DVD Review: CHiPs (The Complete Fourth Season)

While CHiPs is considered iconic ’70s television, it didn’t ride off into the California sunset as the 1979 television season wrapped up. Turns out the adventures of motorcycle cops Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Erik Estrada) and Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox) kept cruising the highways and freeways of Los Angeles into the ’80s. The show was rather seamless as it hit the decade speedbump. They didn’t go all ’80s with Jon and Ponch becoming darker as they adopted a new wave lifestyle and pursued cocaine dealers. CHiPs: The Complete Forth Season is the same series with Sgt. Getraer (Robert Pine) riding his top two patrolmen. This was the last of the calm seasons for the show. Season Five would have Erik Estrada walk off the show in a contract dispute. He’d be temporarily replaced by Olympic star Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn Jenner). The sixth and final season had Larry Wilcox quit. This boxset brings back the good times when crimes in Los Angeles weren’t so victimy.

“Go-Cart Terror” has the guys putting together a go-cart race except crime gets in the way. The big guest stars are Larry Storch (F Troop), future Congressman Sonny Bono and future Klingon Michael Dorn (Warf). “The Poachers” has Jon and Ponch doing the work of game wardens. “The Great 5K Star Race and Boulder Wrap Party” is another two part episode that’s all about getting famous faces on the screen. This is what actors did between Battle of the Network Stars. The familiar faces include Ken Berry, Don Galloway (Ironside), Tina Louise (Gilligan’s Islands), Alex Rocco, Conrad Bain, Todd Birdges, Gary Burghoff, Ruth Buzzi, Elinor Donahue, Nancy Kulp, Gil Gerard, George Papard, Audrey Landers, Judy Landers, Peter Marshall, Vic Taybeck and Brett Somers. Milton Berle has a giant rock against his house. “Satan’s Angels” has Office Bonnie Clark (Randi Oakes) finally get a episode about herself. Trouble is she’s the focus because a biker gang has nabbed her. More importantly is Heather Locklear appearing. “Forty Tons of Terror” is about a gang swiping construction equipment. Among the trouble is Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street) and Chris Mulkey (Patti Rocks and Twin Peaks. “Sharks” has the boys involved with drug smugglers while out swimming around. Thankfully they get help from Richard Roundtree (Shaft).

“Ponch’s Angels” is a two-parter that has him training female officers that include Barbi Benton (Playboy After Dark). “Karate” is rather funny as Ponch uses the power of martial arts to get kids to embrace clean living. This message is completely lost on Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family). “The Hawk and the Hunter” deals with crop dusting. But what matters is that Dwight Schultz gives a pre-A-Team performance where he’s only slightly crazy. “Vigilante” is the classic cop script about a released criminal wanting a piece of the cop that sent him into the joint. The bad guy coming after Getraer might be Michael Cole who was the good guy on The Mod Squad. “A Simple Operation” is Getraer in trouble when someone messes with a patient in his semi-private room. This is a warning to way you should always go out-patient.

CHiPs: The Complete Forth Season is great fluffy cop action. There’s a lightness to the episodes that is rarely achieved in today’s police procedurals. Jon and Ponch aren’t going into dark places. They might have their moments of doubt, but neither will be confused with The Bad Lieutenant. This lightness is what makes CHiPs perfect for just resting your brain after a busy day at work. You don’t need to think too hard or feel that much for the characters. The real drama would come off screen over the next two seasons. But for the fourth outing, things remained California cool as they zip around the asphalt keeping drivers safe.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers look better than the episodes airing on Me-TV in the afternoons. You’ll see the details of Los Angeles entering the ’80s. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You’ll hear a lot of motorcycles revving. The episodes are subtitled.

No bonus features.

Warner Home Video presents CHiPs: The Complete Forth Season. Starring: Larry Wilcox, Erik Estrada, Robert Pine, Paul Linke, Brodie Greer. Boxset Contents: 21 Episodes on 5 DVDs. Released: March 15, 2016.