Rewatching 21 Jump Street! Things get dark and serious despite this episode’s title, “My Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.”
What’s goin’ down: A bunch of partying rich boys get a girl drunk, and she’s found dead the next morning. Hanson and Penhall go undercover at a posh private school to spy on the suspects.
Here’s Hanson: Hanson thinks he’ll fit right in at prep school, returning to his conservative, straight-laced roots, but he doesn’t fit in as well as he thinks. The other guys dismiss him as a nerd.
Penhall’s prerogatives: The rough n’ tumble Penhall has no problem fitting in among the preppies, even though they’re not his crowd. It’s survival of the fittest among the grossly affluent, and that puts Penhall in his element.
Undercover blues: To maintain cover, the department rents out a fancy house for Hanson to stay in, so he can invite the rich kids over after school. He’s almost blown when one preppie hoodlum knew the house’s former owner.
Goin’ to the chapel: Captain Jenko makes a reference to the “suits” downtown who are threatening to cut Jump Street’s budget and even shut the place down. This will go on to be a recurring subplot throughout the series.
Torn from today’s headlines: Before there was the 1 percent versus the 99 percent thing, there was the ‘80s excess/Wall Street thing. The rich boys are into all kinds of crime – drugs, murder, bribery, smuggling, prostitution, you name it. We’re told they can get away with it all just because of how stinking wealthy they are. Meanwhile, the episode’s title is a reference to “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” by Tim Buk 3, which, as we all know, is the greatest song ever.
Trivia time: Look, it’s Josh Brolin! The Goonie-turned-Jonah-Hex guest stars as one of the ultra-rich bad boys. Brolin originally auditioned for the Hanson part in the pilot. He didn’t get it, and this role was his consolation prize. There are a couple of other familiar faces as well. You might remember Mitchell Anderson as Doogie’s doctor friend from Doogie Howser MD. He’s actually quite good as the evil preppie, and I wish he would have done more villain roles. The victim’s brother is played by John D’Aquino of Cory in the House and SeaQuest DSV. (He was the morale officer on SeaQuest. Just what is a “morale officer” anyway? Because on SeaQuest, it meant “guy who makes a lot of jokes.”)
Jumpin’ or not? The episode ends on a scarily dark note, in which a villain receives the ol’ ironic punishment. Then it cuts to one of show’s infamous PSAs, in which the actors discuss how to do a corny anti-drug PSA while still maintaining their cool. That’s kind of the episode in a nutshell, which doesn’t know if it’s supposed to be all stylish or deadly serious. The guest stars make it worth watching, but just barely. Jumpin’.
Next time: Schoolgirls gone wild!
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