Before an assembly of police brass that includes his boss Captain Braddock, LA chopper pilot Frank Chaney demonstrates the Blue Thunder, an advanced attack helicopter with powerful ... See full summary »


(as Gilbert Shilton)


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Episode cast overview:
Sandy McPeak ...
Ann Cooper ...
David Wiley ...
Senator Dudley Martin
Robert Balderson ...
Major McLove
Watch Commander
Ken Letner ...
The Minister


Before an assembly of police brass that includes his boss Captain Braddock, LA chopper pilot Frank Chaney demonstrates the Blue Thunder, an advanced attack helicopter with powerful surveillance equipment and a 20-mm. Gatling cannon capable of shredding anything. The demonstration goes well despite some hot-dogging by Chaney to the displeasure of Braddock. Braddock, Chaney, and his new co-pilot Clinton Wonderlove (nicknamed JAFO for Just Another Foolish Observer) are teamed with a ground support unit of officers Richard Butowski and Lyman Kelsi as the city is attacked by an old enemy of Chaney, who goes by the name PVC and flies a former Army attack plane that can destroy Blue Thunder. Written by Michael Daly

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Release Date:

6 January 1984 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Blue Blunder!
16 July 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If you enjoyed director John Badham's exciting, first-rate chopper movie "Blue Thunder" with Roy Scheider and Daniel Stern, forget this whirly-gig of a spin-off. Handsome James Farentino of "Cool Million" and Dana Carvey of the "Wayne's World" comedies, are cast respectively as pilot Frank Chaney and the computer whiz kid Clinton Wonderlove in the new Blue Thunder Unit. Basically, in this pilot episode, we see flying clichés with Chaney thumping his chest as the hard-nosed, insubordinate, but highly skilled maverick pilot who rarely sees eye-to-eye with his harried boss, Captain Ed Braddock (Sandy McPeak of "The Osterman Weekend"). Braddock prides himself on adhering to the letter of the law. Actually, Braddock appears to be the only character held over from the theatrical feature, and McPeak inherited the role from the late Warren Oates. Poor Carvey amounts to Chaney's 'Man Friday' and Chaney constantly belittles him as "JAFO." "JAFO" means 'just another frustrated observer,' because this family friendly television series could not spout the F-word. Worst of all, ex-NFL legends Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith are respectively but inadequately cast as Richard 'Ski' Butowski and Lyman 'Bubba' Kelsey, the ground squad of the Unit called Rolling Thunder. They deserve to be called rolling thunder because they generate about as much chemistry between them as would fill an empty test tube, and they cannot tackle a single line without sounding like they were wrestling with cue cards. Of course, these two are bickering constantly with each other about one thing or another. For example, Ski wants to store his pigskin in Bubba's locker because he has no room in his own locker. They fared no better in the second episode;however, they do grow into their characters by the third episode.

The first episode recycles some of the stuff from the movie version for the pilot, particularly the scene at the gunnery range when our hero proves his aerial marksmanship. Essentially, this pilot concerns the introduction of the hardware and a different Federal agency--APEX--from the evil one in the theatrical feature. The action pits the Blue Thunder Unit against a madman known only as P.V.C. (Richard Lynch of the Chuck Norris' actioneer "Invasion U.S.A," who flies an A-I Mohawk attack plane. Richard Lynch could have phoned in his lines. It seems that bad blood exists between P.V.C. and our gung-ho hero. Of course, Blue Thunder wastes most of its time in the skies with the heroes and villains slinging lead and missiles at each other. The byplay between the hero and villain is negligible and the fireworks between Farentino and his hidebound boss is even more forgettable. Captain Braddock wants to catch P.V.C. by the book, while hard-bitten Chaney is willing to ignore the book to get the job done. P.V.C. has a field day blowing regular police helicopters out of the sky. He evens shoots up the funeral of one of the regular chopper pilots. The production values are mininal. The interior shots of the cockpit in both Blue Thunder and the Mohawk were clearly lensed on a studio set. Absolutely nothing about this predictable, follow-the-numbers series that crashed and burned after eleven episodes is in the least bit provocative. Initially, I saw this tripe as a kid and thought it was fun, but watching it on DVD in the new box set, I realize that I could probably have lived another 100 years and missed this one-dimensional, prefabricated police procedural drama that takes a fantastic premise and screws it up royally.

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