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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.

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)


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)

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

The Internet Movie Database Edited by areaseven
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Really a movie? I remember watching it as a kid. Not the best show but entertaining for it's time. I can't see how Hollywood can make a movie of it unless it goes the way of 21 jump street and starsky and hutch

It'll probably be as bland as the S.W.A.T. movie with Samuel L. Jackson.

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Well if the movie is anything like the show it won't be very dangerous or exciting. After all, not once in the series did the CHP draw their weapons. It was the most sedate and safest family show of its time...

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I used to watch this as a kid in the UK. All I really remember is the opening sequence in any detail, but it also may as well have been set on another planet for the setting it depicted; we have freeways in the UK - motorways - but where I live a two-lane road is considered a bit excessive as a means of conveying vehicles... :)

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In Japan, the series is titled Patrol Bikers Jon & Ponch (白バイ野郎ジョン&パンチ, Shirobai-yaro Jon and Ponch), which makes you wonder what season 6 was called after Jon called it quits. The dub features the voices of Hideyuki Tanaka (Otacon in Metal Gear Solid, Woody Malden in Mobile Suit Gundam) as Jon and Toshio Furukawa (Ataru in Urusei Yatsura, Kai Shiden in Mobile Suit Gundam) as Ponch. Coincidentally, Furukawa would go on to narrate the police-themed Super Sentai series Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger in 2004.

Edited by areaseven
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Well if the movie is anything like the show it won't be very dangerous or exciting. After all, not once in the series did the CHP draw their weapons. It was the most sedate and safest family show of its time...

Actually, in season 1, patrol car officer Barry Baricza drew his pistol after a couple of drunk rednecks shot up his car. Jon & Ponch never needed their guns; all they needed were their one-liners to catch the bad guys.

Meanwhile, what do we know about Warner Bros.' upcoming film reboot? Here are some updates:

  • The film will be written and directed by Dax Shepard (Punk'd, Crosby in Parenthood), who will also star as Officer Jon Baker. No, I don't see it. Jon was always a clean-cut character; Shepard looks too stoned for the role. A better casting choice would be Chris Pine; after all, his old man was Sgt. Getraer in the series.
  • Officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello will be played by Michael Peña (Gordo in Fury, Rincon in Battle: L.A.). Isn't he kinda old for this role? Also the Ponch character is iconic because of Erik Estrada's machismo; Peña has none of that.
  • Unlike Starsky & Hutch and The Dukes of Hazzard, the CHiPs film will not be a parody of the original series. It will be an action film with some comedy.

Unfortunately, it will face the same problem the Miami Vice film had: it doesn't work in a present-day setting. Just as Miami Vice was to the '80s, CHiPs lived and breathed the '70s - the shaggy hair, the massive uses of brown and earth tones, and of course, the disco music. You can take CHiPs out of the '70s, but you just can't take the '70s out of CHiPs. And don't get me started on the CHiPs '99 reunion movie...

And another thing: Just like the Ford Torino in Starsky & Hutch or the General Lee in The Dukes of Hazzard, the Kawasaki KZ1000 was the vehicular star of CHiPs. Sure, the CHP has moved on with Hondas and BMWs, but it's just not CHiPs without this bike.


Dax Shepard will turn '70s cop show CHiPs into a movie

Dax Shepard, Michael Peña to Star in CHiPs Movie

Edited by areaseven
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  • 6 months later...

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