We know what you’re all asking: ‘The return you say? When was the first time?’ Well for Americans of a certain age the first time was back in the late 80s. 21 Jump Street was a wildly popular teen-centric cop show about a group of adult police officers who were all young looking enough to infiltrate high schools undercover as students to try and break up illegal drug trafficking operations. Of course, the twist was that they would also get caught up in the social structures of the school and all the drama that came with it.
The surprise is that a drama about grown adults interacting socially with unsuspecting high school teenagers was not only seen as quite blasé at the time, considering the minefield it had to navigate, but that it was also played as quite a serious drama. The show itself was arguably most notable for introducing America to the perfectly chiselled cheekbones of the one and only Johnny Depp. Needless to say, heartthrob status was in the bag soon after – it was on the back of Jump Street that he got his first big screen leading man role, starring as the 50s heartthrob Cry-Baby in the movie of the same name. As well as Johnny there were a whole host of big names who passed through the doors of the police headquarters the show was named after: Christina Applegate, Vince Vaughn, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Bridget Fonda, Josh Brolin and the mighty Brad Pitt to name but a few.
We don’t remember the original TV show being shown in the UK (and you can let us know if we’re wrong) but this clip shows that it might have been a great watch, if only for how cheesy yet earnest it all looked (by the way, see if you can guess which character Ice Cube is playing in the new version):
Happily, the producers of the movie remake realised the potential and dived head first into the (R-rated) inappropriate comedy not mined on the show. Now it’s a source of fun that grown men can walk among teenagers and inexplicably not be rumbled. How else could they play it with Jonah Hill in one of the lead roles, ably backed up by the strong jaw of Channing Tatum? The Office’s Ellie Kemper (whom I adore!) and especially Ice Cube also take great comic turns in the movie and it’s rumoured even Johnny makes a welcome cameo in a nod to the past (apparently written by Jonah specifically):
21 Jump Street is released in the UK on March 16th.