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  1. CHiPs Rosner Television/MGM Television, 1977-1983 Warner Home Video, 2007-2008 (Seasons 1-2 only) Created by Rick Rosner Running Time: 48 minutes per episode Rated TV-PG for violence. Cast Larry Wilcox as Officer Jonathan A. "Jon" Baker (call sign: 7-Mary-3) Erik Estrada as Officer Frank Llewelyn "Ponch" Poncherello (call sign: 7-Mary-4) Robert Pine (Chris Pine's old man) as Sgt. Joseph Getraer (S-4)with Lew Sanders as Officer Gene Fritz (call sign: 5-David-5) Brodie Greer as Officer Barry "Bear" Baricza (call sign: 7-Adam) Paul Linke as Officer Artie "Grossie" Grossman (call sign: 7-Mary-5) Lou Wagner as Mechanic Harlan Arliss Brianne Leary as Officer Sindy Cahill (call sign: 7-Charles) Lowdown CHiPs chronicles the adventures of two California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers in Los Angeles. Jon is a cool-headed blond guy partnered with Ponch, a hot-headed Hispanic who is on probation. Together, they spend each episode chasing runaway vehicles or speeding villains on the freeways, resolving road rage, rescuing injured motorists in accidents, or arguing with Sgt. Getraer over just about everything. So the story level is pretty shallow in this series. Your typical episode has one main plot involving a freeway incident, coupled with some subplots that occur either on-duty or off-duty. Some episodes even have Jon and Ponch pulling over the celebrity of the week. Sure, the script is filled with cheesy one-liners (almost all of which come from Ponch), but in an era where oil prices and the automotive industry were at their worst, you have to admit that CHiPs had one hell of a budget. These days, action TV shows have to resort to CG effects. During its day, CHiPs took full advantage of newly built freeways before their grand openings; this meant a lot of unrestrained car chases and crashes on each episode. In addition, it popularized bike-cam angles that would be used in later action films. And while Ponch's off-duty hobbies may be rather quirky, you'll end up cheering for him and Jon by the end of each episode. CHiPs is best known for launching the career of Erik Estrada, though he could not achieve the same degree of success elsewhere. Larry Wilcox was supposed to have been the main star of the show, but perhaps because his character was too clean-cut, he always ended up playing second fiddle to Estrada's loose cannon of a character. This resulted in a lot of tension between the duo behind the camera to the point where Wilcox called it quits after the fifth season. Also, only hardcore Trekkies know that before Michael Dorn was Worf in Star Trek: The Next Generation, he was Officer Jebediah Turner in seasons 3-5. Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner (now Caitlin Jenner) appeared in season 5 as Officer Steve McLeish while Estrada went on strike. Another focal point of the series is the music. Season 1 uses jazzy instrumentals typical of police and detective films of the 20th century, spearheaded by John Parker's iconic theme. Veteran score composers Mike Post (The Rockford Files, Doogie Howser, MD) and Pete Carpenter (1914-1987) (The A-Team, Magnum, P.I.) also contributed to season 1's music. By season 2, the disco craze was at its peak, so the producers brought in a young Alan Silvestri (The Avengers, the Back to the Future trilogy) to rearrange Parker's theme for everyone to boogie to. Sadly, like all TV series, CHiPs ran out of gas halfway through its run. The series was plagued by on-set injuries (such as one in 1979 where Estrada broke his ribs and wrists in a motorcycle accident), declining ratings, and contract disputes. When Wilcox walked out after season 5, he was replaced by Tom Reilly as Officer Bobby "Hot Dog" Nelson (call sign: 15-Mary-7). That season tanked heavily and led to the show's cancellation in 1983. Fifteen years later, Jon and Ponch reunited in CHiPs '99, a story to be told next time. In short, CHiPs is considered a guilty pleasure to some, but an entertaining good guy show for most families. Let's see how Hollywood screws this one up on the big screen next year or so... Rating: B References The Internet Movie Database
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