20th Century Fox Television
Before Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill rebooted the franchise, 21 Jump Street was the definitive teen television series. Part of the new Fox Network, this cop drama premiered and seemed to feature nearly every actor of the 1980s and '90s. It also made a young Johnny Depp a household name. The 1980s kitsch of the show makes it supremely addictive.
Baby-faced officer Tom Hanson (Depp) joins an elite group of young looking cops called the Jump Street division. The cops go undercover in high schools to solve crimes and shut down illegal drug runners, chop shops, and investigate major cases. The crew is made up of wise Sergeant Judy Hoffs (Holly Robinson Peete), goofball Officer Doug Penhall (Peter DeLuise), martial artist Sergeant Harry Truman Ioki (Dustin Nguyen), and under the leadership of Captain Adam Fuller (Steven Williams). Each week, the group would not only solve a major crime but also touch on a major social issue like rape, drug abuse, homophobia, or racism.
Although there is a slight cheese factor in some of the storylines and the police work is a little outlandish like The Killing, the series does pack a major entertaining punch. The series brought pretty deep storylines to its characters including the rape of Detective Hoffs, the hidden Vietnamese identity of Nguyen’s character, and the struggle when Hanson shoots a perpetrator.
There’s a perfect blend of great acting and the right level of 1980s/1990s camp to make the series funny, yet thought provoking. Sure, it’s a little crazy and borderline unconstitutional to have undercover cops in high schools. However, its refreshing to take a look back at what life was like before kids were twerking in sex videos on the internet and spending their time stuck to their phones. This series offers a time capsule of the era with the appropriate amount of embellishment and drama. Not to mention the novelty of seeing some A-list and B-list actors as baby-faced Canadian teenagers. Let's also not forget, that Robinson recorded the catchy theme song.
Not only is Depp a shining star but he’s joined by actors that went on to have huge careers. Vince Vaughn, Brad Pitt, Christina Applegate, Rosie Perez, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Blair Underwood all had guest-starring roles in the series.
You can catch all five seasons of the series on Hulu Plus.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Think Johnny Depp would be interested in a role? Variety reports Paramount Pictures plans to make a big-screen version of 21 Jump Street, the popular late-'80s TV series that launched Depp's career and gave the then-fledgling Fox network its first youth audience boost. The film treatment, to be written by series co-creators Stephen J Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh, focuses on a group of 20-something undercover cops who return to high school to crack down on drug dealers roaming the hallways. The series also starred Peter DeLuise, Holly Robinson Peete, Dustin Nguyen and Richard Grieco.
Frances Bay, the 83-year-old character actress who was struck by a car Thursday, was listed in critical condition Saturday at a Los Angeles hospital after having part of her right leg amputated. Bay, who has appeared in more than 50 films including Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Planner, also suffered from head injuries due to the accident in which a 17-year-old driver struck her going 30 miles per hour. No charges have been filed as yet.
Paula Poundstone has taken the first step in getting her children back. An appeals court granted the comedian her first unsupervised visit with her three adopted children since she lost custody 17 months ago in her child endangerment case, Reuters reports. She has been visiting the kids, now in a foster home, with a court-appointed monitor nearly every day.
Jethro gets in on some casino action. Max Baer Jr., the actor who played the dumb but lovable Jethro Bodine on the popular '60s show The Beverly Hillbillies, has signed a deal to produce hundreds of penny slot machines featuring the show, AP reports. If this works out, Baer, 64, looks to expand the Hillbillies franchise by coming up with grocery items such as Elly May's buns and Granny's lye soap. Yee-haw!
Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) will direct Warner Bros. Pictures' Strangers, an update of the Patricia Highsmith novel Strangers on a Train. The story, which in 1951 got classic treatment from the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, centers on a tennis pro embroiled in an ugly divorce who wants to kill his wife. He ends up meeting a man on a train who wants to kill his father, and the two make a pact to swap murders. Only one, however, has the guts to carry it out.
The Emmy-nominated miniseries Dinotopia, a fantastical story about dinosaurs and humans living and conversing compatibly, will become a TV series on ABC. The 13-episode series will begin airing Thanksgiving and will be geared toward the young viewing audience that made the miniseries so popular. Meaning, the T. Rexes will still devour humans, they'll just do it off-camera.
Chris Robinson, the lead singer of the Black Crowes who left the popular rock band to pursue a solo career, is now promoting his debut album New Earth Mud. Robinson, 35, who is married to actress Kate Hudson, told Reuters, "I'm not looking for an easy life."
Sean "P.Diddy" Combs and Alicia Keys were on hand Saturday in Cape Town, South Africa, to perform for MTV's Staying Alive Concert and to voice their indignation over the lack of support for the AIDS epidemic currently ravaging Africa. "I don't think you see enough of this story in your face," Combs told reporters. MTV will broadcast the concert globally Dec. 1 as part of a 90-minute World AIDS Day special .