21 Jump Street is the headquarters for a squad of police officers who specialize in investigations relating to young people. Each of the Jump St. personnel was selected for their ability to pass for high school or college students, allowing them to operate undercover in areas where it is difficult for regular police officers to blend in unnoticed. Written by
Marg Baskin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Johnny Depp had always been Patrick Hasburgh's first choice to play Tom Hanson, but Depp turned the role down. Jeff Yagher was then cast as Hanson, and filming for the pilot began. But FOX was unhappy with his performance, and halted production after three weeks. FOX wanted Josh Brolin for the role, but Hasburgh wanted to offer the role to Depp again. This time, Depp accepted the role, and Yagher's scenes were re-shot. See more »
Throughout the first season Hanson repeatedly says "tail" when
his mouth obviously says "ass." This was a post-production change in response to network censorship, who thought the word "ass" was inappropriate. See more »
It took another 20 years, another generation, before we were ready for another cop show with young people as undercover cops dealing with crime and other social issues, but where Mod Squad left off in the Sixties, 21 Jump Street took the ball and ran with it in the Eighties.
Personally I think 21 Jump Street was a much better show. It certainly had at least one cast member who became a mega star in Johnny Depp. When Depp left the show, it sputtered on for a while, but ultimately died when other regulars left as well.
I might not agree with all of Johnny Depp's opinions, but I certainly have enormous respect for his artistic vision. He was good, he was very good as Officer Tom Hanson in 21 Jump Street, but he left at what turned out the right time for him before he was trapped as a juvenile teen idol forever and created one fantastic body of work as one of the best players around. He knew what he was capable of back in the day and the rest of us know it now too.
I was surprised that Dustin Nguyen didn't break out from 21 Jump Street as well as a big star. He should have had a great career as an oriental leading man, he had the looks, talent and definitely the martial arts skill.
In a way the Sixties handed off to the Eighties in the person of original captain of the Jump Street program, Frederic Forrest. He was one weird dude as the hippie type captain, a real refugee of the tune in, turn on, drop out generation. The character didn't work, so he was quickly dispatched and Steven Williams came on board as the new captain and a more traditional police authority figure.
You can see a lot of future stars in 21 Jump Street, Jason Priestley and Brad Pitt did episodes back in the day. I liked the stories very much, the series regulars were as human and as flawed as some of the kids they were dealing with.
I wish it had lasted longer, but maybe if Johnny Depp had stuck with it longer we might never have seen Captain Jack Sparrow.
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