CHiPs: The Complete First Season – DVD Review


Available at Amazon.com

Creator:
Rick Rosner

Cast:

Larry Wilcox ………. Officer Jon Baker
Erik Estrada ………. Officer Francis Llewellyn “Ponch” Poncherello
Robert Pine ………. Sgt. Joseph Getraer
Lew Saunders ………. Officer Gene Fritz
Brodie Greer ………. Officer Barry Baricza

The Show

The 1970’s was really the first decade to market “stars” from TV shows that aired during that decade. At least one character or actor from almost every TV show could be seen on all kinds of items including posters, lunch boxes, action figures, clothing, etc. Happy Days had “Fonzie.” Charlie’s Angels had Farrah Fawcett. The Dukes of Hazzard had “Daisy Duke.” Three’s Company had Suzanne Somers. All of these characters or actors had one thing in common. They were attractive and had big personalities, which was easy to market to fans of those shows. Another character that deserves to be mentioned on the list above is “Ponch”. When someone says the word “Ponch,” you immediately think of the 1970’s TV show called CHiPs.

CHiPs is an abbreviation for California Highway Patrol. This series followed the lives of two state motorcycle patrolmen as they patrolled the freeway system in and around Los Angeles, California. Officer Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox) was the straight, serious officer, while Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Erik Estrada) was the more macho and wild and crazy guy of the duo. Both reported to Sgt. Joe Getraer (Robert Pine), who gave out assignments and advice in handling the cases. He was gruff, but often played a “father figure” to his two officers.

Each episode followed the same pattern, which should be familiar to any fans of crime dramas during the late 1970’s to early 1980’s. The storylines were a combination of light comedy and melodrama. A typical episode would start with Ponch and Jon being assigned to patrol an interesting part of California. In a staff briefing, Sgt. Gatraer would warn CHiPs to be on the lookout for a criminal operation. After a few failed attempts to apprehend the gang that had been menacing L.A.’s freeways, the episode would end with Ponch and Jon leading a chase of the suspects, climaxing with a series of stunt car crashes, and the bad guys getting arrested. Often times, we would see just as much stuff happening in Ponch’s and Jon’s social lives as their professional lives. Ponch would always attempt to impress a woman he had met during an episode with his athletic prowess, only to fall and provide Jon, Getraer and others with a good laugh.

The stories featured on this show were hardly ever serious. That is common among crime shows from this time. So what really separated the ones that succeeded from the ones that failed was the acting involved on the show. Big personalities were the key to success and Erik Estrada as “Ponch” was just that kind of character to make CHiPs succeed. He was a “ladies man” or at least he tried to be on the show. In the real world, women loved him just as much as “Fonzie”. His character symbolized everything that people loved about the 1970’s. Larry Wilcox was a good straight man for Estrada’s character, and Robert Pine was a fine choice to play their boss. The chemistry between all three lead actors actually worked and made this show more popular than what it should have been.

CHiPs is now 30 years old, but it’s one of those TV shows from the 1970’s that people still remember today. This show didn’t tackle any serious issues. There were no big shootouts either, but what this show did have was memorable characters especially “Ponch.” It’s exactly what a 1970’s TV show was all about. CHiPs is light, campy fun at its best. Don’t expect anything more and you won’t be disappointed.

Episodes:

Disc One:

Episode 1 – Pilot
Meet the street’s elite: Ponch and Jon stop a car-theft ring. Ponch’s antics may also keep him on probation.

Episode 2 – Undertow
He’s here to help himself. A would-be tow-truck driver robs stranded motorists.

Episode 3 – Dog Gone
Jon’s dog daze: A string of incidents complicates the officer’s efforts to help a lost, injured pooch.

Episode 4 – Moving Violation
Our heroes rescue a man from an overturned van filled with snakes. Plus, Ponch goes to traffic school.

Disc Two:

Episode 5 – Career Day
Young man on the rise: Ponch patrols in Chopper 5 and speaks at his alma mater’s Career Day.

Episode 6 – Baby Food
It should be labeled with a skull and bones. A trucker’s missing cargo of baby food is tainted with botulism.

Episode 7 – Taking Its Toll
Crying time: A load of spilled and crushed onions has the responding CHP-ers in tears. Bandits target drivers at toll booths.

Episode 8 – Green Thumb Burglar
Someone is stealing plants from L.A.’s freeways. A psychic predicts trouble for Ponch.

Disc Three:

Episode 9 – Hustle
License, please. The duo pulls over Broderick Crawford (Highway Patrol). Bikers go on a heist spree.

Episode 10 – Highway Robbery
A big assist! The officers use a circus elephant to tow a disabled truck. Jon’s ex-football teammate turns to crime.

Episode 11 – Name Your Price
High rollers: Femme thieves specialize in Rolls Royce cars. Ponch seeks his fortune on a game show.

Disc Four:

Episode 12 – Aweigh We Go
Scales of justice. Jon and Ponch pull duty at a roadside truck-weigh station.

Episode 13 – One Two Many
He wants to be CHP in the worst way. But this uniformed lawbreaker is a look-alike for one of the best: Jon!

Episode 14 – Rustling
Ride’em, cowboys! The buddy cops confront dirt-bike riding cattle rustlers. Also, it’s Jon’s birthday.

Episode 15 – Surf’s Up
Destination: Malibu. Jon and Ponch have a temporary beach assignment. Cowabunga, dudes!

Disc Five:

Episode 16 – Vintage ’54
She’s the vintage owner of a vintage car. Eighty-five-year-old Mrs. Dawney reports her auto is stolen.

Episode 17 – Hitch-Hiking Hitch
Thumb a ride with danger: Two teenage girls seem unaware of the perils of hitch-hiking.

Episode 18 – Cry Wolf
Hurry up and wait! Bogus accident calls have CHP spinning its wheels.

Episode 19 – Crash Diet
One kind of loser: A man hurls debris at traffic. Other kinds of losers: Some CHP-ers must shed weight.

Disc Six:

Episode 20 – Rainy Day
Nothing can stop them from their appointed rounds. During a deluge, the motorcycle duo patrols in a car.

Episode 21 – Crack-Up
Uneasy rider: Ponch must partner with Sgt. Getraer after Jon is injured in an accident.

Episode 22 – Flashback!
A brash rookie patrolman causes Ponch to look back on his days as a push-the-limits, know-it-all newbie.

The Video:

The video is given in full screen color with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Transfer is good with minimal distortion. The quality is about what expect from a show from the 1970’s. The video is nothing special, but it’s good enough for this show.

The Audio:

The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital Mono sound. There are subtitles available in Spanish and Portuguese as well, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Again, it’s pretty standard quality for a TV show from the 1970’s. The dialogue comes out crisp and clear, but it won’t blow you away.

The Extras:

“Ponch’s Police Tips” Featurette
Erik Estrada does a two-minute introduction for select episodes from the complete first season DVD set. He points out various trivia and facts about the episodes he is introducing. He also points out fond memories from various episodes as well. Most of it is fairly interesting to hear. The episodes with this option are “Undertow,” “Dog Gone,” “Moving Violation,” “Baby Food,” “Green Thumb Burglar,” “Hustle,” “Name Your Price,” “Rustling,” “Vintage ’54,” “Cry Wolf,” “Rainy Day,” “Crack-Up,” and “Flashback!”.

“Erik Estrada Profile: The Ride Out of Spanish Harlem” Featurette
This is a 12-minute featurette on Erik Estrada, of course. There are interviews with him and various people involved with the show about Erik Estrada and his journey from Spanish Harlem to “Hollywood”. Another good feature for the show’s main character. There could have been more cast involved with this features, and it would have been more entertaining but Erik Estrada was the focus of the show so it makes sense.

THE INSIDE PULSE

This show is not breaking any new ground here. Fans of Erik Estrada will no doubt want to buy this DVD set. There are only a couple of extras, so anyone looking for something more than the actual episodes here will probably be disappointed as Erik Estrada is the only star featured in the extras. Of course, if you are fan of this show you probably loved Erik Estrada’s character so that’s not really a bad thing. For casual or new viewers of the show, you should definitely rent it first before you buy to see what this show is all about.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for CHiPs: Season One
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

7
THE VIDEO

7
THE AUDIO

6
THE EXTRAS

3
REPLAY VALUE

6
OVERALL
5.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)