Part 3: 21 JSR Has An EU?! OR. You Do Understand You’re Hugging A TV, Right?
Episode two, baby! Our first half hour episode! A cast member change! Footage matching! Episode one was a distant memory. THIS would be my magnum opus.
Okay, I shouldn’t call it mine. For as much as I shouldered the main responsibilities of the series, Jared really did a lot of the writing. By that I mean I’d give him an outline of what I wanted and he’d write the script. So he was the head writer, basically.
Jared could put the show away when he was done writing but I couldn’t. By this point I was THE executive producer on the series. 21 JSR consumed my every waking thought. I had become a control freak and had totally iced KC out of production. In my eyes, he took the whole thing as a joke. I was taking it seriously.
Which is why episode two featured a fucking evil worm train and we blared Crazy Train. SO SERIOUS.
AND OH YEAH. Did you know I had seriously considered doing a musical prequel to episode two? Yeah, it would have starred Darryl and Milo and would have explained how Milo showed up at just the right moment for the fight in episode two. We abandoned this because for once I had common sense. The only time, honestly.
James was totally gracious about leaving the show and the filming of episode two went smoothly. Except for the part where Mayowa hurt his head and I didn’t realize what had happened until four years later. Thanks for being a trooper, Mayowa!
By now most of the cast had graduated but they were still willing to show up for filming. It was a pain in the ass to schedule, but we somehow managed it.
I’ll say it over and over again but the cast was such a joy to work with. The material I was giving them was lackluster at best, but they didn’t care. They were just having a blast hanging out. Every messed up take would be accompanied by a fit of giggles and laughter. Jokes would abound, many of which really aren’t that funny if you weren’t there. But the 21 JSR cast will always bust up laughing when I mention ‘shoulders’.
Oh yeah, did I mention this time we did location shooting?
The time has finally come. I’m going to discuss editing the Rescue Force footage in GREAT DETAIL. Feel free to skip this part if you aren’t a die-hard fan because this shit is about to get technical.
The unique thing about shows like Power Rangers is nearly all their fight footage comes from Japanese TV shows. They’d cut around all the Japanese characters and just use the footage of the main characters in suits and monsters. It’s on one level brilliant and on the other cheap as hell.
21 JSR is no exception (just lowkey called my own show brilliant) and I did the same thing as Power Rangers. I went through all the Rescue Force episodes I had, cut out all the shots of the Japanese actors, and re-purposed what I could for my own story.
Episode two of 21 JSR primarily featured footage taken from the Rescue Force movie, which featured a large segment of Rangers 1 and 2 (aka Milo and John) fighting in a quarry. During that fight, a new character shows up and transformers into Ranger 0. I wanted to use the footage of Ranger 0 because come on, MV had to be a Ranger at some point.
When I looked at the footage, I realized there were just enough shots of Rangers 1 and 2 separated from the new character that I could do what Power Rangers fans call ‘footage matching’. Basically, I would film scenes in a similar location and make it look like the Ranger characters in the Japanese footage were interacting with MV in the footage we would shoot. It’s tough to pull off, but doable.
So we found a quarry, illegally trespassed, and filmed Graham’s scenes. Thankfully we didn’t get caught. This time. (DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNN!) Graham chewed all of the scenery, running across that quarry and looking look a badass for every single frame.
When cut together it came out better then I expected. It really looks like Graham is in the same area as the morphed Rangers. For a show with zero budget, creating that illusion made the whole thing feel much bigger then it really was.
This was also where we introduced using sketch commercials to break the episodes up. Some were more successful then others, with my favorites being a close tie between ‘Dead Be Gone’ (Jared’s Bill Mayes was spot on) and ‘JB Reese’s Puffs’ (All hail Dante’s editing skills). They were a chance for us to just go nuts. I’m still sad we never filmed our fake sequel trailer to Snakes on a Plane.
The end of the episode revealed a new villain for the team, Dr. Goering. This is where shit gets complicated because 21 Jump Street Rangers has a fucking expanded universe.
Yeah, this fucking Ameri-Toku web series has supplementary material that enhances the story. Like the fucking Star Wars novels. Oh yeah. Specifically, two shorts that fill in the back-stories of characters. YEAH, BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW THIS SHIT EXISTED.
The first one is obvious. Dr. Goering came from a short that was shot at the same time as 21 JSR, Goering My Way. A send up of classic movie serials, the story detailed a wry inspector facing off against a mad scientist, Dr. Goering.
It wasn’t originally in continuity but I wanted to retcon it into the 21 JSR story. Having a human villain would be perfect! Jared denies it, but he was originally against the idea of having Goering show up in 21 JSR (the character was originally his idea) but he came around. Thank god, because Goering ended up being one of the strongest elements in 21 JSR.
The other short was The Toaster. Written by future 21 JSR writer Jessey, it detailed a couples crumbling marriage and how it all blows up over a toaster. What the fuck does that have to do with 21 JSR? Well for one, the wife from that production shows up in the Toast 4000 sketch in episode two. And second? In my mind, those characters were Darryl’s parents. Long after 21 JSR was all wrapped up I wrote a script which featured Darryl coming home after his fight in episode six, only to witness the events of The Toaster. Where the couple argues who keeps what and doesn’t mention their son. A super retcon to be sure, but it makes Darryl’s character all the more tragic.
Yeah, none of this showed up on screen, but it’s there. Subtle but there. Which is really just a fancy way of saying I wasn’t a good enough writer to get this all on screen. Learning experience, people.
Episode two languished in post production hell for half a year while I scrambled to fill the fifteen minutes of footage with shitty sound effects and also dealt with the worst relationship of my life. This is where the depression I mentioned in part one of this series really started. Thankfully I made it out of the relationship okay physically, but mentally I’d be pretty fucked up for a number of years.
Not that anyone who knew me had any idea just how bad it was. You see, my coping mechanism back then was to act like NOTHING was a problem. If my friends were arguing? I’d shut down and wouldn’t say a thing. This would nearly be 21 JSR’s undoing. (Who doesn’t love foreshadowing?)
Episode two premiered in January 2011. The feedback was slightly better than episode one, but it still wasn’t great. I was improving, but asking a random viewer to sit through thirty minutes of my awkward film making was beyond a stretch. Still though, I pressed on. I mean hey, I only had one more episode, right?