21 Jump Street: The Complete First Season

Back when Fox was a "coat hanger network" (meaning you needed a coat hanger on the back of your TV to receive it), they had programs like The Tracey Ullman Show, Married…With Children and wait for it, Joan Rivers. Then, from out of nowhere came this show where teens were cops — how cool. But the thing is, they weren't really teens, they were just baby-faced adults who couldn't cut it in the real police force. 21 Jump Street was a very cool show for its time, largely in part due to Johnny Depp (as Tom Hanson), a police reject sent to work undercover in high schools. However, the release of the show's first season on DVD unfortunately fails to live up to the glorious memories of 17 years ago. Shot on location in Vancouver (but as always, based in the U.S.), the show tackled serious problems teenagers could face, like drug addiction, peer pressure, vandalism, theft, sex abuse, student loan sharks, punk rock, hostage situations and, um, pyromania? Wait a second. Okay, so maybe these are exceptional circumstances, but wasn't Johnny Depp a hunk? One area where the show went right, however, was in its cast. 21 Jump Street chose to use a mix of races to represent the characters and prove television didn't need to be black or white. Besides Depp, who played a by-the-book square (who remembered it that way?), there was Penhall (Peter DeLuise, Dom's son), the fun-loving, practical joker, Hoffs (Holly Robinson) the happenin' black girl, Harry (Dustin Nguyen) the boring, quiet Vietnamese-cum-Japanese guy, and Captain Fuller (Steven Williams), the angry black boss who joined after the hippy boss died. The first season also featured some early gigs for soon to be popular actors like Josh Brolin, Blair Underwood and the man, Jason Priestley (whose name is misspelled in the credits), in the episode where Hanson becomes a faux punk rocker. The extras are poor, but not surprising considering Depp wanted nothing to do with this release. There are interviews with the creator and three cast members, which reveal that the show was actually based on a true operation in L.A. Plus: audio commentary by DeLuise. (Anchor Bay, www.anchorbayentertainment.com)