Case #4.15: "Back From the Future"

The episode begins in a futuristic looking police station. Think Tomorrowland at a Disney park having a baby with Back to the Future: Part II. A young officer, John Cogan, gripes to himself about how boring desk duty is. A video screen comes to life, featuring Cap'n Rufus in a Star Trek-esque uniform. "Sorry, kid, your request is denied," he says, even though Cogan didn't ask anything. 

Cogan wants to appeal. "You know department policy. The decision is final," Rufus chirps robotically. Cogan says they can't keep him off the streets just because of how he looks, which in his case means very young.

Cogan's the same age as all the other recent academy graduates and was top of his class: "You put me on desk duty, we both lose." "Did I ever tell you about my granddad?" Video Screen Rufus asks in the same monotone. 50 years ago, Grandpa Rufus knew a young cop who had the same problem as Cogan. Hanson, the officer in question, was sent to Jump Street. Video Screen Rufus describes it as "a chameleon operation for young-looking officers. Granddad ran it out of a church." Cogan may have heard of some of the Jump Street officers.

"Where can I apply?" asks Cogan. Rufus tells him, "You don't. They dismantled the program a long time ago." Rufus has never met any of the old Jump Street officers, but heard they were good cops. The screen blips to black.

Cogan walks along a hallway wearing what looks like a visored motorcycle helmet with a flashlight mounted on top. He uses his hand to unlock a door labeled Cubicle 6.520; inside, an old man Cogan addresses as Mr. Hanson is ranting and raving in high, reedy voice about music and his hatred of Tiffany. "Mr. Hanson, I'm not here about that. Tell me about Jump Street." We finally get a clear shot of Johnny Depp, barely recognizable in the old man makeup. "You want us to talk in the hallway like two bums or something? Get in here," says Old Man Hanson. Theme song.

Old Man Hanson wheezes, "It was the best of was the worst of times." Flashbacks show the Jump Street secret handshake and Amy's murder. "It was the age of was the age of foolishness." Flashback of Tom and the loathsome Russell Buckins almost hitting a cow with a Jeep. Old Man Hanson informs Hogan he just quoted the first sentences of A Tale of Two Cities. Cogan is impressed that Tom still remembers it. "Well, I oughta!" snaps Old Man Hanson, "Every school we worked in read it!" 

Harry, now sporting a long gray wig, looks up from his tea to ask what Cogan thinks he'll get out of a "bunch of old-timers." Cogan just wants to know how it was done back then. The opening credits reveal this episode was directed by Peter DeLuise, a well-known scifi buff. This should be interesting.

Flashback to the pilot episode when the captain offers Tom a job with Jump Street and Tom dismisses the program as "Fast Times At Bust-Your-Buddy High." Flashback Captain gives Tom the ultimatum of Jump Street or desk duty until Tom looks old enough to be a cop. 

"Mr. Holier-Than-Thou, that's who I was in those days. And how 'bout that haircut?" Old Man Hanson says. Peter DeLuise in a bald cap and turtleneck sweater chimes in that the haircut was the first thing he noticed about Tom: "Of course, anyone would've looked square next to our commanding officer Richard Jenko, Captain Richard Jenko."

Flashback to Jenko's grand fire pole entrance in the pilot. "They called us kiddie cops, but he was the biggest kid of them all," says Old Doug. Flashback to Jenko's '60s throwback office and his funeral. Old Doug exposits that Jenko was killed by a drunk driver.

Looking closer, Old Doug's outfit looks less like a turtleneck and more like a weird knockoff of a monk's robe, complete with a cross on a long chain. Cap'n Rufus appears from the corner driving a motorized wheelchair, an oxygen mask around his neck. "When I walked into that place, I could tell what those kids expected was a junior version of Rich Jenko," Old Rufus says in a deep, raspy voice, "What they got was something different."

Flashback to the first time Cap'n Rufus met his team, saying he doesn't intend to replace Jenko. Old Man Hanson says Rufus never took crap from anyone. Old Doug adds Rufus didn't give it either. Old Judy, in a stereotypical older black woman's tribal print dress and head wrap, remembers Rufus's shirts the most: "That man had style. Of course, [Rufus] wasn't the only fine-lookin' man on the force. All three of the guys I worked with were pretty gorgeous." But it never interfered with the job, not even the one time she almost got involved with a coworker.

Flashback to Doug and Judy kissing. "I can't believe I'm kissing Doug Penhall," Young Judy says shyly. Old Judy was worried about how Doug would take her not wanting a relationship with him, but he was a gentlemen. "A total chump, that's what I was," Old Doug disagrees. Both do agree that giving up on romance didn't mean losing their special friendship. However, Old Doug regrets not trying again to be more than friends with Judy.

Old Doug says, "Next to Tom Hanson, Abe Lincoln looked corrupt..and modest." Old Man Hanson was just doing his job, but admits to taking himself seriously. "He had a sense of humor, but he kept it hid," adds Old Fuller. Old Judy speculates that Tom's attitude had to do with his father.

Flashback to Tom Senior's murder during a botched robbery; Tom and his date to the Valentine's Day dance are picked up by a grim-looking uniformed officer and a detective. 

Old Rufus says Tom kept his emotions buried, much like his sense of humor. Old Doug describes Tom as having "a basic Puritan ethic: Whatever else is going on, work comes first." Old Man Hanson still feels the same. Old Doug adds, "If he tells you he had no personal life, don't believe it. He was fightin' 'em off in the 4th grade."

Flashback to 9-year-old Tom dancing at a cotillion with a girl who bullied him. Old Doug says, "As he got older, they got more aggressive." Flashback to one of Tom's encounters with Jackie the D.A., a romantic pairing I loathed even more than Tom and Amy. Flashback to Tom and the drug dealer's moll. Old Man Hanson disagrees with Old Doug's assessment that he was good with women. Flashback to 9-year-old Tom's dance class. Another flashback of Jackie being a bitch.

Old Doug understands why Cogan is so interested in ancient history and offers the rookie some advice: "When our dreams go, the best part of us goes with 'em." Old Doug doesn't have a favorite case, but there were some he really got into.

Flashback to Doug being conscripted to act on the movie set. Old Doug proudly recalls that the director said he was a natural actor. Old Man Hanson cackles, "A ham is more like it. Doug always did love the limelight." For some reason, it now flashes back to Tom slam-dancing at a punk concert. Old Man Hanson says, "All I kept thinking through this whole ordeal was 'Penhall would love this.'"

Old Judy describes Doug as the class clown. Flashback to Judy as Officer Milk Carton stopping a robber. Old Fuller says Doug always threw himself into his work. That, combined with Doug's personality, sometimes made him too gung-ho.

Flashback to when Doug accidentally shot Tom in the ass and giving Tom an inflatable seat cushion. Old Man Hanson cackles again, this time about how Doug can be a pain in the ass. "Hanson's been usin' that line for 50 years," says Old Doug. Tom says Doug shouldn't feel guilty about shooting him because worse things have happened.

Flashback to Tom in drag, grousing, "They don't pay me enough for this." Old Rufus thinks Tom looked good in a dress and laughs so hard he has to take a few puffs off his oxygen mask. He remembers Harry in the same situation. Flashback to Harry in drag. Old Harry sips his tea and says, "I was one ugly woman." Old Doug says it was all in good fun, but some cases were no laughing matter.

Flashback to a sexually abused teen offering Tom $1,700 to kill her father. Old Man Hanson is teary remembering that. Flashback to Tom flipping out on Judy after Amy died. Old Man Hanson says, "No matter how good I got, there were still times I thought my heart would break." Flashback to a group of angry parents chanting: "NO AIDS IN SCHOOL!" and Tom befriending the AIDS victim who later tried to commit suicide. Old Man Hanson states the obvious: Cogan is too young to remember the height of the AIDS epidemic.

Old Harry reflects on his days with Jump Street: "I had just come to this country, so in a sense, it was the beginning of my life." After Jump Street, Harry started a karate school, married 4 times, and did PR consulting work for Immigration and Naturalization. Flashback to Fuller learning that Harry is really Vietnamese, not Japanese as he'd claimed. Flashback to Harry fleeing Vietnam as a teen.

Old Rufus doesn't blame Harry for being bitter. In this future, movies are all in Japanese and dubbed over in English, which explains the Asian lettering on Cogan's desk nameplate. Old Doug took a similar path after Jump Street: "Harry had lost loved ones and so had I." Flashback montage of Doug and his wife Marta who was deported back to El Salvador. No mention of his father being an abusive alcoholic or his mother's suicide? I'm surprised.

Old Doug says he'd found something to fight for and believe in again. Old Man Hanson says, "If someone said Penhall would become a reverend and the head of the most prominent human rights organization in the world, I woulda busted 'em for possession." The reverend thing is less of a shock to me; Doug mentioned that his father was once a priest. It also explains Old Doug's outfit.

Old Judy remembers Doug cornering her about human rights bills during her days as a politician. Old Doug recalls Judy having the softest touch of all the senators because she trusted him. She says fondly, "Today, 'ethics' is an SAT word. But for Doug Penhall, it's a way of life."

Blowfish sits in a chair flanked by two muscular men in shiny gold tank tops and black sunglasses. He's wearing rings on almost every finger: "Look at what Penhall's clean conscience got him: a single room in a golden-era rest home and a rubber-chicken tribute dinner twice a year." Old Blowfish invites Old Doug to dinner, but Old Doug gets lost in the house. "By the time the butler finds him, he's so confused he thinks we're in a hotel," Old Blowfish laughs. He concedes that it's an easy mistake in a house with 72 rooms.

Old Doug explains that Blowfish got rich after founding his own company: Star Maintenance. Old Blowfish says the Jump Street crew was always like family and he lost count of his great-grandchildren after 50. He takes out a device that looks like a cell phone and shows Cogan a video from the last Banducci family reunion.

Old Man Hanson is happy for Blowfish's success because Blowfish is a family man. Cogan asks Tom if he's a family man too. Old Man Hanson angrily tells Cogan that what he did off-duty was nobody's business. I'm guessing he never got married or had kids. Cogan apologizes. Old Man Hanson apologizes for biting the rookie's head off. He's glad Cogan came to visit him and talk about the old days: "When all is said and done, we really did have some good times together."

Cogan leads Old Doug and Old Man Hanson up the stairs of a building. He tells them excitedly that Future Fuller thinks starting up Jump Street again is a good idea. The two bicker about where exactly the Chapel was. "At least I don't get lost going to a shuffleboard game," Old Man Hanson tells Old Doug. The episode ends with the old men bantering while the rookie walks alongside them.

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