Saturday, January 16, 2010

Blog DVD Review: 21 Jump Street - The Complete First Season (1/19)

We won't cover the final day of the TCA winter press tour for cable, since it really is short and nothing notable.

Welcome to our weekly Saturday Blog DVD Review and it's our first one of 2010. Today we take a look at Mill Creek's 21 Jump Street - The Complete First Season. I know this series came out on DVD from Anchor Bay, but now Mill Creek is re-releasing the series. Johnny Depp leads his band of agents in the special Jump Street division by going undercover to infiltrate local schools to put a stop to crime and keep students safe from corrupt influences in this '80s hit! See skees53's Blog DVD Review of 21 Jump Street - The Complete First Season:

21 Jump Street - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek, $14.99) contains all 13 episodes of the freshman season of the series about a special group of undercover agents going undercover as high school freshmen to put a stop to crime in schools. The Jump Street division, a group of youthful looking officers posing as high school students, are lead by Officer Tom Hanson (Johnny Depp in his earliest acting days) deals with some of the most difficult issues facing high school students including alcoholism, hate crimes, drugs, racism, abuse, and sexual promiscuity. The Jump Street division is made up of a very diverse group of officers, including Officer HT Ioki (Dusting Nguyen), Officer Judy Hoffs (Holly Robinson Peete), Officer Doug Penhall (Peter DeLuise), and Captain Adam Fuller (Steven Williams). The series was never shy of the tough issues, handled the controversies in each and every episode. The series was co-created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell, and debuted in April 1987 on Fox, being among the first series to air on the network.

In the series pilot, "21 Jump Street Chapel," the Jump Street division must go undercover to find a violent drug dealer while rookie officer Hanson has to prove that he is worthy of his badge to a veteran officer. Bill Jayne guest stars in "America, What a Town," where Hanson has to investigate a car theft ring. Josh Brolin guest stars in "My Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades," where an investigation into a student's death may uncover that the student was also raped. In "Worst Night of Your Life," a girl's school may not be full of little angels when Hoffs has to go undercover to investigate a series of arsons. A teacher's car is pipe-bombed in "Gotta Finish the Riff."
Hanson and Penhall are undercover investigating drug dealers in "Blindsided" when a student asks Hanson to assassinate somebody. A possible loan shark operation is investigated in "Next Generation." In "Low and Away," the Jump Street division is assigned to protect a student in the witness protection program. It's an full blown underage pornography investigation in "16 Blown to 35." Jason Priestley guest stars in the season finale, "Mean Streets and Pastel Houses," where the division must investigate some houses being vandalized.

The packaging for this set very likely ranks as one of the worst designs that I have ever seen. When I first saw the package, I was impressed with the effort to create professional looking artwork (it is nothing special, but it is professional looking), but when I opened up the case (a double-thick keep case), I found two black paper sleeves containing the discs. Yes, two black paper sleeves. The sleeves are secured in the case so that they don't just float around, but it is still one of the worst designs that I have ever seen. If that isn't bad enough, the paper sleeves are very tight, and it is difficult to pull the discs out of them. It appears that several other Mill Creek titles released recently have this same packaging style, which is a shame because some older Mill Creek releases that I own have more standard packaging. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, and Disc 2 contains episodes 8-13.

The menus on the set are very basic, but professional looking, with the main menu having the opening theme music playing and the series logo in the background, with options of Play All and Episode Select. When you choose Episode Select, you get a menu that is designed to look like a page from a yearbook with all of the episode titles. The closing theme music plays on this menu. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately without any other menus, although chapters are placed throughout each episode.

The video and audio quality on this set is, to put it lightly, below average. It appears that the episodes were taken from some poor quality videotape transfers, with the biggest issue being pixelation. It isn't quite so bad on a smaller TV, but if you put it on a 50 inch LCD TV, it looks terrible. The audio sounds fine, although it isn't very clear at times and sounds very dull. Unfortunately, the episodes are not closed-captioned, which is a shame because the episodes were closed-captioned on the previous release from Anchor Bay.

The series originally used a lot of music, and it should be no surprise that at a $14.99 MSRP, most of it has been replaced in this set. Some of the runtimes of the episodes themselves are an issue of concern, as they vary widely, anywhere from 44 minutes to 48 minutes. It is very likely that some scenes are missing, but I am unable to confirm that for certain. Runtimes for each episode are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. Jump Street Chapel, Part 1 (45:57)
2. Jump Street Chapel, Part 2 (44:45)
3. America, What a Town (47:55)
4. Don't Pet the Teacher (46:43)
5. My Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades (45:57)
6. The Worst Night of Your Life (45:23)
7. Gotta Finish the Riff (47:01)

Disc 2:
8. Bad Influence (46:32)
9. Blindsided (47:07)
10. Next Generation (47:03)
11. Low and Away (47:11)
12. 18 Blown to 35 (47:05)
13. Mean Streets and Pastel Houses (47:04)

The set contains no special features at all, unlike the previous Anchor Bay release. Still, at $14.99, I didn't really expect to find any, but perhaps some promos from the original airing would have been nice to see, as those are usually easy to get without inconveniencing anybody.

I enjoyed watching the episodes on this set, but make no mistake, this set is by no means an award-winning set. To be fair, I don't blame Mill Creek Entertainment for the flaws in the set (aside from the poor packaging), in fact, I think that Mill Creek did fans of the series who want to see it on DVD a service by licensing it and releasing it. I have a feeling that other studios passed on this series due to the quality issues, and Mill Creek saw it as an opportunity to release it themselves. Mill Creek has always been a company that releases low-budget sets at a low price, but at the same time, they've always had the ability to make the best of each and every set that they release.
Fans of the series will be disappointed by this set, but unless Stephen J. Cannell Productions gets their act together and releases masters to some company that are not like this, this is the best we will ever be able to see. The problems do not fully take away from the enjoyment of the series, but it is a slight hinderance, and sadly, I doubt that any future releases will be any better. But at the very least, this set is a way to enjoy a great series that doesn't currently air on TV and isn't available in a better form on DVD.

-- Reviewed by skees53
(2/5 stars)

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New on DVD/Blu-ray (April)

Barney Miller - The Complete Seventh Season Frasier - The Complete Series What's Happening!! - The Complete Series The Jeffersons - Season Seven Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Second Season

04/07 - Barney Miller - The Complete Seventh Season
04/07 - The Brady Bunch - The Complete Series
04/07 - The Crazy Ones - The Complete First Season
04/07 - Frasier - The Complete Series
04/07 - King of the Hill - The Complete 9th Season
04/07 - King of the Hill - The Complete 10th Season
04/07 - 1600 Penn - The Complete Season 1
04/07 - Wanda at Large - The Complete First Season (WBShop.com)
04/07 - Wilfred - The Complete Season 4
04/14 - Growing Pains - The Complete Fourth Season (WBShop.com)
04/21 - What's Happening!! - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
04/28 - I Love Lucy - I Love Mom Edition
04/28 - The Jeffersons - Season Seven
04/28 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites: Season 5
04/28 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Second Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, April 26

The Simpsons - "Peeping Mom" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Bart lies about being involved in a bulldozer crash, so Marge decides to follow him everywhere until he confesses. Meanwhile, Homer ignores Santa’s Little Helper when Flanders gets a new dog.

Bob's Burgers - "Itty Bitty Ditty Committee" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
Gene starts a band with Tina, Louise, Rudy, Peter and Daryl, only to be kicked out and left on his own. After declaring that he will never play his Casio again, Tina and Louise join forces to help Gene rediscover his love of music. Meanwhile, Linda deals with a horrible armpit rash that has everyone disgusted!

The Simpsons - "The Kids All Fight" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Homer gets an old film roll developed, the family takes a trip down memory lane to see the origins of how Bart and Lisa first started fighting with each other.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "AC/DC" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
After Jake injures himself on a case, Terry forces him take time off and rest -- something Jake doesn’t know how to do. Across town, Holt and Rosa try to avoid intimate conversation during a double-date with their significant others.

Family Guy - "Roasted Guy" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Peter befriends a group of mean girls after his feelings are hurt when his so-called friends decide to “roast” him. Lois, all too familiar with the gossipy nature of women, tells Peter they are probably talking about him behind his back, and Peter soon discovers that Lois may be right.

The Last Man on Earth - "The Tandyman Can" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
The cul de sac decides to have a re-election for the President of the United States.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 27) (All times ET unless noted)

Monday, April 27

  • Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/30 Rock) - Watch Jane on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Henry Winkler (Happy Days/Arrested Development/Out of Practice) - Henry visits Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Kevin Pollak (Mom/Work with Me) - Kevin is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Tom Rhodes (Mr. Rhodes) - Tom appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Cedric the Entertainer (The Soul Man/The Steve Harvey Show) - Cedric stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • NeNe Leakes (The New Normal) - NeNe chats on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory) - Kunal drops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men/The Famous Teddy Z) - Jon appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 1am on BET.
  • Casey Wilson (Marry Me/Happy Endings) - Casey is a guest on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 1am on BET.
  • Mo'Nique (The Parkers) - Mo'Nique joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT. She sets the record straight on the Hollywood controversy and the important life change that helped her lose 100 pounds on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
  • Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP) - Keke chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Penelope Ann Miller (A Minute with Stan Hooper/The Popcorn Kid) - Penelope chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. She talks about her latest role in ABC's American Crime on HuffPost Live at 2pm.
  • Cristela Alonzo (Cristela) - Cristela guest co-hosts The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.