"CHiPS," which stood for California Highway Patrol, followed the daily beats of two state motorcycle patrolmen as they patrolled the freeway system in and around Los Angeles. Officer Jon Baker was the straight, serious officer while Frank "Ponch" Poncherello was the more free- wheeling member of the duo; both reported to Sgt. Joe Getraer, who gave out assignments and advice in handling the cases. Each episode saw a compilation of incidents, ranging from the humorous (e.g., a stranded motorist) to criminal investigations (such as hijackings) and tragic incidents (such as a fiery multi-car pile-up with multiple deaths. Other aspects of Ponch and Jon's daily work were highlighted as well; the social lives of both officers (they were both single) often provided the lighter moments. On occassion, Ponch and Jon were assisted by a female "Chippie" at first, the very beautiful Sindy Cahill; and later, the more wholesome Bonnie Clark. In 1982, Ponch got a new partner, Bobby Nelson (series star... Written by
Brian Rathjen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jon was among the first characters on a TV series to be identified as a Vietnam Veteran. The portrayal was also among the few at that time to show a Vietnam Veteran in a positive manner. Larry Wilcox who played Jon had actually done service in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine during the Tet Offensive. See more »
Throughout the series and regularly in later seasons, car crashes were shown involving vehicles getting airborne after rear-ending another vehicle. This does not happen in actual crashes. In some scenes the ramps used to launch the vehicles are visible. See more »
This was one of the shows that made up my afternoon routine as a grade-schooler in the early to mid '80s. "CHiPs Patrol" as the syndicated reruns were tagged, played every day at 4 pm, in their scratchy 16mm glory, on our local NBC affiliate, and for a little car-fixated youngster like me, it was like...well, like a car crash played in slow-motion. Literally. Set to bad disco music. The whole thing was so outrageously bad that I couldn't turn away. All the impossiblly stupid motorists doing impossibly stupid things on the sunny LA freeways, invariably ending up in a bloodless, perfectly timed explosion of the said automobile's fuel tank, held me rapt. Ah, the explosions. Large, chrome laden '70s cars flipped through air, jumping *through* telephone poles, turned into piles of twisted sheetmetal, or even just sitting there on the asphalt broken down...somehow they'd ALWAYS end up exploding spectacularly (except when they'd land in someone's swimming pool...damn physics!) with disco-horror music on the TV speaker. Even if it's a diesel powered school bus (which by definition can't explode) it's gonna explode as soon as Ponch and John courageously escort the last bowl-haircitted '70s child to safety.
Did I mention Ponch and John? Or rather Ponchenjohn? I almost forgot about them. These two suntanned, good-looking-in-a-70s-kind-of-way motorcycle cops were the viewers' guides through this wacky world of nonstop car crashes. They seemed reasonably okay, as did all their identically dressed CHP colleagues, rescuing vapid motorists when they weren't comically discussing Ponch's impending hot date or the practical birthday joke they were planning to spring on John. But the two storylines rarely mingled. Nothing of real emotional or dramatic depth ever happened. At the end of the closing credits, as the afterimage of Ponch's Pearl Drop smile begins to fade from your retina, all you can think of is: "Man, that was a beautiful '71 Trans Am they blew up."
In other words:
Mindless eye candy with a wonderfully plastic '70s sheen. Don't miss it!
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