DVD Review: CHiPs - The Complete First Season
Release Date: June 5, 2007
Distributor: Warner Brothers
· Erik Estrada
· Larry Pine
· Robert Pine
· IMDb: CHiPS
by Chad Maddux
Published: June 1, 2007
Of all the many professions I wanted to be when I was growing up, there was one that outshined all the others: a motorcycle cop. I remember the days of riding my bicycle down the street, "blinking" my fingers as if they were lights while making the siren noises myself. For one of my birthdays, I even got a set of lights and a siren for my bike. We didn't have motorcycle cops (at the time) in my hometown. So why was I so fascinated?
The best part? My best friend had a bike too. You can take it from there. We weren't always partners though. Sometimes, I needed someone to stop.
"Attention Hollywood Freeway Units: Seven Mary Three and Four now in pursuit. Southbound at Vermont."
Those words from dispatch launched this new series on September 15, 1977. CHiPs is the acronym coined by producers to represent the California Highway Patrol. "Chippies", a term used since the 1950s, was rebuffed by NBC executives.
The show stars Larry Wilcox as Officer Jon Baker and Erik Estrada as Officer Frank Poncherello, better known to the world as Ponch. Their sergeant is Getraer, played by Robert Pine. The series lasted just six seasons after ratings began to drop in the last two seasons. Ponch was briefly replaced in the fifth season during a contract dispute. Jon was replaced for the final season after Wilcox left the show over a dispute with Estrada.
As the series premieres on DVD, the first season release contains all 22 episodes that originally aired through April 1, 1978. When the theme music began to play for the first time in nearly a decade, I actually got goosebumps.
Jon and Ponch are partnered because Ponch is on six-months probation for one of his many on-the-job accidents. In the premiere episode, he has just a couple of days left. Unfortunately, he'll damage his bike twice during this episode and end up back on probation, partnered with Jon once again.
I love the series because it has (almost) the perfect mix of bike-ridin' action and drama, although some episodes can stray too long from the bikes. Although I'm now into my...uhh, mid-twenties, I still wish I was a motorcycle cop so watching the action is my favorite part.
All of the episodes from this season were fun with a couple of standouts. "Cry Wolf" featured a series of phony police reports that cause problems. And near the end of the season, Ponch teams up with Getraer after Jon is injured. While riding with the Sargeant, Ponch's wild riding gets first-hand scrutiny.
It's definitely the '70s throughout this season. The cars, the clothes, the hairstyles, the music, and, oh mercy, the dancing. But that doesn't distract from the shows appeal. Adding to the fun, Erik Estrada took a break from his D-list celebrity reality shows to add some trivia and commentary on select episodes from this season.
This release is packaged on six discs providing over 17 hours of entertainment. The video quality, at times, appears better than TV quality but never approaches movie quality. Some scenes, however, look hazy and grainy. Currently priced online under $30, the first season of CHiPs is an easy recommendation. If you were a fan of the show or ever wanted to be a cop (read: "if you are male"), it's an enjoyable series. And if you've got a younger son, the show is clean. Although it is not rated, it would probably be TV-PG for Violence, maybe even TV-G.
David Fourteen, I'm code four. (That was my callsign. Ah, memories.)