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Cherry Pop

'CHiPs: The Complete Fourth Season'
(Larry Wilcox, Erik Estrada, Robert Pine, Paul Linke, Brodie Greer, et al / 5-DVD / NR / 2016 / Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

Overview: Gear up for more'70s-era action-packed adventures with Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox as TV's favorite California Highway Patrol officers Frank "Ponch" Poncharello and Jon Baker in season four of 'CHiPs'.

DVD Verdict: Who out there could honestly say they disliked the TV show, 'CHiPs'?! Nobody, that's who! With 'CHiPs' the California Highway Patrol got the best PR they could ever hope for in this classic buddy cop show from the 1970s. Built on comedy and riveting freeway chases, Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada starred as officers Jon Baker and Frank "Ponch" Poncherrello.

The series immediately found an audience, especially with children because of it's fantastic car chases and entertaining action stunts. It was guaranteed that a car would flip over or someone got thrown off a bike or flopped face first into cement in every episode. It didn't matter if they were so obviously staged, no one else was doing such things back in those days so it was fun to see it on 'CHiPs.' There just had to be chase on the freeways in each episode, and they surprisingly hold up today. I guess a high speed chase at over 90 mph in 1977 is the same as one that happens in 2015!

That's another thing, watching this series it's amazing how little life in North America has changed in the past 35+ years. Only the fashions, music and obviously some media oriented (internet, fast computers, flat screen plasma and LCD TVs, palm pilots, etc) electronic technology has changed. Otherwise look at how life in 1977 is still so much the same as 2015. It's weird watching Ponch and Jon today and reflecting that I'm now around the *same age* (freaky!) as those guys were back then (late 20s-early 30s). I see them in an entirely different light today then when I viewed this show as a child, as I can relate to more of their life and understand their still relatively young adult problems.

Anyway, here in the fourth season, among the action this season is a special two-part episode where the two friends and motorcycle cops have to deal with a gigantic boulder that threatens the homes and highway below it, as a celebrity bicycle rally and fundraiser goes on! Plus, crop vandalism, theft of construction equipment, kidnapping of one of their fellow officers, a neighborhood crime watch group that spawns a vigilante movement and the possibility that the California coast is fertile territory for a smuggling ring. Also starring Robert Pine, Paul Linke, Brodie Greer, Lou Wagner and Randi Oakes, season four features guest stars Sonny Bono and Larry Storch (F Troop), among others.

Infused with the same light-hearted subplots of the past, 'CHiPs: The Complete Third Season' brings you entertaining action-drama at its finest. And I mean that quite literally, as 'CHiPs - The Complete Fourth Season' simply is more sophisticated. The hairstyles and all the co-stars are better looking (sorry, but they are!), plus all the CHP cruisers are better looking and more upgraded than the CHP units they used in the first 3 seasons. Since this was the season when CHiPs started using '79 Dodge Monaco's instead of the older cheesy looking Dodge's that were used in Seasons 1 thru 3, they stand out as being much more, well, upgraded!

In closing, sure 'CHiPs' had a tendency to be cheesy, especially with the way Erik Estrada hammed it up as Ponch. But who cared, Estrada and Wilcox had terrific on screen chemistry (even if they didn't get along in real life; which it's said they actually didn't!), that you just were glued to TV to watch these guys chase bad guys. Also, throughout this entire third season, as I'm pretty sure happened in the entire series run, our friendly cops never drew their guns and the violence was almost non-existent. This is a series that could never be made today. You got the day off from work and it's raining outside, time to watch an episode of 'CHiPs.'

Each episode contains four or five incidents, both on the job and off, with violence downplayed in favor of human interest and the humorous aspects of their work. Jon is pretty straightforward and serious, while Ponch is the romantic with a happy-go-lucky attitude that is not always appreciated by their superior, Sgt. Getraer (Robert Pine).

The 5-DVD box set contains all 21 episodes from the 1980-1981 season. Individual episodes involve Ponch and Jon getting assistance from Native Americans, a problematic boulder, a kidnapping by a biker gang, arsonists burning down mobile homes, the training of a female motorcycle officer, and a hitman targeting Sgt. Getraer. The series ran from September, 1977 through July, 1983.

BTW,did you know that the word "Chippie" as slang for CHP officer dates to the 1950s or earlier, but was rarely used until popularized by this show. The word "CHiP" was coined by the producers after the network balked at the name "Chippies". No, nor did I! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.