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 (October/November/December)

2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series Hot in Cleveland - Season Five Sgt. Bilko - The Phil Silvers Show - The Complete Series
Family Ties - The Complete Series Happy Days - The Sixth Season The Jeffersons - The Complete Series Mister Ed - The Complete Series Mork & Mindy - The Complete Series

10/07 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Classic Christmas Episodes
10/07 - The Flying Nun - The Complete First and Second Seasons (Mill Creek)
10/07 - The Middle - The Complete Fifth Season (Warner Archive)
10/07 - The Office - The Complete Series
10/07 - The Wonders Years - Season One
10/10 - The Wonder Years - The Complete Series - Read Our Review / The Signature Edition / Seasons 1-3
10/14 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season
10/14 - Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season
10/21 - Married with Children - Seasons 5 and 6 (Mill Crek)
10/21 - The Soul Man - The Complete Second Season
10/21 - Square Pegs - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
10/28 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series
11/04 - Hot in Cleveland - Season Five
11/04 - Napoleon Dynamite - The Complete Animated Series
11/04 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Complete Series
11/11 - Dads - The Complete Series
11/11 - Family Ties - The Complete Series
11/11 - My Favorite Martian - Best of Collection
11/11 - Taxi - The Complete Series
11/11 - Wings - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/18 - King of the Hill - The Complete Seventh Season / The Complete Eighth Season
11/25 - Better Off Ted - The Complete Second Season
12/02 - Happy Days - The Sixth Season
12/09 - Barney Miller - The Complete Sixth Season
12/09 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mister Ed - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mork & Mindy - The Fourth Season / The Complete Series
12/16 - The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis - The Final (Fourth) Season
12/23 - My Favorite Martian - Season Two - Collector's Edition
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Sunday, October 26

  • The Cast of A Different World - The cast of A Different World reunites on Oprah: Where Are They Now? at 9pm ET/PT on OWN.
Monday, October 27
  • Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Amy on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) - Melissa visits Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) - Ray appears on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
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  • Norman Lear (Producer of All in the Family/Sanford and Son/The Jeffersons) - Norman chats on Tavis Smiley on PBS, so check your local listings.
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  • Andrea Martin (Working the Engels) - Andrea stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Nathan Lane (Modern Family/Encore! Encore!/Charlie Lawrence) - Nathan appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Laurence Fisburne (black-ish) - Laurence chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Sean Hayes (The Millers/Sean Saves the World/Will & Grace) - Sean is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) - Sarah dishes about a red carpet celebrity mix up and opens up about the adversity she's facing in her personal life on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
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  • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso drops by The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 2am on BET.
  • Haley Joel Osment (Thunder Alley/The Jeff Foxworthy Show) - Haley Joel will be on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Zendaya (Shake It Up) - Zendaya is a guest on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Kieran Culkin (Go Fish) - Kieran will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.