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Recalling Richard Grieco's 21 Jump Street spinoff Booker

  • Grieco's addition to 21 Jump Street's third season made him so popular -- more popular than Johnny Depp -- that his character got his own Fox spinoff, which lasted one year in the 1989-90 season. "In the world of TV spin-offs, it is essential to name your new series after the transitory character to remind people exactly why they’re supposed to watch: a chance to see a familiar face in a whole new light. It’s a hit-or-miss proposition. For every Frasier, there’s a Joey," says Gwen Ihnat. "For every Laverne & Shirley, a Joanie Loves Chachi. And for every Angel, there’s a Booker. In the late ’80s, Fox was trying feverishly to get its fledgling network off the ground, desperate to fill time slots and expand into seven nights of programming. So why not spin off one of its first real successes, 21 Jump Street, which featured an undercover squad of baby-faced detectives who tackled issues of the week at various high schools? In season three, sensing that breakout Johnny Depp’s star was ascending, Jump Street’s producers added Richard Grieco to the cast as Teen Beat backup Booker. Booker was a rebellious, motorcycle-jacket-wearing loner who hovered outside of the clique at the Jump Street chapel, his personality as pointy as his studded leather cuff. The former Elite model soon became Jump Street’s most popular cast member, his fan mail exceeding even Depp’s."

    TOPICS: 21 Jump Street, Booker, Richard Grieco, Retro TV