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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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
21 Jump Street TV.com Page


New on DVD/Blu-ray (March)

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series Bewitched - Seasons 5 & 6 (Mill Creek) Maude - The Complete Series WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete First Season (Shout! Factory) The Donna Reed Show - Season 2 (MPI Home Video)

03/03 - CHiPs - The Complete Third Season
03/10 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series
03/10 - Hey Dude - The Complete Series (Walmart Exclusive)
03/10 - Petticoat Junction - Family Favorite Episodes
03/17 - Bewitched - Season 5 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Bewitched - Season 6 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Bewitched - Seasons 5 & 6 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Maude - The Complete Series (Shout! Factory)
03/17 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete First Season (Shout! Factory)
03/17 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Second Season (Shout! Factory)
03/24 - The Donna Reed Show - Season 2 (MPI Home Video)
03/31 - Silicon Valley - Season 1 (Blu-ray)
03/31 - Veep - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, March 4

The Middle - "Flirting with Disaster" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Frankie finds herself innocently flirting with Axl's hot friend, Finn. But when she makes a not-so-innocent remark about him to her sister, she fears that both Finn and Axl may have overheard her conversation. Meanwhile, Sue is forced to take Brick to a “Planet Nowhere” sci-fi convention, and Frankie's dad, Tag (Jerry Van Dyke), asks Mike to secretly help him study and pass his driver's test so that he can keep his license from being taken away.

The Goldbergs - "Happy Mom, Happy Life" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Dana and Adam have to parent a doll for class, Beverly becomes a grand-smother and compromises their project AND relationship. Meanwhile, Erica is annoyed Barry takes up all her best friend time with Lainey. To get back at him, she joins the JTP and they shun Barry out of the group, but it later backfires for Erica.

Modern Family - "Closet? You'll Love It" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jay and Claire scramble to shoot a Pritchett Closets commercial in response to their competitor’s new and catchy ad, but there might be some creative differences between father and daughter. A peeping-Tom in the neighborhood keeps using a drone to spy on Gloria sun-bathing so Phil, Luke and Manny make it their mission to take it down. Elsewhere, a tone deaf Lily prepares to perform in her school talent show and Cameron is more worried about it than she is, and Haley’s feelings for Andy become even more complicated when he gets rushed to the hospital with appendicitis.

black-ish - "Parental Guidance" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Dre, determined to make up for the no-frills, last-minute wedding he and Bow had, organizes an amazing vow renewal for their 15th anniversary. But when Bow’s hippie-dippy parents, Alicia (Anna Deveare Smith) and the very white Paul (Beau Bridges) show up unannounced -- bombshells are dropped and old disagreements re-ignite between the two families, especially with Pops and Ruby (Jenifer Lewis).

Schitt's Creek - "The Cabin" (Pop, 10:00PM ET/PT)
When Johnny and Moira use the mayor's cabin for the night, Alexis and David throw a party.

Melissa & Joey - "Parental Guidance" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Joe makes the difficult decision to call Felicia when he learns that Dani has broken the rules.

Baby Daddy - "Happy Birthday Too You" (ABC Family, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Ben panics when he forgets his mother's birthday; Emma is injured while in Riley and Tucker's care.

The Game - "Switch!" (BET, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Blue has suspicions about Keira and Malik; Coach Sparks has a heart attack; Chardonnay vows to return to San Diego for revenge.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "The Gang Goes on Family Fight" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
When the gang appears on a nationally broadcasted game show, Dennis does his best to keep the gang's weirdness under wraps.

Man Seeking Woman - "Branzino" (FXX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Josh is convinced that he's finally found his soul mate.

Love Thy Neighbor - "The Ring" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Philip doubts himself; Hattie convinces him to start over and give Linda the ring.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 2) (All times ET unless noted)

Wednesday, March 4

  • Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Aziz on a repeat of The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Danny DeVito (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia/Taxi) - Danny is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. She will also be on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show/The Good Life) - Drew guest co-hosts The Late Late Show at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Felicity Huffman (Sports Night) - Felicity stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She also talks about her new ABC series American Crime on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • Anne Heche (Save Me/The Michael J. Fox Show) - Anne appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Tim Daly (Wings) - Tim visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Vivica A. Fox (True Jackson, VP/Arsenio/Out All Night) - Vivica talks about her experience on The Celebrity Apprentice and tells us what she really thinks about Kenya Moore on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Lauren Graham (The Odd Couple/Conrad Bloom/Townies) - Lauren talks about dating her Parenthood co-star Peter Krause and reveals why one of her co-stars sent stolen property to her house on a repeat of The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Fran Drescher (The Nanny/Happily Divorced) - Fran appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
  • Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) - Holly is a guest on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
  • Cristela Alonzo (Cristela) - Cristela guest co-hosts The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • James Van Der Beek (Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - James and the cast of CSI: Cyber are guests on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Christian Slater (Breaking In) - Christian talks about Archer on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) - Jeremy is a guest on Big Morning Buzz Live on VH1 at 9am.
  • Nick Jonas (Jonas LA) - Nick appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss?/Romantically Challenged) - Alyssa guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.