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Home » Culture and Criticism

21 Jump Street: "Low and Away"

Submitted by on July 2, 2011 – 1:52 PM13 Comments

"Shut Up, Hanson" count: 7


Generic high-school name du jour: Lincoln

The Plaintive Piano of Our National Pastime As Symbol of Sundered Innocence plinks as high-school pitcher Johnny Hartmann (Patrick Breen, a Hey, It's That Guy! who tends to play ER doctors and snitty defense attorneys) blows it repeatedly past a teammate in batting practice. His coach (Al White, a.k.a. "Second Jive Guy" from Airplane!) is getting a stiffy from Hartmann's fastball, but it's actually Penhall at catcher he's supposed to be assessing. After some pointed exposition about the number of walk-on stars the team has picked up that week, Peter DeLuise shows off for about two wee– er, "Penhall steps into the batter's box and hits-um big flies all over the place to snag a line-up spot."

Credits, in which several scenes from this episode figure prominently (airborne cop car; Hanson and Ioki ducking away from a shotgun blast).

Jump Street. Penhall frats his way through the squad room, high-fiving all and sundry and ending at Ioki, who supplies a Roberto Clemente quotation. Enter Hoffs in a sleeveless appliquéd concoction from Ross Mess for Less and an ill-fitting homburg to interrupt Penhall's thrill-of-the-grass blathering, but not before Penhall gives her shit for being a Cubs fan. Penhall: if she's a Cubs fan, let's assume she's suffered enough. Anyway, he's late for a meeting with "the feds" (who are referred to throughout the episode as just that, "the feds" — no specific agency, no titles like "agent" or "inspector." "The feds." Weird). Because you've watched police procedurals before, you have a good idea already of the pissing match that awaits him in Fuller's office, but here's the short form: "fed" Spencer Phillips (Kurtwood Smith) cops a 'tude (as it were) about Fuller's team, then informs them that Johnny Hartmann is a probable kidnap target — but he can't tell them why, "need-to-know basis," any attempt would happen within the next 72 hours but Phillips can't elaborate on that either, etc. and so on. I get why cop shows go there with the inter-agency bickering, but it's so seldom interesting, and here, it's patently absurd. Wouldn't it help the protection detail to know who, or what kind of person, might abduct the kid? Don't they "need to know" that? And if they can't know that, can't "the feds" just assign their own protection detail?

Fuller acidly asks more or less the same thing. Phillips says they can cover Johnny at home, but at school, they need Jump Street's "juvenile operatives." He snarks off. Fuller puts Penhall on Johnny in practice, and signs Hoffs up for all Johnny's classes.

Johnny rolls up to his house on his bike, teases the stakeout detail out front, and goes in to find his mother mixing something in a melamine bowl. Okay, spoiler: Johnny and his whole family got witness-relocated thanks to his father's mob ties. I tell you this now for two reasons: 1) Johnny's very poor imitation-Sweathog New Yawk accent is about to strobe into our lives for the first time, and 2) they could not have hired a less mob-wife-looking or -sounding actress to play his mother. She informs him in a straight-Winnipeg accent that his dad's in town and wants to talk to his coach, go to the game, blah blah blah. Johnny is sarcastic in response; he thought the two of them could handle "all that" without Dad's help.

Class. The teacher is wearing one of those teal paisley shirts every TV character seemed to have at least one of between 1986 and 1993 (Brandon Walsh appeared in one regularly). He praises Johnny's paper on the Volstead Act (i.e. Prohibition; cute, writers) and rambles on about scholar-athletes. Hoffs takes the opportunity to reach out to Johnny. In the hallway afterwards, Johnny mock-accuses Hoffs of following him, so she drops her customary line about transferring in, and mentions his pitching stats. He gives her shit about being a Cubs fan. Flirting.

Practice. Penhall is sucking wind, literally, during a wind-sprints drill. He apologizes to Coach Jive, who tells him, "Hey, it's baseball, son; you don't have to run more than 90 feet at a time." He then admits they only do running drills because of "tradition." True, no doubt, but: not sure that stance works for a coach at the high-school level. Coach Jive is penciling Penhall into the lineup for the home opener regardless — along with Whitaker (Tom O'Brien), a recent and suspiciously mature-looking transfer from the Poor Man's Sean Penn Academy. Penhall and Whitaker introduce themselves; Coach Jive tells Penhall to spend more time with his pitcher, Johnny, then goes over to the assistant coach to muse aloud how lucky it is that these three students who have all more or less just started at the school just happen to have so much baseball talent.

Penhall and Whitaker walk off the field, fluffing Johnny's arm, and right past Johnny himself, who's inviting Hoffs to dinner. Sorry: "dinnuh." She's surprised: doesn't he have a girlfriend? Not that he can remember. Wait, no: that he can "remembuh."

Weird lingering shot on a poorly spaced sign for the "BOY S LOCKER ROOM." Penhall VO: "You got a problem?" Random VO: "Yeaahhhh. I'm sick of you guys makin' the team." Hee. Cut inside to a scuffle between Penhall and the (now) second-string catcher that's more of a cut scene from the "We Go Together" number in Grease than it is a fight.

Whitaker has Penhall's back to kind of a scary degree until Coach Jive stomps in, and Penhall lies that the argument was over "who has the better fastball, Gooden or Valenzuela." 1. Gooden, but the real argument there is who set his heater off better with those big 12-6 curves; I'd give a slight edge to Vally. 2. Drink! (Not you, Dwight.) The rando is told to take his lineup beefs to Coach Jive directly before CJ announces a postgame shindig in the caf: "Parents, girlfriends — everyone's invited." Poor blocking distinguishes the rest of his remarks, which have to do with welcoming the new players to the team. Then Whitaker is sort of weird towards Penhall, and Penhall gives him the side-eye as he goes over to try to bond with Johnny. Whitaker keeps dropping hints about being from "back east" and how do you like it here, but Johnny is terse in response and blows off Whitaker's hangout invitation; he's got a date with…

…Hoffs. Johnny tells a gooby story about his dad bringing "Scott Peterson" to Johnny's locker to meet him. "From the Yankees?" Hoffs disbelieves — with good reason, as the Yankees have had a Fritz Peterson (the wife-swapper) and a Scott Patterson (the non-famous…whatever he was a few years back), but no Scott Peterson. Johnny's next comment — that "Peterson" dropped the usual platitudes about staying in school and off drugs, but two months later got busted in the Kansas City airport and spent six months in luxury rehab — makes me think it's supposed to be Steve Howe, but Howe didn't pitch for the Yanks until the '90s, and why wouldn't they use his real name in the second place. Doesn't matter; it's an excuse for Johnny to sigh, "Heroes," then start quizzing Hoffs on her name and who she really is. Hoffs either denies that she's not Judy Robinson or just doesn't answer Johnny's questions, but Johnny, without rancor, is like, play it however you want; I know you're a cop of some sort and I know it's about my father. Hoffs says she doesn't know anything about Johnny's father (which, thanks to the diktat from "the feds," is true). Johnny hopes she's telling the truth; he'd like to think of her as "a friendly girl, rather than a nosy cop."

Hoffs drops Johnny off at his house; it's surrounded by black-and-whites. He rushes inside, and his mom is fine, but "the feds" found Whitaker lurking around in the bushes or something and hauled him inside. Johnny confirms that Whitaker is a teammate, and Whitaker says he came to return the glove Johnny left on the bench. "The feds" escort Whitaker out as Johnny makes excuses about how the guys who work for his dad get paranoid, then mutters that he thought he put the glove in his locker. (He did; we saw him put it on a shelf, then struggle to get the non-plumbed door to close fully. Nice bit of business there. Less deft is Johnny neither remembering that when it happened maybe three hours ago, nor getting sketched out by Whitaker not just ringing the damn doorbell.) Hoffs looks annoyed.

Fuller's office. Hoffs is explaining, and Penhall confirming, that she's sketched out by Whitaker; Fuller tells them to keep an eye on him. Nobody mentions that, among other things, Whitaker looks easily 30, or that, if he's going to play for the Lincoln High Tigers, he should really play second, not shortstop. Lou Whitaker? Anyone? Okay then. Fuller calls Ioki and Hanson over and orders them to get Whitaker's transcripts. It's possible Ioki has them hidden in a voluminous pleat of his ridonk Miami Vice suit. Hoffs is heading out of the room when she by-the-ways that Johnny made her. Fuller's like, now you mention this? She says she didn't admit it, or confirm it; Johnny just knew. But, she adds, he seems cool with it — in fact, he seems used to it, and it has something to do with his father: "He kinda let that slip." Fuller shrugs that "Frank Hartmann" doesn't ring any bells — although, if Hartmann fils just transferred in from New York, maybe a jingle of suspicion is appropriate? — and tells Hoffs to stick with Johnny, since it's not like "the feds" will tell them anything. Hoffs and Penhall head out with some banter about the opening-day game…

…and straight into Penhall taking a windy cut at a ball and missing. It's 0-0 in the bottom of the second. Hoffs is in the stands, seated next to a girl with one of the worst hairdos I have ever seen, including at that metal club in Newark my friend dragged me to. In 1990. Endless footage of Penhall hacking and pop-fouling before an infield fly ends the half inning. Johnny takes the mound and throws cheddar for the warm-up and most of the first at-bat before spotting his father (Michael "132 IMDb Credits" Fairman, currently on The Young & The Restless as Patrick Murphy) lurking behind the backstop. Whitaker also notices, and straightens up at shortstop. Johnny's next pitch sails over the batter's head, natch. He takes a minute to collect himself, then skies another one as Hartmann Sr. takes a seat in the stands and smiles creepily at his son.

In the school office, Hanson and Ioki run a short con to get Whitaker's file.

It's 2-1 "Central" in the bottom of the ninth. Lincoln has two men on and Penhall is up. Mike Hargrove at-bats didn't take as long as this one, but after an eternity, Penhall drives in the winning runs. The rest of the team does the pile-on thing…except for Whitaker, who turns to look at Hartmann Sr. Hartmann Sr. in turn looks chastened.

Caf. Generic but affordable Casio plonking. It's uncomfortable between the Hartmann gents, Sr. trying to make small talk, Jr. struggling with the accent that comes so naturally to his father. Judy comes up and tries to help out, but it's still awkward, even more so when Whitaker barges up to introduce himself and his mother (Dorothy Fielding, who I believe did a turn as Allison's mom on Melrose: Original Rayon Blend). Ma Whitaker does the chit-chat thing, but all the while looking at Pa Hartmann like she's trying to get a sneeze to come out. Pa smells a rat, so to speak, and excuses himself; Ma quizzes Johnny in a tight voice about where exactly he comes from "back east," and he's all, the city, I mean Connecticut, I mean we moved around a lot, I mean I ate five bugs.

Elsewhere in the caf, Pa is quizzing Coach Jive about Johnny's college and minor-league prospects, then making CJ swear that he'll look after Johnny baseball-wise should Pa "get in an accident or something." Pa chose Lincoln High for a reason; CJ "will be very well compensated for [his] efforts."

Ioki and Hanson have discovered that Whitaker has no paper trail. Hanson wonders where he came from, then; Ioki expositions that that's what "the feds" want them to find out. Said "feds" have ordered up a no-knock warrant for Whitaker's house.

At said sparsely-furnished house, Ioki and Hanson let themselves in and look around. As Ioki is examining a picture of Ma Whitaker and some guy, they hear a sawed-off shotgun cock. Duck! It's Whitaker, who's shooting every lamp and Betamax player in the place. He makes as if to surrender, then sucker-punches Hanson, and Ioki has to subdue Whitaker with some kah-rah-tay. "Freeze!" Ioki yells, pulling his sidearm. "We're police officers." So is Whitaker. Doy.

At the station, Whitaker is explaining: he paid the woman posing as Ma Whitaker to act like his mother, register him at Lincoln with her electric bill, etc. Ioki reports that "New York Midtown" confirms Whitaker's story — he's a detective named Jacobson, jacket full of valor citations, on two weeks' vacation in Metro City. Hoffs is clearly both betrayed and kind of turned on; Hanson notices this and gives her the Dawson Leery nostrils. Shut up, Hanson. Anyway, Whitaker/Jacobson wants to leave, saying he wants to keep Carmine Terranova safe too, so why can't they all just keep doing what they've been doing, but of course the Jump Streeters don't know who Terranova is. Phillips isn't happy about anyone having this information, but I think I can trust you guys: Carmine Terranova is Frank "Pa" Hartmann. He's a mob guy; confronted with a murder beef, he turned state's evidence, and he's scheduled to testify against Nick "The Iceman" Lucchese in…first two guesses don't count…72 hours. Carmine/Frank/Pa is under heavy protection, but if Lucchese lieutenants can nab Johnny, they can make Frank "forget" his testimony." Viewers have figured out most of these particulars hours ago, but it's worth watching for how condescending Jacobson is to Hanson whenever he pipes up with an answer. Jacobson for president!

Fuller is pissed he wasn't told the details. Phillips grits that Jump Street's assignment is only to keep Johnny safe, and they didn't need to know why. See my previous comment — not that the Mob wouldn't use freelancers, but I think a modicum of demographic information is indicated here. Hoffs wants to know how Jacobson found Johnny, given that he's in witness protection. Jacobson just followed USA Today and waited for a high-school pitching phenom to make himself apparent. He also notes that that sort of research is an area where "you feds aren't very good at this." I'd have to agree, since Phillips — who, it's implied, already knows Jacobson or has worked with him — wonders why Jacobson cares. Jacobson claims he wants to make sure Terranova testifies against Lucchese, but Phillips doesn't buy it — Jacobson is spending his vacation making sure a Mafia sleaze lives three more days? Does he have something on Jacobson, like paying him protection or something? "What's so important about this two-bit scum? Why this one?" "Because this one killed my partner," Jacobson snarls. Wouldn't…that be in Jacobson's file? For…everyone to see, and for Phillips to…already know? And if it's…you know what, forget it.

Phillips gets a phone call telling him a couple of Lucchese's boys have come to town. Jacobson puts his jacket on; he can find them, so is Jump Street going to let him help or what? Fuller's like, fine, go with Hanson. Hoffs and Penhall stay on Johnny. Ioki gets files duty. Jacobson prods Hanson with, "What're you waiting for, a goodbye kiss?" "I can tell this is gonna be a great assignment," Hanson bitches. Well, it's an assignment, Hanson, so howzabout you shut the fuck up and do it.

In a strip bar straight off the set of Xanadu, Jacobson hurls a snitch about and demands information while Hanson's ugly turtleneck disapproves. Jacobson informs Hanson's fart face that this isn't teenagers selling coke in the bathroom; this is the Mafia, so if Hanson can't keep up, he can leave.

Lather, rinse, repeat with the manager of the hotel where the Lucchese flunkies are staying. And I do mean "rinse," as Jacobson pulls the "dunk the interrogatee's head in a fish tank for faster results" maneuver. Hanson is upset. Shut up, Hanson. Mr. Carter gives up the room number, and Jacobson and Hanson do the most amateurish kicking-in of a door I've seen in quite a while, both of them jumping right into the doorframe and just asking to get aired out. Fortunately for Keystone's finest, the Mafia is out to dinner at the time and Hanson's hideous acid-washed jean jacket — that doesn't match his actual jeans at all — lives to fight another day. Hanson starts to call the location in to Fuller, but hangs up mid-dial to get in a fight with Jacobson about whether the cops "in this hick town" actually know what they're doing. Hanson snarks that Jacobson isn't such hot shit: Jump Street had Jacobson figured out "from day one" (not exactly true), and that Jacobson couldn't get past him and Ioki at his mother's house (ditto — he got past you just fine, Glassjaw McTantrum). "All I see is a guy with a big mouth and a total disregard for anyone's civil rights!" Shut up, Hanson. Jacobson smirks that he's starting to like Hanson. Shut up, Jacobson!

On the diamond, Hoffs confesses her real name to Johnny. They have a heart-to-heart about identity. Johnny wonders if "Chris Terranova will just be this guy [he] used to know." A crane shot emphasizes their isolation. Or someone fucked up the two-shot. One of those.

Jump Street. An extra in pink pleated khakis he stole from an El DeBarge video hands Ioki and his ugly cowboy boots the paperwork from New York. Elsewhere, Jacobson complains about the shite pizza and observes that "if it ain't New York, it ain't nowhere." Ah, Gotham provincialism — a treasured trope of '70s and '80s TV and film that I do not miss. Penhall is on my wavelength, observing that that's not true of football: "Then it's Jersey, right?" Zing it, Penhall. Jacobson grimaces.

Phillips tells Fuller that Pa wants to see Johnny once more before he leaves town. Fuller thinks Pa thinks he's maybe not coming back. But — Johnny acts like Pa abandoned the family after getting everyone relocated, so doesn't Pa live in New York, or at "the feds" HQ or something? What "back" does Fuller mean if Pa doesn't live he– fuck it, moving on. Fuller tells Penhall to track Hoffs and Johnny down and bring them to Pa's hotel; Jacobson offers to come along. "Who said this guy ain't friendly?" Penhall goobs. "The snitch at the bar; the hotel clerk; me," Hanson pouts through a mouthful of pizza. Don't talk with your mouth full, Hanson. Or any other time.

Johnny's telling Hoffs she's the first person he didn't have to worry about slipping up in conversation with when Penhall comes in. Johnny is first mad that the catcher is a cop too, then surprised that his father asked to see him.

At a phone in the lobby, Jacobson is diming Pa's location — to the Lucchese hitters. Dun.

Ioki comes into Fuller's office with the rest of Jacobson's file, and shows him pictures of Jacobson with the man he said was his dead partner — who's also in the picture from the apartment with Jacobson's fake mother. So she's his real mother, and Jacobson's "partner" was his father. Ioki is dispatched with Hanson to pick Ma up.

At Ma's house, she's refusing to divulge anything. Hanson bleats that "you people" don't have the right to "come here from New York" and act like they own the place. Ma echoes my "shut up, Hanson" by asking him in a tone of "are you fucking kidding me" what gives Carmine Terranova the right to murder a man and get a new name and address as "punishment." Hanson gets her to admit that the guy in the photos is her late husband, and says he's sorry, but they'll get justice by letting Terranova testify against Lucchese and die in jail. Ma duhs that Lucchese didn't kill her husband; Terranova himself did. Hanson puts it together that Jacobson is there to kill Terranova, not protect him, and reaches for the phone, but Ma shoves him out of the way and rips the phone out of the wall, effectively…shutting Hanson up. Do it, Ma. I mean, they have a radio in the car, but still. Gesture appreciated, lady. After yet more establishment of the fact that, while Jacobson might not shoot Terranova himself, he'll tell the Luccheses how they can do it, Hanson and Ioki head out.

Sheraton Villas. Pa is making more stilted small talk about baseball; Johnny's like, get to the point, so Pa struggles to make it clear that this is probably goodbye. Johnny's like, I gave up on you as a father years since, so whatever. "Don't you talk to me like that!" "What are you gonna do, shoot me?" Heh. Anyway, Johnny's not having it, so Pa sighs that he's sorry he spoiled Johnny's date. He and his bodyguards leave. Johnny turns his back and makes wasabi crying faces.

Outside, Fuller and Phillips scoop up the Lucchese button guys in their car, but Jacobson is lurking behind a nearby patrol car with his shotgun. As the Jump Streeters connoiter elsewhere in the driveway, Jacobson starts blasting away at Pa. Pa is hustled back indoors amid huge showers of sparks; Hanson fires on Jacobson with his pistol, but Jacobson jumps into the patrol car and squeals off. Hanson grabs a shotgun of his own and cuts across the circle to head Jacobson off. Jacobson actorishly grits his teeth and narrowly evades a blockade, then heads straight for Hanson; over Penhall's objections Hanson stands his ground and shoots at Jacobson's tires, sending the patrol car arcing into the air over their heads, then crash-landing upside-down. Uniforms haul Jacobson from the wreck to arrest him. Hanson shrugs to Penhall, "That's the way [Jacobson] would've done it." Har.

Aftermath. Johnny and Hoffs say goodbye with the predictable "call me in five years" / "I'll get your autograph" convo while Coach Jive introduces Penhall to a college recruiter. Penhall has to confess that he's not a student, but a cop. College recruiter: "So?" Wah wah.

Next time: David Paymer, child pornographer. Barf.

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  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Cut me some slack, Jack!

    Man, it's bizarre how Hanson's "pouty bad boy cop who's guilty of stealing–MY HEART!" routine wears so very, very badly. I think Depp's charisma both sold the character more then most actors could and simultaneously made it more grittily irritating.

    I can't wait until you get to the one where he's dating the lawyer (Deluise's real-life wife) and she gets shot and he gets all obsessive about how he had seven seconds to stop her getting killed and starts totaling all the things a person can do in seven seconds. Gold.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I remember feeling vaguely back in the day as though, although Booker was an ass, Hanson was an even bigger ass for playing into Booker's assi…tude? But I don't remember Depp playing Hanson so consistently as a self-righteous prig; I thought it started later, and in fact it started in the pilot.

  • Janna says:

    @Jen S 1.0 – Right? Pull all the pepperoni off a slice of pizza, recite the alphabet, etc.

    I wish I didn't still know that. Yeesh.

  • Shelley says:

    Can't decide on a favourite between "it's possible Ioki has them hidden in a voluminous pleat of his ridonk Miami Vice suit" and "an extra in pink pleated khakis he stole from an El DeBarge video.” Ah, 80's fashions – is it wrong that I sometimes miss it? I still don't understand why the banana comb never made a comeback – those things rocked!

  • ct says:

    "a straight-Winnipeg accent"

    Good call.
    Maybe they're supposed to be New York by way of Manitoba mobsters…

  • Stephanie says:

    That first photo makes Peter De Luise look like a dated combination of Piazza and Canseco, and thus I will feel filthy for the remainder of the day.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Not as dirty as you'd have felt if I hadn't cut my rant about DeLuise not wearing a cup. Or a jock.

    Enjoy your lunch!

  • Sandman says:

    Duck! It's Whitaker, who's shooting every lamp and Betamax player in the place.

    There's just something about this line that's making me laugh like a loon. Nice choice of detail.

  • Jaybird says:

    I think "wasabi crying face", coupled with the still shot of same, just enriched my life. Heh. BTW: Way to dredge up BOOKER from the Let's-Never-Speak-of-This-Again basement. Blearrgh. Once you get the Grieco cranked up, you gotta start dealing with the Petty, and no ointment in the world can take care of that much rash.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    It's coming, girl. Get ready.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    "Not as dirty as you'd have felt if I hadn't cut my rant about DeLuise not wearing a cup. Or a jock.

    Enjoy your lunch!"

    Oh, God. CANNOT UNSEE.

  • Sandman says:

    @ Jen S 1.0: … RIGHT?! Aaack.

  • Mandi says:

    Damn you, Sars, you got me to go YouTube the "21 Jump Street" theme song. (And thanks.)

    Tangentially: "WHAT OF MY HEN?" Like a fine wine, that one only improves with age.

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