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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The pilot of CHiPs concerns a series of heist operations where a trio successfully pose in various disguised roles (such as valets) and steal six cars each time they score, storing the vehicles in a Bushnick delivery van. California Highway Patrol Motorcycle Police Officers, Frank "Ponch" Poncherello(Erik Estrada) and Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox) could be just the ones to bring these criminals to justice. Estrada, working those pearly whites, absolute confidence, and total belief in his abilities as an officer, would become a star, his Ponch under probation for having a large "jacket" in his boss' filing cabinet. Robert Pine would be the third memorable character on the show, as Sgt. Joseph Getraer, constantly at odds with Ponch who is a showboat and blowhard, but tolerates his behavior because he is a damn fine patrolman. Baker gets a kick out of Ponch and seems to really love his job as a motorcycle cop, at one point "pulling over" a kid so that he could tell the boy to ride his bike safely down the hill. We see in the pilot that Ponch and Getraer are at odds because of the number of citations that have accrued for the young patrolman over a two year tenure motorcycle patrolling the streets and highways of San Francisco. We see a nice scene for Ponch when he calms a worried accident victim (Brooke Bundy, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET III & IV) whose VW bug was ran off the highway by a jerk on a motorcycle. There's also a humorous scene featuring Hoke Howell as a truck driver named Tex whose vehicle turned over in a wreck spilling glue all over the highway, causing a traffic jam, with Ponch having an icky mishap with his Patrol bike when it gets stuck! The storyline with the heists seems secondary to everything else going on in the episode (the activities of Ponch and Baker, on and off the street). The pilot opened with a nice, spirited pursuit as one of the thieves the police are looking for had stolen a convertible and was trying to evade Ponch and Baker, able to escape their clutches. Some mighty fine camera-work really gets in close and personal with the characters and on the roads where Ponch and Baker drive, looking to keep the highways and streets safe. This first episode really sets up Ponch as the comic foil and Baker the straight man, along with Pine as the frustrated superior who just wants his officers to keep out of trouble. Hilarious climax has Ponch really snookering the thieves by driving them literally to jail. Ponch spends most of the pilot counting down the days until his probation will be lifted as his boss reminds him to not screw up.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The show opens with two California Highway Patrol motor officers
chasing after a speeding Porsche. After speeding in and out between
cars on the highway, the Porches speeds off the highway. One of the
officers swerves to chase after the speeder, but falls over when his
motor hits the curb. He immediately rights himself but loses the
Porches somewhere in downtown LA. "Ponch" complains about how the
speeder got away while his partner Jon tells him he's lucky to be
As the officers arrive, they find the morning briefing already in progress. The sergeant tells the officers about a gang of sports car thieves. As "Frank" tries to leave the briefing, he asks him about riding his CHP motor in the dirt last night and warns him not to blow probation with only two days left.
When Ponch returns to headquarters, he's riding in a CHP pickup with his motor in back. The sergeant is waiting for him on the steps. He brings Ponch and Jon into his office and shows them Ponch's huge file. After a lecture, Ponch storms out. As they head out to the garage to talk to the mechanic, Chuck, Jon tries to make the sarge realize that Ponch has been a good officer for the six months they've been partners while Ponch was on probation.
Out on the streets, Ponch is riding the sarge's motor. When a guy on a motorcycle speeds by, they chase after him. He causes a VW Bug to roll over. Ponch gives the cyclist a hard time until Jon tells him to take care of the driver. He can't get the woman out of the car so he keeps her company by explaining how his name is Poncherello and how he's been on the patrol for two years.
After the game, Ponch hits on a woman who thinks he's a lawyer. Jon joins in and ruins his fun.
At Sunday morning's briefing, the sergeant informs everyone of more sports car thefts. As Ponch and Jon head out, they pull over a six year- old and tell him to keep to the right side of the road. When a truck that looks like the one that had the oil leak is spotted by another officer, Ponch and Jon head off to find it so they can get a picture of it to prove Ponch's argument.
As they try to pull over the truck, the passenger dumps his beer all over Ponch. After pulling them over, they make the driver and passenger get out. They realize the plate is wrong. Ponch and Jon put the facts together and realize that the car thieves were in the "Bushkin" van they stopped yesterday.
After the thieves spot a CHP cruiser, they abandon the trailer of their truck and take off. Ponch and Jon chase after them through the city and manage to lead them right into the Los Angeles County Jail parking lot to arrest them.
When Ponch and Jon return to headquarters, the sergeant says that they've earned commendations and that Ponch's probation is over.
This is the first episode on CHiPs.This is a time when Ponch was more of a comedic character rather than a macho character as what happened to the next seasons ahead.
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