Saturday, May 26, 2007

Mini-DVD Review: CHiPs - The Complete First Season (June 5); Seinfeld - Season 9 Coming to DVD in November

Attention All Units: CHiPs roars onto DVD on June 5! Welcome to another edition of mini-DVD reviews. This week we take a look at Warner Home Video's CHiPs - The Complete First Season. CHiPs is the exciting action series which aired for six seasons from 1977-1983 on NBC and starred Erik Estrada ("Frank 'Ponch' Poncharello"), Larry Wilcox ("Jon Baker") and Robert Pine ("Sgt. Joseph Getraer") and had its fair share of multiple car pile-ups, high speed chases, hijacker plots and of course 1970s nostalgia. This six-disc collection includes all 22 episodes and all-new bonus features. See my mini-DVD review of CHiPs - The Complete First Season:

CHiPs - The Complete First Season

CHiPs - The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video, $39.98)

License and Registration, Please: The Kick-Start of the Six-Season Series!

Where the rubber meets the road and the bad guys meet the badge -- that's where you'll find California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers Jon (Larry Wilcox) and Ponch (Erik Estrada).

Set in the sun-drenched sprawl of Los Angeles, CHiPs combines action, heroics and fun in 22 Season One episodes whose event-packed storylines range from freeway gridlock (let's use a circus elephant to tow that broken-axled truck!) to wild roadway pursuits (who's that beautiful woman lead-footing a Rolls Royce?), from spilled onions (crying time, fellas) to pure venom (an overturned van loaded with....sssnakes!).

CHiPs, an acronym for California Highway Patrol, premiered on September 15, 1977 on NBC. A total of 139 episodes were produced over the show's six seasons. Other season one cast members included Paul Linke as Officer Arthur Grossman, Lew Saunders as Officer Gene Fritz and Brodie Greer as Officer Barry Baricza. Notable first season guest stars included Jim Backus, Richard Deacon, Broderick Crawford, Vito Scotti, Florence Halop, Gerald McRaney, Alice Ghostley, Ellen Travolta, Robbie Rist, Herb Edelman, Phyllis Diller, Gary Sandy, Edward James Olmos and Joe Penny.

The cover art features a photo of Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada. The "CHiPs" logo is in orange down the side. I'm not a big fan of the arrows all over the packaging. On the back of the box, there are 3 more photos of Estrada and Wilcox, a synopsis of the set, a listing of the special features and the DVD specs. There are 3 slim cases inside the outer cardboard box. Each slim case holds two discs and has two photos each on the front and back cover. Episode titles, writing and directing credits, original airdates and short summaries are provided on the front and back of the slim cases. There's a "P" next to the episodes that have the short introductions by Erik Estrada. Inside the slim cases, there are large photos of Estrada and Wilcox. Embedded plastic holders hold the discs. Discs 1, 3 and 5 feature Estrada and 2, 4, 6 have Wilcox on them.

The main menus feature the same photo and the CHiPs logo as the cover art. The unforgettable CHiPs theme plays in the background and then loops. This is the first season theme and not the updated disco theme they started to use in the second season. There are options for for Play (Play All), Episodes and Language. When you select Episodes, it takes you to another menu where there is another shot of Ponch and Jon. Episode titles are listed vertically in blue text. Next to select episodes, there is a microphone which you push to see the introductions by Erik Estrada. The Languages menu features Ponch and Jon and the Special Features menu on Disc 4 features Ponch, Jon and Gertraer. Chapter stops are available within the episodes, but there are no separate menus for scene selections.

It is hard to believe that CHiPs premiered nearly 30 years ago. The video and audio quality is about what you would expect given the show's age. I would say the episodes look about the same or a bit better than what I saw on TNT and TBS during the 1990's. Since the show was shot on film, there is a lot of dirt and debris and other video artifacts. While all the episodes are certainly watchable and enjoyable, I think they probably could have been cleaned up a bit more. All of the episodes appear to be unedited, running around 47-48 minutes in length. The total running time for the set is 1056 minutes. They are presented in their original broadcast order. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there is the Rosner Television logo embedded on the credits followed by the M-G-M lion. The audio is your basic 1970's mono track. I didn't notice any major problems. The episodes are closed-captioned and subtitles are available in Portuguese and Spanish. No closed-captioning or subtitles are available for the special features.

With this being the 30th Anniversary of CHiPs, I was hoping for many more special features. Unfortunately, the only cast member involved with these extras is Erik Estrada. "Ponch's Police Tips" are all-new introductions with special trivia and his reminiscences on 13 episodes. These run between 1-2 minutes in length. He is standing up in front of the California Highway Patrol center, on a motorcycle or inside the center. One of the most interesting bits of trivia he mentions is that the actor he beat out for the role was in one of the episodes. I think it would be great if they included these intros on all of the episodes and if they were a bit more detailed with trivia bits. The other special feature, "CHiPs: The Ride Out of Spanish Harlem," is found on the sixth disc. This feature runs 11 minutes, 44 seconds. This "ride" down memory lane includes all-new interviews with Author and Media Historian Herbie J Pilato and Erik Estrada. Erik talks about growing up in New York City and his decision of becoming an actor. He talks about how he auditioned for the part after losing out on some other pilots. Other topics include the on-screen chemistry between Erik and Larry, Erik's groundbreaking role for Latinos, the show's realism, and the legacy of CHiPs. While this is a nicely produced and edited feature, there probably won't be anything new for the die-hard fan.

It is a treat to have CHiPs finally available on DVD. I was never a big fan of Starsky & Hutch or The Dukes of Hazzard, but there was something about that CHiPs that drew it to me. It had just the right mix of action, drama and comedy. Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox had great on-screen chemistry and the supporting cast was excellent. If you were like me, you probably watched it religously on TNT and TBS during the 1990's. CHiPs Online was one of the first sites I ever visited on the internet and the inspiration for my own sites. Watching the episodes on DVD, it is like an all-new show to me. It has been been awhile since it's been on, so the episodes aren't really that fresh in my mind. There are a good 4-5 minutes of scenes per episode that were cut in syndication that are on the DVD. I don't think the first season was one of the best of the series, which is typical for many shows. There were better stories and the music of Alan Silvestri starting in the second season. Warner Home Video has done a decent job with the first season, but I'm hoping for bigger and better things for the future seasons. I'm sure Larry Wilcox and the rest of the cast and crew would love to reminiscence about the show. With a new film version starring Wilmer Valderrama set to begin production this year, CHiPs is sure to become a fan favorite of new generations. Be sure to support the first season release so we can get the remaining five seasons soon!

Happy 30th Anniversary to CHiPs!

-- Reviewed by Todd
(4/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
CHiPs Online
CHiPs TV.com Page
CHiPs Internet Movie Database Page
CHiPs Wikipedia Page


As we first reported in our Seinfeld - Season 8 Review, the ninth and final season will be coming in November! If Sony's previous release pattern holds, the date will be Tuesday, November 20.

Click here to see the insert included with Season 8 that shows the cover art for Season 9.

Don't forget Seinfeld - Season 8 is coming on June 5th. It is jam-packed as usual with approximately 13 hours of extras and classic episodes including "The English Patient," "The Yada Yada" and "The Muffin Tops."


New on DVD/Blu-ray (March)

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series Bewitched - Seasons 5 & 6 (Mill Creek) Maude - The Complete Series WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete First Season (Shout! Factory) The Donna Reed Show - Season 2 (MPI Home Video)

03/03 - CHiPs - The Complete Third Season
03/10 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series
03/10 - Hey Dude - The Complete Series (Walmart Exclusive)
03/10 - Petticoat Junction - Family Favorite Episodes
03/17 - Bewitched - Season 5 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Bewitched - Season 6 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Bewitched - Seasons 5 & 6 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Maude - The Complete Series (Shout! Factory)
03/17 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete First Season (Shout! Factory)
03/17 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Second Season (Shout! Factory)
03/24 - The Donna Reed Show - Season 2 (MPI Home Video)
03/31 - Silicon Valley - Season 1 (Blu-ray)
03/31 - Veep - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, March 31

Fresh Off the Boat - "Blind Spot" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Jessica's college boyfriend, Oscar Chow (guest star Rex Lee), comes to visit. She’s a bit miffed that Louis isn’t a little more jealous….but she’s got a blind spot and is completely oblivious to the fact that Oscar is gay. Meanwhile, Eddie goes to great lengths to get out of the school science fair.

New Girl - "The Right Thing" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jess crashes a funeral, hoping to delete a “sext” she recently sent to the deceased. Then, Schmidt’s mom, Louise (Nora Dunn), arrives in town for a visit to demand he write thank-you notes for his bar mitzvah gifts, and Winston is desperate to be off-duty friends with his police partner, Aly (guest star Nasim Pedrad).

Weird Loners - "Weird Pilot" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Find out what happens when a high-strung romantic, a serial womanizer, a free-spirited heartbreaker and a sheltered man-child are unexpectedly thrust into a Queens, NY, townhouse.

Undataeable - "An Imaginary Torch Walks Into a Bar" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
ustin's (Brent Morin) world is rocked when Nicki (guest star Briga Heelan) returns to Detroit and announces that she's engaged. To prove that he is cool with her moving on, Justin offers up the bar for her engagement party and Danny (Chris D'Elia) helps him make an important realization. Meanwhile, Burski (Rick Glassman) his miguided pursuit of Leslie (Bianca Kajlich), but Candace (Bridgit Mendler) helps the gang see his romantic side.

One Big Happy - "Crushing It" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
On a group trip to the gym, Lizzy (Elisha Cuthbert) spies her secret crush, Kate (guest star Erinn Hayes) and with the help of Luke (Nick Zano ), and Prudence(Kelly Brook), she initiates a conversation that leads to some plans for group bowling. Later, Luke and Prudence help get Lizzy an appointment with the best OB-GYN in the city and Lizzy is ecstatic - until they arrive to a big surprise. Meanwhile, Prudence realizes that Lizzy's pregnancy is making her feel left out and Leisha (Rebecca Corry) helps her explain her feelings to Luke.

Cougar Town - "Mary Jane's Last Dance" TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Grayson is determined to prevent Jules from running her birthday, but it will it be possible when everyone has major changes in their lives?

Sirens - "Six Feet Over/Under" (USA Network, 10:00PM ET/PT)
When Johnny's father goes into a coma, his mother places bets on the time of his death; the guys suffer an ear worm.

Younger - "Pilot" / "Liza Sows Her Oates" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
"Pilot" - 40-year-old Liza (Sutton Foster) passes herself off as 26 to land a job in the field of her dreams. Now she just has to make sure no one discovers her secret. Also stars Hilary Duff, Debi Mazar, Nico Tortorella and Miriam Shor.
"Liza Sows Her Oates" - As she settles into her new 26 year-old life, Liza is tasked with marketing an older writer to a younger audience. Although she has a perfect date with Josh, she tries to convince herself to aim for someone more age-appropriate.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 30) (All times ET unless noted)

Tuesday, March 31

  • Josh Gad (The Comedians/1600 Penn/Back to You) - Catch Josh on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about The Comedians on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. He can be heard on The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick on Sirius OutQ channel 106 sometime between 7-11am.
  • Thomas Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) and Matthew Perry (The Odd Couple/Go On/Mr. Sunshine/Friends) - Thomas and Matthew are guests on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) - Aubrey appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Rick Glassman, Bianca Kajlich and Ron Funches (Undateable) - Rick, Bianca and Ron are guests on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Chris D'Elia (Undateable/Whitney) - Chris visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on the AOL Build Show.
  • Mario Cantone (Sex and the City) - Mario joins Meredith to chat about the hottest celebrity beauty treatments and if they could be right for you on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Hilary Duff (Younger/Lizzie McGuire) - Hilary joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristn discusses On the 20th Century on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Elisha Cuthbert (One Big Happy/Happy Endings) and Nick Zano (One Big Happy/What I Like About You) - Elisha and Nick talk about One Big Happy on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. Nick can be heard on Wake Up with Taylor on Sirius Stars channel 109 sometime between 6-9am. He will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Peter Facinelli (Nurse Jackie) - Peter talks about American Odyssey on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Debi Mazar (Younger/Entourage/Working) - Debi can be heard on The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick on Sirius OutQ channel 106 sometime between 7-11am.
  • Sutton Foster and Nico Tortorella (Younger) - Sutton and Nico talk about TV Land's Younger on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Mo'Nique (The Parkers) - Mo'Nique is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Raven-SymonĂ© (That's So Raven/Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/The Cosby Show) - Raven-SymonĂ© guest co-hosts The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Caroline Rhea (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) - Caroline guest co-hosts The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Kal Penn (We Are Men/How I Met Your Mother) - Kal appears on VH1's Big Morning Buzz Live at 9am.