An advanced prototype police helicopter and their ground support crew battle crime.

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Complete series cast summary:
James Farentino ...  Frank Chaney 11 episodes, 1984
Dana Carvey ...  Clinton 'JAFO' Wonderlove 11 episodes, 1984
Sandy McPeak ...  Captain Braddock 11 episodes, 1984
Dick Butkus ...  Richard 'Ski' Butowski 11 episodes, 1984
Bubba Smith ...  Lyman 'Bubba' Kelsey 11 episodes, 1984
Ann Cooper ...  J.J. Douglas 10 episodes, 1984


Lt. Frank Chaney of the LAPD is a maverick cop with unorthodox methods who is assigned to the Blue Thunder Team, which uses a very advanced gadget-filled helicopter in its fight against crime. "Blue Thunder" is capable of great speed and maneuverability, can run silently in "whisper mode", and is armed with the most powerful weapons in development. His partner is a fresh-faced rookie with the improbable name of Wonderlove, and ground support is supplied by ex-athletes Ski and Bubba, who drive a sophisticated van. Written by Marty McKee <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

6 January 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das fliegende Auge See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(11 episodes)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Richard Lynch, who played the PVC in the pilot episode, also played the another villain in the season 3 premiere of another high tech attack helicopter show Airwolf. See more »


PVC: Well what's that bird Chaney? You look like you're flying my Grandmother's old wringle washer!
See more »


Featured in MacGyver: Pilot (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

Not too bad
6 December 2017 | by MovieBuffMarineSee all my reviews

LOOSELY based on the 1983 movie of the same name, the Blue Thunder TV series portrayed the title helicopter in a positive light in contrast to the movie which was dark and gritty.

Like most TV shows based on movies, this was NOT meant as a sequel, but alternate reality to the events and plot of the movie.

With the super vehicle genre underway; NBC's Knight Rider was in its second season; and with Airwolf set to premiere on CBS two weeks later, ABC's answer was reversing the dark theme of the movie and have the helicopter fight crime as was intended.

The result was another cop show, but with a super helicopter. But unlike most cop shows of the time, this one was not too dark or too violent, it was fun! It was really the antithesis of what the movie was about which was using the "Special" in an abusive government manner. For TV, the Special was going to fight for truth and justice!

Unlike other TV shows based on movies with the same name, the characters and their names were changed. James Farentino plays a convincing role as Frank Chaney, the pilot for Blue Thunder. Dana Carvey of Saturday Night Live fame plays his systems officer, JAFO Wonderlove. (While there was a JAFO in the movie, the name was Lymangood.)

The only other character from the movie besides the helicopter to (seemingly) make it to the TV series is Captain Braddock played by Sandy McPeak. Like the role originated by the late Warren Oates, McPeak's Braddock was a force to be reckoned with as the main pilot's boss. (Though McPeak resembled Oates and his character was just as gruff, his take was just as different.)

Rounding off the Blue Thunder team is a ground support crew played by Bubba Smith and Dick Butkus.

I recently caught the series on DVD. While dated, the stories in my opinion were very watchable. Like many shows of the time, there were "yeah right" moments that were incredulous even for artistic license. But you can get enjoy them easily.

Unlike most other cop shows of the time, this one didn't have support of real law enforcement in the use of their facilities or technical support. But then again, how do you get technical support for a helicopter that does not exist?

While the episodes had a watchable quality to them, unfortunately they were not too original. Some of the plots you could have seen in other cop shows (minus the helo). While the show appeared to have original flight scenes (interspersed with stock or unused footage from the movie), it was apparent the show was on a budget. Later episodes did the re-use of stock footage act (more) common to shows with special effects and flight scenes of the time.

I echo some of the other reviewers that the show suffered from competition from other super vehicle shows. While this did not air on the same night on those other shows, sometimes people can take in only so much state-of-the-art vehicles in one week.

Whether there was competition from other super vehicles or not, the series could have continued if the writing was better. Superb writing leads to more viewers as a result, great ratings, especially when they involved super vehicles. When all you have is a vehicle ahead of its time, but don't have a story, then your buck ends right there. Or when your stories are identical to other cop series, you might as well stick to them.

When viewed as a different story from the movie, and different premise than the other super vehicle shows, this was not a bad fare.

A good show that could have been better.

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