Rewatching 21 Jump Street! Instead of the usual crooks and drug dealers, this week our heroes take on… God? It’s season two, episode eighteen, “Brother Hanson and the Miracle of Renner’s Pond.”
What’s goin’ down: At a school with a huge fundamentalist student population, there’s a break-in, and someone burns a bunch of biology textbooks. Further, a controversial teacher insists on teaching Creationism instead of evolution.
Here’s Hanson: Hanson goes undercover as a Christian “thumper,” (their words, not mine) only to find the God-versus-science thing leading to fistfights in class. It’s the spiritual teacher, though, who’s really causing all the trouble by insisting on teaching religious dogma in class.
Penhall’s prerogatives: Penhall offers some comic relief by doing his “Southern TV preacher” shtick.
Undercover blues: The case gets further complicated when one teen, Cameron, is believed to be a small-town Jesus, having miraculously come back from the dead after falling into a frozen pond. He’s conflicted, to say the least, about his newfound status as “The Miracle Boy.”
Goin’ to the chapel: The subject matter has Hanson and Capt. Fuller sitting down for a “Do you believe in God?” heart-to-heart chat.
Torn from today’s headlines: The ol’ “Creationism versus evolution” debate is one of those things that’ll never go away. The related prayer in school thing gets a mention as well.
Trivia time: Gregory Itzin, who played a wishy-washy U.S. President on 24, plays a similarly wishy-washy high school principal.
At one point, the teacher holds up a book from the school library, saying it encourages students to, “lie, cheat, back-talk, and curse.” The book isn’t mentioned by name, but the all-red cover gives it away as J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.
Jumpin’ or not? This one is so much talking about the issue that the basics, like, say, the plot, gets tossed by the wayside. Still, the rebellious teacher attacks evolution with some wry humor and an overall “screw the establishment” attitude, which made him kind of awesome. I don’t think this is what the creators intended, though. The episode is way too issue-heavy and, dare I say, preachy, but it’s also kind of fun, so I’ll say it’s jumpin’.
Next week: High times.
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