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)

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

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."


Sitcoms Airing Tonight / Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows

Friday, June 21

none scheduled

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 17)

Friday, June 21

  • Pamela Adlon (Better Things/King of the Hill/The Facts of Life) - Watch Pamela on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Ron Howard (Arrested Development/Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Ron is a guest on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Will Ferrell (The Office) - Will appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Martin Short (Only Murders in the Building/Mulaney/I'm a Big Girl Now/The Associates) - Martin is a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher at 10pm on HBO.
  • Sandra Bernhard (Roseanne) and Judy Gold (All-American Girl) - Sandra and Judy are guests on ABC's Good Morning America some time between 7-9am.
  • Eva Longoria (Only Murders in the Building/Telenovela) - Eva talks about Land of Women on The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • George Lopez (Lopez vs Lopez/Lopez/Saint George/George Lopez) and Mayan Lopez (Lopez vs Lopez) - George and Mayan talk about their hit NBC sitcom Lopez vs Lopez on a repeat of Sherri, so check your local listings.
  • Jenifer Lewis (I Love That for You/black-ish/The PJs) - Jenifer is joining Drew to talk about taking her inspirational journey and miraculous recovery after a devastating fall while on vacation a few years ago on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Nicole Ari Parker (And Just Like That.../Second Time Around) - Nicole discusses her Gymwrap sweatband line on a repeat of Access Daily with Mario & Kit, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series Check It Out! - The Complete Series The Jeffersons - The Complete Series (2024 Release) Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Series (2024 Release)

01/09 - South Park - Seasons 11-15 (Blu-ray)
01/16 - Ghosts (UK) - Season Five
02/13 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
02/27 - The Really Loud House - Season One
03/12 - Ghosts (UK) - The Complete Series
03/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 3 (Blu-ray)
03/12 - Rick and Morty - Season 7 (Blu-ray Steelbook) (Blu-ray) (DVD)
04/03 - Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series (VEI)
04/08 - Check It Out! - The Complete Series (VEI)
05/21 - Frasier (2023) - Season One
06/11 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series (2024 Release)
06/11 - Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Series (2024 Release)

More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

06/20 - Hallmark's Christmas in July Stunt; Starz's Power Book II: Ghost Final Season Premieres Strong
06/19 - Dark Side of the 90s Returns in July; Resident Alien Moving to USA Network
06/18 - NBCUniversal Renews Access Hollywood Through 2026; Netflix Picks Up More of The Great Indian Kapil Show
06/17 - Hit-Monkey Season 2 Returns July 15; Disney+ Animated Comedy Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures Season 2
06/16 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 17, 2024)
06/15 - SitcomsOnline Digest: NBC Orders Additional St. Denis Medical Episodes; The Tonight Show Renewed Through 2028
06/14 - Paramount+ School Spirits Season 2 Underway; Prime Video Gets Betty la Fea Continuation
06/13 - Prime Video Has a Sausage Party; UnPrisoned Trailer for Season 2
06/12 - CBS Announces Hollywood Squares Host; After Midnight Renewed for 2024-25
06/11 - 40th Annual TCA Awards Nominees; E! Gets Comedic Denise Richards Docuseries
06/10 - Rachael Leigh Cook to Star in Feature-Length Romantic Comedy for Fox; Psi Cops Premieres July 7 on Adult Swim
06/09 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 10, 2024)
06/08 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The Upshaws Renewed for 12 Final Episodes; Beavis and Butt-Head Moving to Comedy Central
06/07 - Apple TV+ Renews Palm Royale for Season 2; Peacock Orders Season 4 for Kevin Hart Talker
06/06 - Emily in Paris Season 4 Drops August 15; Criminal Minds: Evolution Renewed
06/05 - Bounce TV Comedy Mind Your Business Airing Now; Onyx Collective's Queenie Debuts Friday
06/04 - Netflix Adds to The Four Seasons Cast; The CW Renews All American and Penn & Teller: Fool Us
06/03 - Max Renews Hacks for Season 4; Prime Video Orders Kevin from Aubrey Plaza
06/02 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 3, 2024)
06/01 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Prime Video and Netflix Order New Animated Series; MeTV Toons Lineup Released
05/31 - Friends: The Complete Series Comes to 4K Ultra HD on September 24; The Bear Sets Season One Marathon on the FX Linear Channel
05/30 - Camp Snoopy Premieres June 14 on Apple TV+; Remembering Elizabeth MacRae of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
05/29 - Fremantle Celebrates the Second Annual National Game Show Day on June 1; Billy Bob Thornton's Sling Blade Makes Streaming Debut
05/28 - Hulu Celebrates Grown-ish Finale with Collections; My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman Returns June 12
05/27 - Memorial Day 2024 TV Sitcom Marathons
05/26 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 27, 2024)
05/25 - SitcomsOnline Digest: A Look at Season 3 of The Bear; The Munsters Headed Toward a Reboot, Again
05/24 - HBO Premieres New Comedy Series on June 7; The CW Renews Wild Cards
05/23 - Amazon Orders Nick Cannon Talk Show; Red Nose Day 10 Year Special Airs Tonight
05/22 - Netflix Comedy Tires Gets Season 2 Ahead of Season 1 Launch; HBO's Industry Returning in August
05/21 - HBO Orders Steve Carell Comedy Series; Bad Monkey Gets Premiere Date
05/20 - The Thundermans Gets Spinoff Series; Remembering Dabney Coleman