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Home » Culture and Criticism

21 Jump Street: “Next Generation”

Submitted by on March 29, 2011 – 10:12 AM8 Comments

The Plot: A teacher with financial problems gets beaten up, and because notorious loan shark Tony Delaplant’s son Hoagy (…seriously) attends the school, it’s assumed that one of them is involved. Hanson is sent in undercover to investigate, and Hoagy is indeed a junior shylock — but he’s also an academic decathlete and a lock in the upcoming election for senior-class president.This is either one of the cleverer “hiding in dweeb sight” covers ever constructed by a bad guy on 21JS, or — more likely — it’s an attempt to win the approval of Delaplant Sr., who is forever shooing Hoagy out of rooms to Talk Business and intoning threateningly that he doesn’t want Hoagy following in his footsteps.

Anyway, Hanson’s forced to join high-school quiz bowl in order to get close to the kid. Hanson is a know-it-all, so that goes quite well, until the quiz bowl’s academic advisor (Hey, It’s That Anxiously Officious Clerk Or Vice President Michael Ensign, familiar to Ghostbusters fans as the hotel manager) informs the team that, if they make the finals, they get to go on the tee-vee!

For once, Hanson’s chapped ass is justified — that could blow his cover permanently. Also threatening to blow his cover: class clown and gambling addict Davey Miller (Jason Lively, a.k.a. Rusty II from National Lampoon’s European Vacation). Davey owes Hoagy a bunch of money, but if Hanson runs for class president and wins, Davey can take a bunch of bets and break even. At least, I think that’s the reasoning. Davey spends most of the episode in a pair of Levi’s that’s more rip than jean, with peach-colored long johns on underneath, so his particular Earth logic isn’t something I can explain to you.

Somehow, Delaplant Sr. gets wind of that plan and sends a goon (Hey, It’s That Goon Ned Bellamy) to stick a gun in Hanson’s face: “You’re not running.”

A bunch of yelling later, it’s time for the set-up: Hanson has a “friend” (it’s Fuller, obvs) who needs 50K. Hoagy asks his father to stake him, and they get in a big old father-son “I don’t want you to be like me”/”I’ve run bets for two years already, can’t you just be proud of me” tiff before Hoagy says he’ll just use his father’s contacts anyway, and stomps off. At the meet, Hoagy goes over the terms and hands over the cash, and is arrested. Delaplant Sr. turns up at the station to have the old-gunslingers-speak-frankly discush with Fuller, then…leaves, without bailing Hoagy out of jail. He explains that “It’s all part of the business,” then gives a weird, ambiguous speech about standing trial with his son and maybe if his own father had wah wah vicious cycle, then tears up and says, “Send him somewhere nice, huh? He’s a good kid,” and then he bolts. Fuller looks thoughtful. Or perhaps chilly, because that shit is cold.

The Holes: I think the idea here is that, although Delaplant Sr. wanted Hoagy to study hard and make something legit of himself, now he’s touched that Hoagy wants to follow in his footsteps, so he’s teaching him the…ropes? By letting him go to juvie, since he’d…get less time than Delaplant Sr.? None of that is made explicit, however. Nor does it make sense that a guy that concerned with making people believe that his dry-cleaning business is his only source of income would risk attracting attention by pulling a gun on his son’s opponent in a race for student council. Nobody here should care nearly as much about the class-president race as they do, actually — Lord knows nobody’s going to pry a twenty loose to bet on the thing — but it’s kind of a 21JS hallmark to make a big deal over the aspects of high-school life that high-schoolers themselves wouldn’t care much about.

A solid episode overall — the acting is a marvel of comparative restraint, and Hanson keeps the red-assery under control — but the ending needed another draft.

Not Quite Ready For Their Close-Ups: I tried for half an hour to figure out where I knew Hoagy from without looking him up, but failed. It’s Stephen Gregory, who plays Dr. Kyle Beresford on SVU (the John Schneider-ish-looking cutie who often gives the detectives the medical brief towards the beginning).

I also learned that Jason Lively is Blake Lively’s half-brother. The more you know! [swoopy star]

Ow, Quit It: God help me, but I’ve started to find Penhall charming. Well, not murderously irritating, anyway. His subplot in the episode is one of my least favorite “comedic” arcs — good-time galoot has to take care of an infant — and Penhall is only doing it because the baby belongs to his foxy British-air-hostess neighbor, who’s just gotten separated from her husband, and if Penhall does her a favor with the tyke, maybe he’ll get some tail out of it. Her flights keep getting stuck in Omaha and Penhall keeps showing up to work with baby Hannah in a makeshift Snugli and asking Hoffs to pitch in because women like babies, and “you’re a woman, aren’tcha?” Hoffs’s eyebrows: “Fuck off.” Fuller’s eyebrows start to say the same thing, but then he’s adorable with the baby, natch.

It’s exhausted material, but DeLuise is a soldier with it, and manages to mine some material from a running gag about using t-shirts as diapers. The neighbor gets back with her husband in the end, which I hope means we never see any of them ever again.

Drink!: Mr. Laforse’s Rolodex; Ioki’s cavernous Battlefield Earth-issue jean jacket; Penhall in a bowling shirt, over a Bill the Cat tee, with a safety pin earring; Blowfish makes a Pee-Wee Herman reference.

I probably should have started tracking the generic school names earlier in the process, but better late than never. This episode’s is “Riverside.”




  • Rachel says:

    Have you been listening to any of the commentary tracks? DeLuise has one or two per season, and they’re always hilarious. Might just make you like him even more, knowing that umpteen years later he’s mocking himself for wearing too much eyeliner.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    I can’t wait for the frenzied wagering over the Math Bowl competition! If it’s anything like my school, the desperate will be staking their eyes and kidneys as the clock ticks down!

    …oh, wait, that was an X Files. Oh, well.

  • Elisa says:

    Heh. We also had a Riverside HS.

    And now you really have me curious as to what Rusty II (Jason Lively) looks like. Off to search!

  • RJ says:

    I hear Channing Tatum is playing the Depp role in the upcoming movie.

    No, really.

    It CAN get worse!

  • Wendalette says:

    @RJ: Really?

    ::dies in agony::

    It would be better to get Depp himself to play the role, “old” as he is, than to let Channing “Why can’t you take me seriously as an actor?” Tatum have that part. I’m shocking myself by wondering if Zac Efron would be a viable alternative…

  • Jaybird says:

    Great Caesar’s ghost. “Upcoming movie” and “21 Jump Street” don’t belong in the same universe. They really and truly don’t. Not even touching the Channing Tatum thing.

  • Jaybird says:

    And another thing: That baby needs to be hanging MORE precariously out of that mailbag thing. It’s not like they’re top-heavy with their big heads and dodgy motor skills or anything.

  • Don says:

    As any fan of the series knows, it was filmed mostly (entirely?) in Vancouver, BC. And, if I remember the hazy 80s correctly, all of the high school names in the show are actual high schools in the Vancouver area.

    Case in point:

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