Tag Archives: Johnny Depp

U2 Jump Street: Before “Friends”

Penhall & HansonWith 22 Jump Street opening last weekend I thought it would only be appropriate to open up the digital archives and take a look at the source text, the original TV series, the pre-meta, pre-spoof, sincere-to-a-fault 21 Jump Street. And when thinking about what to write about I was surprised to learn that I never spoke about one of the most vivid memories of 21 Jump Street from my childhood, something that has stuck with me for decades, even if I wasn’t sure it was real until I just confirmed it. Something that, as a consequence, always bothered me about Friends. And that is the use of U2’s “With or Without You.”

It was easy to think that I had made it up. My memory said that the series on the fledgling Fox network once featured an episode in which Officer Doug Penhall (the incomparable Peter DeLuise) travels to El Salvador to locate his missing wife (in my recollections, however, it was not El Salvador – I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know that El Salvador existed at the time – I just had a vision of Penhall going to some Spanish-speaking place, or, perhaps, due to the outbreak of the first Gulf War during that time, the Middle East somewhere). And I recalled that the emotional climax was set to “Without or Without You,” a song that I hadn’t put in context yet, by a band I wouldn’t really be aware of until they had a pretty popular video from the Batman Forever soundtrack. But that couldn’t have actually happened right? This the show in which Johnny Depp goes undercover as a high school student to break up an amateur weed-dealing ring, in which Peter DeLuise was still somehow eligible for the varsity football team, in which Holly Robinson-Peete cornered the market on denim. So there couldn’t have been an episode in which Penhall and Hanson get embroiled in a Latin American revolution, right? With machine guns and rebel armies and jungles and explosions? Nah. In which Penhall grieves over his dead wife at her makeshift grave? No. No way. Now an episode in which Hanson is afraid to share chocolate milk with an HIV-positive student? Sure. Richard Greico’s Booker getting super high and then absolutely dominating on the schoolyard basketball court? I’ll buy that. But not an epic, emotional, tragic trek through a Latin American nation in turmoil set against the most moving and gut-wrenching song from the Irish Beatles (before the pomposity and pretentiousness of later fare like “Beautiful Day”). We think not.

But it was real! Sure, if you look up that episode now – “La Bizca” (translation: “the cross-eyed”) – and watch on Hulu, or view it on your complete series DVDs (which I know you have), the song has been replaced with some generic stock music. To be fair, it’s amazing that they were able to use it for the original broadcast in the first place, so it would be greedy to expect to fire up your Amazon Prime and still hear the strains of The Edge’s guitar. But, thanks to some intrepid, heroic YouTube users, the original version exists (taken from what we think was a German broadcast, naturally), and it can be seen in its original glory, the way that Bono never intended because he probably didn’t know that 21 Jump Street was a thing.

And when we say “its original glory” we also mean before “With or Without You” was usurped and recontextualized by Friends when Ross and Rachel couldn’t agree on the terms of a “break.” Years after “La Bizca” we remember watching Rachel stare out her fake window in her fake NYC apartment as fake snow fell down and we were immediately bothered by this song being appropriated as the soundtrack to their not-really-star-crossed romance. These two selfish, self-obsessed, entitled yuppies let a little fight and a copy shop girl get between them, and they have the audacity to proclaim this as their theme song, the anthem to their dysfunctional, overwrought, will-they-or-won’t-they romance? That, we recall then and recall now, was very upsetting. The emotional depths of “With or Without You” should be reserved for a Doug Penhall traveling halfway across the world only to learn that his wife has perished in the midst of a brutal civil war, not for a fashion buyer and a whiny guy with a monkey who break up after every petty squabble. It’s an insult to “With or Without You,” and its an insult to the late Marta Penhall. Would you use Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to accompany Phoebe giving birth to her brother’s triplets? No, you wouldn’t. And this was arguably worse.

And when we say “its original glory” we also mean the manner in which “With or Without You” was used in the television series versus how it might be used in the movies; which is to say without any trace of irony, but instead just dripping with earnestness. The polar opposite of 21 Jump Street the movie (and its sequel), 21 Jump Street the show was hyper self-serious. Sure, you don’t have a series with Peter DeLuise at the forefront and not have your fair share of yuks, but the show did not allow for any degree of winking or self-parody, any even vague allusion to its absurdity. Racism in high schools and a Vietnamese extortion ring and a clown kidnapping his grandson and revolutions in El Salvador, this was never played for laughs, but for very special episodes at best, didactic social commentary at worst. But good or bad, the original 21 Jump Street was committed to the integrity of these stories, and that probably goes a long way towards explaining why Johnny Depp was so eager to flee the Jump Street chapel. It wasn’t the best show – not by a long shot – and it didn’t always do a great job of tackling the big issues – again, not by a long shot – but you can’t say they didn’t aim high. And if their aim wasn’t true – and it usually wasn’t – their intentions were.

Much like, you might argue, a little rock band out of Dublin.

 

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Count Bleh, Jump Streets Ahead, Must See TV, Nostalgia Corner, The Big Screen, Tyranasaurus Sex

America’s Fastest Growing Quiz Senstation: Depp or Stewart?

Kristen Stewart has long been famous for acting with her hair (both on-screen and just when visiting Regis).  Johnny Depp has also been no slouch when it comes to fondling his follicles, especially during his formative years on 21 Jump Street when the serious story lines and/or laughable dialogue elicited some legitimate hair wringing.  With the recent news that Stewart is the highest paid actress in Hollywood and the equally recent news that Depp has split with his long-time girlfriend (and mother of his children) Vanessa Paradis, it seemed fitting to pair these two mane attractions together in a new quiz game.

And now, we  proudly present, the very first Depp or Stewart?: 

Find out the answer after the jump!

Leave a comment

Filed under Depp or Stewart?, Jump Streets Ahead, Yasmine Bleeth

21 Jump Streets Ahead: Officer Hanson Doesn’t Like Chocolate Milk

Last week dear Jumped the Snark friend Eliot Glazer co-hosted a night of trivia in Brooklyn themed around the two great female-ensemble sitcoms of the late 80s/early 90s – Golden Girls and Designing Women.  In between rounds Glazer and co-host H. Alan Scott played clips from each series, highlighting not just how smart, funny and fresh the shows still are, but also how they weren’t afraid to confront taboo issues of the time, including AIDS and homosexuality.  These serious, socially conscious moments reminded us of another show from that era that wasn’t afraid to push the envelope.  In fact, this show seemed to make taking on controversial issues its main agenda.  And that show was 21 Jump Street.  Yes, it’s wildly different from those double X chromosome comedies above, and does not hold up a fraction as well (we now wonder if it even held up in its time), but, looking back, 21 Jump Street was often going out there on a limb on the nascent Fox Network, bringing uncomfortable, sensitive but relevant issues to the forefront.  We’re going to make an attempt to semi-regularly feature some of these moments, starting right now.

It’s really hard to believe that we were watching this show at six-years-old, first because it’s often slow, melodramatic and pedantic (as was the style of the time), and doesn’t star any cartoon ducks, and shouldn’t hold a six-year-old’s attention,  and secondly because it frequently contains a great deal of mature content, an amped up after-school special on five-hour delay (but compared to Silk Stalkings, which we began watching regularly a couple of years later, this was Green Acres.  Also, good parenting, Mom).  Even if an episode didn’t tackle a controversial issue of the time, it probably involved some kind of drugs and/or violence, or why else would Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise go undercover as the McQuaid Brothers?  But the show frequently went beyond fake IDs and selling “dope” in the locker room, covering such topics at bigotry, racism, bullying, child abuse, class warfare and, in one single episode, HIV-AIDS and suicide.

In that episode, “A Big Disease with a Little Name,” Officer Hanson (pre-Jack Sparrow Johnny Depp and our first man-crush) is tasked with protecting Harley, a teenager with AIDS who continues to attend his high school despite protests from local parents and the hostile atmosphere fostered by his fellow students (also, unsurprisingly, Harley has an affinity for motorcycles).  Hanson isn’t afraid to sit at the same table as the kid, unlike much of the student body, but he’s not exempt from the same kind of prejudice, fear and ignorance, as we see when he declines Harley’s offer of chocolate milk.

But, as was often the case, 21 Jump Street functioned as an educational tool, teaching us there are three ways to contract HIV, and chocolate milk is not one of them.  And, as also was often the case, by the end of the forty-four minutes Hanson not only learned the lesson but took it to heart.

We don’t actually remember this episode from our childhood – perhaps it didn’t get much syndication play – but we do know we weren’t afraid of a little chocolate milk.  Maybe we have 21 Jump Street to thank for that.*

*Probably not.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Golden Girls, Jump Streets Ahead, Makes You Think, Mancrush

We’re Not Too Old to Laugh at the Word “Chub”

We caught this clip from The Talk while waiting on line at the bank last week.  Sometimes the good stuff just finds you (around the 30-second mark): 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Also, BIG TIP: buying pretzels in bulk is cheaper.  Mind.  Blown.

You know what would be terrible?  Being the kids in America’s Cheapest Family.  Misery.

Sidenote: do you think that 20 years ago it was Holly Robinson Peete and Leah Remini‘s goal to one day co-host a mid-morning all-female talk show?

Johnny Depp:  I want to be the biggest movie star in the world one day, while keeping my integrity intact and cultivating my own personal style.  What about you, Holls?

Holly Robinson Peete: I’d like to ask someone the best way to buy bananas.

OR:

Mario Lopez:  Someday I’m going to be one of the hardest working men in Hollywood, hosting a dance show on MTV, a syndicated celebrity news magazine, as well as the occasional beauty pageant.  After I star in a Greg Louganis biopic, of course.  How about your Mark?

Mark-Paul Gosselaar:  Oh, well, I’ll take a brief respite after this, then work on a string of shows with acclaimed TV vets Stephen Bocco and David Milch, grow my hair long again, cut it, and then do a sex scene with Mary-Louise Parker.  Pretty standard stuff.  What about you, Leah?  When this whole Malibu Sands storyline wraps up, what do you want to do?

Leah Remini:  It’d be great to do a show where I’m married to a fat guy.  I think the hot wife-overweight slob husband dynamic is totally unexplored territory.  Then, after that, something about perfume.

Dreams do come true.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Good with Coffee, Jump Streets Ahead, Makes You Think, Saved by the Bell

Breaking Badly: ‘SNL’ Weak Too

Well.  That was that.  We gave SNL the benefit of the doubt after a decent, if lazy, premiere, instead looking forward to the second show of the season as the real test.  And, well, they pretty much failed.

As Alan Sepinwall noted in his tweets, it’s a shame that the show totally wasted Bryan Cranston’s immense talent.  It’s not that he wasn’t in any sketches.  And it’s not that he wasn’t good.  He did everything he was asked to do to the best of his abilities.  The problem was that the material was just uninspired, whether it was a retread or a weak stab at something original, it was all very stale.  If this was them trying, then we’d hate to see them phone it in.

More: At least there was What’s Up With That? We never thought we’d say those words.

1 Comment

Filed under Analysis, Bad Humor, Saturday Night Live