"21 Jump Street" (1987)
Mod Squad Of The Eighties
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
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.