen, Steven Williams and Richard Grieco. Running time: 967 min. on 3 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: March 6, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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