Editor’s Note: The following was originally written by Keith Feltenstein.
In our next “Versus” round up, we have something a little different. We have the same franchise, 21 Jump Street, but one is the original TV series, and the other is the movie version! So which was better: the TV series or the movie? We will let you decide! Here is a little something about each version.
21 JUMP STREET (The TV Series)
“21 Jump Street” is an American police procedural television series that aired on the Fox Network, and in first run syndication from April 12, 1987, to April 27, 1991, with a total of 103 episodes. The series focuses on a squad of youthful-looking undercover police officers investigating crimes in high schools, colleges, and other teenage venues. It was originally going to be titled Jump Street Chapel, after the deconsecrated church building in which the unit has its headquarters, but was changed at Fox’s request; so as not to mislead viewers into thinking it was a religious program.
Created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell, the series was produced by Patrick Hasburgh Productions and Stephen J. Cannell Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Executive Producers included Hasburgh, Cannell, Steve Beers and Bill Nuss. The show was an early hit for the fledgling Fox Network, and was created to attract a younger audience. The final season aired in first-run syndication mainly on local Fox affiliates. It was later rerun on the FX cable network from 1996 to 1998.
The series provided a spark to Johnny Depp’s nascent acting career, garnering him national recognition as a teen idol. Depp found this status irritating, but he continued on the series under his contract and was paid $45,000 per episode. Eventually he was released from his contract after the fourth season.
A spin-off series, “Booker”, was produced for the character of Dennis Booker (Richard Grieco); it ran one season, from September 1989 to June 1990. A film adaptation directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller was released on March 16, 2012. Despite featuring a different story with different characters (but similarities in the plot and concept), it is set in the same chronology as the series, with Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson and Peter DeLuise reprising their characters in a cameo appearance. Grieco made a cameo in the 2014 film sequel titled 22 Jump Street.
The series focuses on a group of police officers headquartered at the titular address. These officers are all young and have especially youthful appearances, which allows them to pass for teenagers. Their assignments generally consist of undercover work in high schools or, less commonly, colleges, where they generally investigate drug trafficking and abuse. The show’s plots cover issues such as alcoholism, hate crimes, drug abuse, homophobia, AIDS, child abuse, and sexual promiscuity. Similarly, each problem is often solved by the end of the hour-long episode, giving an implicit moral about the impact of a particular activity. When the show originally aired, some episodes were followed immediately by public service announcements featuring cast members.
21 JUMP STREET (The Movie)
21 Jump Street is a 2012 American action comedy film directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, executive produced by and starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, and scripted by Michael Bacall from a story by him and Hill.
An adaptation of the 1987 television series of the same name by Stephen J. Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh, the film follows two police officers who are forced to relive high school when they are assigned to go undercover as high school students to prevent the outbreak of a new synthetic drug, and arrest its supplier.
It was released theatrically on March 16, 2012, by Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and was both a critical and commercial success. A sequel, titled 22 Jump Street, was released on June 13, 2014. 23 Jump Street has also been confirmed.
In 2005, bookish student Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and popular underachieving jock Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) miss their school prom. Seven years later, the two meet again at the Police Academy and become firm friends and partners on bicycle patrol. They catch a break when they arrest Domingo (DeRay Davis), the leader of a one-percenter motorcycle gang, but are forced to release him after they failed to read him his Miranda rights.
The two are reassigned to a revived scheme from the 1980s (a reference to the television series) which specializes in infiltrating high schools. Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) gives them new identities and sends them to a high school to contain the spread of a synthetic drug called HFS (Holy Fucking Shit). After mixing up their identities, Schmidt and Jenko are enrolled in classes ill-fitting to their personalities. Schmidt gets a lead on HFS from classmate Molly (Brie Larson) and he and Jenko meet the school’s main dealer, popular student Eric (Dave Franco). The two take HFS in front of him to maintain their cover. After experiencing the drug’s effects, the duo discover how much school has changed since they left: Schmidt’s intelligence makes him popular while Jenko’s lax attitude is frowned upon.
Eric takes a liking to Schmidt, who develops a romantic interest in Molly, while Jenko becomes friends with the students in his AP Chemistry class and finds himself becoming more interested in ‘geeky’ hobbies and media. Schmidt throws a party to gain Eric’s trust. During the party Schmidt confronts some gatecrashers and a fight ensues. Schmidt wins the fight when he smashes his assailant over the head and knocks him out. At the party, Jenko’s friends hack Eric’s phone and overhear information about an upcoming meeting between Eric and his supplier, but also catch Schmidt making disparaging comments about Jenko.
The rift between the two grows as their new school life invades upon their official police work. Schmidt and Jenko track Eric to a money exchange with the distributors of HFS – the motorcycle gang from the park – and a chase ensues on the freeway. Schmidt hesitates firing his gun upon the gang members and they return to school arguing, the ensuing fight interrupting the school play. The two are expelled from school and are removed from the Jump Street program.
A stressed and terrified Eric later approaches Schmidt and Jenko retelling the freeway encounter, unaware of their role in it. He recruits them as security for a deal taking place at the school prom. While dressing for the prom they begin to help each other and rekindle their friendship. At the prom, Schmidt finds Molly doped up on HFS. He reveals his true identity and begs her to leave. At the deal Schmidt and Jenko are surprised to find that the supplier is the physical education teacher, Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle). He tells them that he made the drug by accident and started selling it to the students to supplement his teacher’s salary and he caught Eric smoking marijuana and was able to blackmail him into being his dealer.
The motorcycle gang arrives for the deal, but Molly interrupts and starts arguing with Schmidt. The motorcycle gang leader recognizes Schmidt and Jenko as cops. A Mexican standoff ensues in which Domingo orders his men to kill Schmidt and Jenko. Two of the gang members reveal themselves as undercover DEA agents, Tom Hanson and Doug Penhall (Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise reprising their original roles). In the ensuing gunfight Hanson and Penhall are fatally wounded. Mr. Walters and Eric escape in a limo with the money and Molly as a hostage; the gang, Schmidt and Jenko follow close behind in their own limo with Schmidt driving and Jenko shooting his gun from out the sunroof.
As the car chase winds through the city, Jenko creates a homemade bomb using knowledge garnered from chemistry classes and tosses it into the one-percenters’ limo, blowing it up. Mr. Walters pulls over and attempts to flee on foot with Molly as his hostage. He shoots at Schmidt but Jenko takes the bullet in his arm, saving his partner’s life. In response, Schmidt shoots Mr. Walters, unintentionally severing his penis. The duo successfully read Walters his Miranda Rights (in unison). As they arrest both the teacher and Eric, the two cops reconcile their relationship. The two officers are congratulated and reinstated in Jump Street as Dickson gives them a new assignment: infiltrating a college.
With all that said, what do you think is the better version of 21 Jump Street? Would it be the TV show, or Movie? Vote now! Your opinion matters! To hear how we voted, check out episode #27 of the Podcast Unlimited podcast.
Next Podcast Unlimited Poll: Better Captain, Han Solo vs. James T. Kirk