1 9 7 7 – 1 9 8 3 (USA)
138 x 60 minute episodes
This NBC drama about two California Highway Patrol (CHiP) motorcycle Police Officers working out of Los Angeles starred Erik Estrada as devil-may-care Officer Francis ‘Ponch’ Poncherello and Larry Wilcox as the more down to earth Officer Jonathan Baker.
Together the duo patrolled the highways and byways around the vast Los Angeles freeway system on motorbikes. The action was divided between enforcing the law and eyeing the City of Angels’ foxy ladies.
Ponch and Baker were an effective team but Ponch was constantly in hot water with his no-nonsense sergeant, Joe Gertraer (Robert Pine).
Typical of its time the series downplayed the violent aspect of a policeman’s lot to concentrate on the ‘human interest’ and humorous elements of their work although the action was beefed up with auto-crashes galore.
Michael Dorn, who would go on to find success in Star Trek: The Next Generation starred as Officer Turner from 1980 to 1982.
Estrada fell out with the studio over pay and was replaced by former Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner as Officer Steve McLeish, but this proved temporary and Estrada returned.
Wilcox then left permanently, was briefly replaced by Tom Reilly as Officer Bobby “Hot Dog” Nelson and former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Tina Gayle as officer Kathleen Linahan, and in 1983, the series was cancelled.
The duo returned in 1999 – and after 15 years you’d figure these guys would’ve been promoted, but no – in the movie CHiPS 99 they were still writing tickets.
LA was a badder place of course, and the boys were fatter, slower and not even slightly funny anymore. Estrada and Wilcox put up the money to make this film themselves. Enough said.
Officer Jon Baker
Officer Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello
Sgt Joe Getraer
Officer Sindy Cahill
Officer Bonnie Clark
Officer Bobby ‘Hot Dog’ Nelson
Officer Steve McLeish
Officer Kathy Linahan