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Home » Culture and Criticism

21 Jump Street: “Bad Influence”

Submitted by on July 12, 2010 – 3:05 PM5 Comments

“Shut Up, Penhall” Count: 1

We open with a much-too-long nighttime sequence in which a Kirk-Cameron-esque kid named Dylan tries every door of Artie’s Deli.He finally gains access to find his little friend Jordy snacking on a bialy and reading a comic book inside.I think they both work there, but it doesn’t really matter.What does matter is that Jordy, credited here as “Scott Schartz,” is better known as “Scott Schwartz,” under which name he played Flick in A Christmas Story before going on to, I shit you not, a career in adult film that included not only talent management (…I know) but also roles in such skin classics as Dirty Bob’s Xcellent Adventure Volumes 35 and 36 and The Wrong Snatch.And if you think that’s fucked up, dig this: he looks about the same age here as he did in A Christmas Story, i.e. eleven, but the day the episode originally aired, he’d just turned nineteen.


Jordy is content with trespassing and perusing a Playboy (typecasting! heh), but Dylan wants to break into the pinball machines and steal the quarters.Jordy points out that the boss will know it’s them.Dylan resorts to the tired carpe diem species of peer pressure, reminding Jordy of “rule number one — sometimes you just gotta go for it!”Fortunately, he’s interrupted by the approach of a grey van outside.The boys hide behind one of the aforementioned pinball machines to watch as the van backs up to an ATM, and masked thieves pile out to break into it.It’s not exactly a finesse job — they’re just ripping open the front of the machine with a power saw and a crowbar as sparks fly everywhere — and the boys watch, transfixed.Jordy suggests calling the cops, but Dylan has a better idea, sounding the deli’s alarm system.The driver of the van calls an audible and the thieves peel out; the boys head over to find the ATM hacked open and stacks of fifties and hundos in plain view.Is that how ATMs rolled back in the day?Because the only time you really see those larger denominations in an ATM nowadays is at a casino.

In any case, Jordy wants to get out of there, but he’s soon brought around to the positive aspects of liberating the cash.Dylan starts grabbing fistfuls of dinero and stuffing Jordy’s jacket with it.The van comes back around to case the joint, and one of the thieves grunts, “Hold it.Those guys aren’t cops.”True — but if you assumed the cops would show up, what did you return to the scene for, dumbshit?The driver guns it towards the boys, who take off on foot.


Fuller is briefing the team. Dylan and Jordy’s parents have reported them missing.Hoffs puts it together that they were last seen in the vicinity of the ATM machine around the time it got ripped off.Hanson goes immediately to the worst-case scenario, griping that if the kids saw the crime, “they could be homicide victims for all we know.”Oy. Hanson. First of all, you’re a cop, so it’s your job to get information beyond “for all we know.”Second of all, maybe try a tone of voice that doesn’t imply that their getting murdered inconveniences you.Third of all, shut your facehole.Penhall points out that maybe they just got scared and went into hiding, “but why be optimistic.”Well, seriously.Anyway, Fuller assigns Penhall and Hanson to track them down.He then mentions that another house in “the Belmont district” got robbed last night, so everyone should keep an eye out for fenced merch from one of those robberies.

Then he gets to our A-plot: a gym teacher at Lincoln High overheard some locker-room gossip about a possible hooker working the school.”Pros in the classroom — an idea whose time has come,” Penhall intones.Shut up, Penhall.Hoffs snarks that it sounds like some shit Penhall would make up, but Fuller’s taking it seriously; Ioki’s to try to get a date with the girl, and, if she’s a prostitute, bust her.Hoffs will “work it from the girl’s side.”The team disperses, with Hanson glooming at Penhall not to get the parents’ hopes up when he calls them.

All four parents have gathered to drink Sanka and look wan and/or bellow at Hanson and Penhall for having babyfaces. Dylan’s dad is incensed that Penhall thinks they might have called their friends before they called home.But Dylan Sr. is out of touch with his son’s daily doings, because when he suggests that the cops ask around down at the Y where the boys play ball, his wife points out that they haven’t done that for a couple of years. Penhall murmurs, “You people have no idea what your kids are up to, do you?”Because nothing convinces parents to cooperate with the investigation like casting aspersions on their parenting.Mrs. Dylan Sr. sighs that they all work full-time, which takes some of the wind out of Penhall’s Sails Of Judging.Dylan Sr. blares that it’s hard enough keeping a roof over their heads, then admits more quietly that they don’t know where the kids are “all the time.””Well, uh, maybe their school can help us,” Penhall says sadly.Hanson patronizes Dylan Sr. with, “I’m sure you’re doing your best, Mr. Taylor,” and they take their leave before anyone notices that there wasn’t enough money in the budget for Jordy’s parents to get any lines.Mrs. Dylan Sr. is sad.

Predictably, we cut to Dylan and Jordy at a fancy hotel lounge, bribing the waitress to ignore their obvious youth and bring them martinis. Jordy freaks out that they’ve spent a lot of their ill-gotten lucre already: “New clothes, pinky rings?” Easy, Jordy Walnuts.Jordy goes on to chastise Dylan for tipping fifty bucks on an order of potato chips (?) before suggesting that they just go home — what if the first set of thieves finds them?Dylan thinks that’s all the more reason to live it up while they still can. Jordy still thinks that “this is nuts,” but is somewhat soothed by booze and boobs.

Gym class.A scene in which Ioki is picked last for basketball goes on for an eternity, but I find myself grateful for the filler, as it gives me time to recover from the sprained ribcage I suffered while laughing at everyone’s shorts.

Cut to Ioki trying to get some intel on the hooker from the other “nerds” on the bench while giving us reams of unwanted information about his thighs.One of the jockstraps who picked the teams tags out — ordering a nerd into the game with the instruction “don’t goof up,” like, this show aired on Fox, no?So why is the dialogue such an Archie comic sometimes? Jockstrap sits next to Ioki and confirms that the pro is “for real,” and he’s got a date with her that night.”You?” Ioki asks, clearly wondering why a guy who comes off like such a big shot needs to pay for it.Jockstrap gets out in front of that question by smugging that “it’s worth it to take a shortcut once in a while.””So,” Ioki says too-casually, “what’s this girl’s name?”

“Lauren Carson” is her name, or so Hoffs reports to Ioki in the hallway, where they make their customary effort to keep their voices down and disguise the fact that they aren’t really students, which is to say no effort at all.A snitty Hoffs doesn’t buy Jockstrap’s take on the situation.Ioki can see spreading rumors that Lauren is “easy,” but doesn’t see why they’d lie about having to pay for it.Agreed; if anything, they’d lie about having gotten a freebie, but anyway, Hoffs insists that it’s just locker-room braggadocio, an attempt to make it “a better story.”Ioki complains that gym class equals humiliation.

Lauren is in the library, reading the classifieds.She’s played by Liane Curtis, who’s probably best known as Samantha’s friend Randy in Sixteen Candles. Hoffs unsubtly invites herself to sit down, and they trade transfer stories, Lauren saying that the school is “pretty cool.”When Hoffs asks what’s up with the real-estate listings, Lauren says her dad just got transferred to Connecticut.Hoffs thinks she must be “bummed,” but Lauren’s psyched for a fresh start, and little-girls that her dad might buy her a horse.No sooner has she said this than some day player Canadians, “Hey, Lauren — interviewing a new candidate for the massage parlor?”Day Player and her friend smirk and walk away as Lauren overacts “crestfallen.”Hoffs asks what that was all about.Lauren advises her to “be careful who you date around here” — the guys expect you to put out, and if you don’t, they say you did anyway.

Ioki comes up to Lauren at her locker and, with maybe 30 seconds of preamble, asks her out.Lauren’s like, way to get to know a person first — no thanks.Ioki persists, though, and despite the fact that Lauren is a pro (spoiler!) and should smell a rat if a new kid invites her out, he manages to charm her into agreeing to a date the next night.

Ioki catches up to Hoffs in the hallway and reports that he scored a date with Lauren.Hoffs still isn’t having the prostitute angle; they’ve both dealt with working girls before, she points out, and asks, “Does she really strike you as one?”Ioki doesn’t know, but guesses he’ll find out.Hoffs goes on a rant about how it’s always the same thing, guys make shit up, she’s easy this, she’s insatiable that, “and nobody, nobody ever stops to think about how it affects the girl.”I think the larger problem is why sexual avidity in a woman is still considered a negative when in a man it’s just presumed, but Hoffs winds up by saying it’s because men keep their brains in their underpants or some damn thing. Ioki is irritated in turn and says they’ll find out for sure tomorrow night.Hoffs is sure Lauren’s just saddled with a bad rep.

Lauren and Jockstrap mack on his front doorstep; then he escorts her inside. Lingering shot of Jockstrap punching in the alarm code. After a stop in a rec room with a better-stocked bar than some of the actual bars in my neighborhood, and a micro-PSA about protection, they go upstairs to Do It. Lauren takes her top off. During the out-making, Jockstrap gets that “I’m about to go in my pants” face, and Lauren tells him to calm down, they have plenty of time: “And you’ve got plenty of money.” Romantic!

Hanson and Penhall dress down the hotel staff for giving two 15-year-olds — aliases “Mr. Steele” (drink!) and “Mr. Bond” — drinks and a room. The manager is only mildly chastened to realize he’s been taken, saying they paid cash and tipped well. Hanson grouses that everyone thinks Jordy and Dylan are dead, but “they’re out auditioning for Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Drink. Penhall’s like, chill out, at least they’re okay. They examine the hotel bill, which leads to some unfunniness with Penhall and 976 numbers that I won’t dignify.

Lauren’s pimp Eddie, who looks like a shop teacher, comes to her house, which she’s not psyched about. She demands her money. He’s like, I never got that kind of ‘tude from your mother: “Two years we were in business, no problems.” Lauren’s incredulous: “A four-hundred-dollar-a-day fix [sic] was no problem?” Lauren thinks her split is too small, then grudgingly reports on the contents of Jockstrap’s house; it’s established, by way of Eddie insulting her work, that Lauren’s real dream is to become a painter. Lauren, miffed, hands over the security code for Jockstrap’s house and tells Eddie not to come back with only $300 next time. He wants to say hi to Lauren’s mom before he leaves, but Lauren slams the door in his face.

Inside, Mom is tucked up in bed, under an afghan whose excessive fugliness only drug abuse could explain. She doesn’t know how Lauren is going to afford a $100,000+ house with money from her “night job.” Lauren grims that she promised she’d get Mom clean, off the streets, “and away from scum like Eddie Malone.” That’s not the promise Mom meant. Lauren non-answers that she shouldn’t worry, they’ll get to Connecticut “before you know it.” ‘Cause ain’t no smack or hookers in the Nutmeg State, just free ponies and art school. Shut up, Lauren.

Locker room. Jockstrap paints his encounter with Lauren as a studly one for him — she tore his clothes off, etc. Ioki confirms his arrangement with one of the nerds, whose parents’ house he’s apparently borrowing for his assignation with Lauren.

Ioki updates Hoffs on Jockstrap’s tale-telling, which sets her off yet again. She storms from her locker to the ladies’ room, where she finds Lauren re-frizzing her hair. Hoffs engages her in Spanish-homework-based entrapment-type conversation. Lauren spins lies about a non-existent happy nuclear family in response, then jets, leaving Hoffs to stare all discouraged into the sink.

Dylan and a reluctant Jordy try to buy a BMW. When that fails, they buy Honda cycles, and the matching doofy attire, instead. “Bring on the chicks,” Dylan leers, because if there’s anything straight girls love, it’s dudes who don’t shave monkey-clinging to each other on the back of a crotch rocket. Cue the wheelie.

Hoffs micromanages Ioki before his “date” with Lauren. Irritated, he offers to handle the bust himself. She apologizes for getting so het up about the case, and explains that, when she first started on the force, she did a lot of vice work — and a male detective spread an analogous rumor about her that took years to correct. Ioki is sorry Lauren “didn’t pan out.” Hoffs shrugs, if she’s dirty, bust her.

After punching in the code at Nerd Friend’s parents’ house, Ioki wants to get down to brass tacks, but Lauren asks for a cold drink so she can scribble down the code and case the joint. Across the street, Hoffs spies angrily as Lauren tests the code. Hoffs heads for a pay phone to get the number for Casa Nerd Friend.

Upstairs in Nerd Friend’s brother’s room, Ioki and Lauren mack; Ioki again tries to talk price, but Lauren doesn’t think she can wait that long. The phone starts ringing; it’s Hoffs, warning Ioki not to bust Lauren yet because she thinks Lauren’s tied to the burglary ring. As Lauren reclines on the bed in a matronly bustier, Ioki awkwards that he just got “the worst headache.” Har.

Fuller is pissed that Hoffs and Ioki didn’t bust Lauren the night before. Hoffs wails that Lauren “was probably raised in the back room of a massage parlor,” which is kind of a leap, but her point is that Lauren never had a chance. Fuller doesn’t think Lauren will turn state’s evidence; Hoffs says that, based on Lauren’s lies, what she really wants is a straight, square life. Fuller will let her try to get Lauren to confess on her own.

Meanwhile, the ATM thieves have gotten picked up; according to their statements, they found themselves 12 grand short after the robbery, which means…oh right, you read the earlier part of the recap. Penhall: defeated. Hanson: irrationally irritated, some more, by having to do his job. He asks Fuller if they can pause the manhunt until Dylan and Jordy run out of money. Nope: they’re still minors and still missing.

Lauren: “A cop?! Well that’s just great! FLOUNCING AWAY NOW!” Hoffs: “Well, then I guess we both lied, ahem.” Lauren tries to say that all women are prostitutes, doing it for mink coats and wedding rings; Lauren just gets hers “up front and in cash.” “That what your mom taught you?” Hoffs snides. Ouch. Hoffs mentions the robberies. Lauren dares her to prove it, stomps into her VW Bug (…I know), and drives away.

Jordy scores a young lady at an arcade by offering himself as her quarter daddy. Dylan picks up her friend with an offer of a ride on the motorbike.

Their parents, meanwhile, are by turns relieved that the boys are safe, and horrified to hear that they stole the money to finance their clichés-of-rich-life spree.

Lauren comes home to find Eddie leaving Mom’s bedroom, and Mom all junked out. Lauren flails herself at Eddie, who throws her to the floor and explains that Mom called him — and that Lauren’s cut from last night’s robbery went into Mom’s arm. He does not, however, explain his professorial corduroy sport coat.

Later, Hoffs comes over. We track past an amateurish Cray-Pa drawing of Mom to the living room as Hoffs, disappointed, says they’ll book Lauren on suspicion of conspiracy: “We’ve got a pretty good case. You’ll probably be sent to a JD school.” Lauren asks what happens if she snitches on Eddie. That’s up to the DA. Lauren is self-hating on the subject of her painting (correctly; it’s traditional to give portrait subjects a chin, honey), then cries about Eddie stringing out her mom. Finally she gives up Eddie’s name. Hoffs agrees to let her stay with Mom and come down to the station later, but she’ll probably have to go into a foster home once Mom stabilizes. Lauren wigs, and Hoffs is like, time to cut the cord and protect yourself for a change. Lauren will call if she hears from Eddie. She just wanted to start over! Glycerine!

Hanson get-off-my-lawns about the bad influence of arcades before he and Penhall talk to the arcade manager, who called Jordy in for changing a hundo for quarters. Jordy is busted, but his new lady friend is okay with it; she got caught shoplifting once. “I’ll wait for you, Jordy!” Hee.

Hoffs and Ioki bust Eddie Malone and his dozen aliases, next to a U-Haul full of stolen goods parked right outside his shithole apartment. He’s almost as bad at keeping a low pro as his jailors. The uniform cop lets him sleaze at Hoffs that she’d make a good hooker before wrangling him into a squad car. Hoffs and Ioki: “Ew, dude.”

They head to Lauren’s house, but she, Mom, and the Crap-Pa sketch have all blown town. Hoffs waxes philosophical about fresh starts.

Hanson and Penhall arrive at the Dylanhaus to find Dylan Sr. drinking a scotch, smoking a cigarette, and inking a movie deal based on the kids’ wacky adventures. Penhall has to familiarize him with the Son of Sam statute. Having punctured Dylan Sr.’s financial-planning bubble, their next stop is the back yard, where the rugrats are wrapping up an interview segment. It seems that after adding everything up, the detectives still can’t account for 5K of the ATM money. So, the boys have already received their probation sentences, Hollywood has come calling, and the police didn’t get around to accounting for the stolen property until now? Even if the PD didn’t have procedures covering that, I’m pretty sure the bank would have followed up, like, daily to find out where the money went. Anyway, the boys unconvincingly deny any knowledge of the missing ducats. Hanson and Penhall take off. Jordy’s like, it’s always possible that they believed us; cut to Penhall saying it’s always possible the boys are telling the truth. Beat. Hanson and Penhall: “Nahhh.” Aaaaaand humorous final freeze-frame?

Worst cops ever, seriously.

Next time on 21JS: contract killing and Sherilyn Fenn.




  • Sandman says:

    Speaking of damage to the ribcage, “as Uta Hagen twirls in her grave like a propeller” is my new favourite tag ever.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Oh, Jordy. From A Christmas Story to porn? At least we know now what that duck was smiling at.

    I remember this one! Especially the end, where Lauren and her mom take off, and I thought that was sooooo cool and open ended and deep. God, I was a sheltered child.

    Ioki, I can see right up your shorts leg! And I am grateful! Thank you!

  • Kriesa says:

    I’m pretty sure that I would never have learned that bit of Christmas Story trivia without this recap. I’ll have to save that up to mention during the next TNT marathon.

  • Georgia says:

    If for the next TN Read-along you read David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster, you’ll get to read about Wallace hanging out with Scott Schwartz at a porn convention.

  • Jaybird says:

    @Georgia: “Get to”? Heh.

    Oh, MAN I love 21JS recaps. I love them like chocolate. Big-haired chocolate, with 4 layered sets of shoulder pads.

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