'CHiPs' First Episode: THR's 1977 Review
On Sept. 15, 1977, NBC revved up a new one-hour police drama, CHiPs, featuring Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox. The Hollywood Reporter's original review is below.
CHiPs stands (in new-series TV-Code) for California Highway Patrol motorcycle cops — in this case, two in particular: Frank "Ponch" Poncherello, played by Erik Estrada (he's the ladies' man with the daredevil streak and a Latin temper), and Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox), the conscientious type and graduate of the Jim Nabors school of smiling.
Born from the network's new anti-violence policy, these "chippies" never draw their guns. They let their bikes do the talking instead, whether careening on the freeways to aid an overturned glue truck, or hot on the highways after a stolen-car ring. And all the while thinking up new ways to explain their latest fender benders to their bark-worse-than-bite sergeant-cum-buddy Joe Getraer (Robert Pine).
As directed in the opener by Paul Krasney, the talented actors wage a losing battle against an embarrassing concept.
Creator Rick Rosner produces for Rosner TV and MGM. Paul Playdon takes responsibility for the script; Robert F. Sparks takes the credit for some occasionally excellent mobile photography.
Outlook: Poor, even without The Waltons, Welcome Back, Kotter and What's Happening!! for competition. — Richard Hack, originally published on Sept. 14, 1977.