Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mini-DVD Review: CHiPs - The Complete Second Season (June 3); Warner Bros. Photo Collection Shop

Welcome to another edition of mini-DVD reviews. Frank "Ponch" Poncherello and Jon Baker are back with their aviator goggles and polyester beige uniforms when Warner Home Video releases CHiPs - The Complete Second Season on June 3, 2008. The comedic crime drama asks you to dig out your license and registration as Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox return as Ponch and Jon to patrol the street of Los Angeles. CHiPs - The Complete Second Season includes all 22 episodes from the second season plus all-new bonus features in a 4-disc collection. See my mini-DVD review of CHiPs - The Complete Second Season:

CHiPs - The Complete Second Season

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

Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox return as Ponch and Jon, and the action and fun are ready to roll in 22 road-ripping episodes. Also returning: Robert Pine as amiable Sgt. Getraer. Strap on helmets and goggles for a deadly chain-reaction crash, the appearance of a pesky TV-news crew, Ponch's disco dancing, Halloween patrol and a caped biker daredevil. Remember: safety first. And always signal before turning.

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 two cast members included Lew Saunders as Officer Gene Fritz, Brodie Greer as Officer Barry Baricza and Paul Linke as Officer Arthur Grossman. Joining the cast in season two were Brianne Leary as Officer Sindy Cahill and Lou Wagner as police mechanic Harlan Arliss. CHiPs finished in 25th place in ratings with a 20.3 rating for the second season. Notable second season guest stars included Christopher Knight, Danny Bonaduce (making the first of two appearances), Marvin Kaplan, Regis Philbin, Lauri Hendler, Robbie Rist, Tony O'Dell, Jenilee Harrison, Ike Eisenmann, Ken Kercheval, Randi Oakes (who would join the cast in season 3 as Officer Bonnie Clark), Ned Glass, Jenny O'Hara, Markie Post, Michael Conrad, Tom Poston and Robert Donner.

The cover art features a publicity photo of Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox. The "CHiPs" logo is in light blue near the center. The Complete Second Season is in a badge in the upper left corner. On the back of the box, there is another publicity still of Wilcox and Estrada and a small screenshot of Estrada, Wilcox, Pine, Linke and Leary. There is a synopsis of the set, listing of the special features and the DVD specs listed. They have arrows like the season 1 packaging, which I wasn't a big fan of last time. Instead of 3 slim cases like season 1, there are only 2 this time so the packaging is a bit thinner. Each slim case holds two discs in embedded plastic holders. Since discs 1-3 are double-sided, there are no photos on them. Disc 4, with the special features, has the "CHiPs" logo in light blue and a lime green background. Episode titles, writing and directing credits, original airdates and short summaries are provided on the front and back of the slim cases.

The main menus feature the same photo and the CHiPs logo as the cover art, although part of Erik Estrada is cropped out. The updated CHiPs season two theme song with a disco beat plays in the background for 1:09 and then loops. There are options to Play All of the episodes and a Languages section. Unlike season 1, there are no separate episodes menu. The episode titles are listed vertically in green text. A yellow badge is next to the episode or option you highlight. It turns lime green upon your selection. Erik Estrada is featured on the Languages menu. Chapter stops are available within the episodes, but there are no separate menus for scene selections.

With these episodes being around 30 years old, the video and audio quality is about what you would expect given the show's age. I would say the quality is on par or slightly improved from the season one set. These episodes look a little better than what I remember seeing on TNT and TBS during the 1990's. Since the show was shot on film, there is a lot of dirt, debris and other digital artifacts. While all the episodes are certainly watchable and enjoyable, I think they probably could have been cleaned up a bit more with some digital remastering. Nearly all of the episodes have running times of around 48 and 1/2 minutes in length. Only "Trick or Treak" runs a minute shorter at 47:34. Hopefully there is nothing edited out of the episode. The total running time of all the episodes is 1,066 minutes. On the Languages menu, you can choose from English, Español and Português. Subtitles are available in English (for the hearing impaired), Français, Español and Português. The bonus material is not rated and may not be subtitled. 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. Composer Alan Silvestri wrote the music for most of the second season episodes.

Special features are found on disc four. There is really only one new special feature with new interviews with Erik Estrada and members of the real CHP (California Highway Patrol). They list "The Greatest Adventures of CHiPs" as a special feature, although this was just a regular feature-length special episode. It is basically just a flashbacks episode.

The Real CHiPS (15:26) - This new featurette has interviews with Erik Estrada and members of the CHP. Lieutenant Greg Hammond, Officer Aaron Braahsma, Officer Adriana McNurlin, Public Affairs Officer Alex Delgadillo, Sergeant Shawn Holloway and Officer Kris Ulibarri are interviewed. They talk about the history of the CHP, the high failure rate and the difficulty in becoming a member of the CHP, the dangers and stresses of the job, making traffic stops and the difficulty in riding a motorcycle. Erik Estrada visits the CHP Central Station where they shot the show (although it is a new structure and the offices have since been demolished) and gives a tour. They show the reporting writing room, the keys rack, Sergeants room, training room and briefing room. They discuss the differences between the BMW motorcycles that they currently use with the Kawasaki 100's they used on the show. Ponch and Jon made it look so easy on the show but watching this featurette will give you a new appreciation of all the hard work they do on the job.

"The Greatest Adventures of CHiPS" (1:37:04) - A Sustained Superior Achievement Award for the guys has fellow CHPers remembering Ponch and Jon's exploits, as flashbacks recount the coolest cases of Seasons One and Two. This episode aired on May 12, 1979. This is certainly the most least rerun episode of the series. TNT and TBS never aired it for a number of years. It is basically just a flashbacks episode, but it is fun to watch.

Final Comments: Everything was better about the second season of CHiPs. There was more action and stunts, better storylines, an updated theme song with a disco beat and better music, and more notable guest stars. They had the right mix of action, drama and comedy. It is too bad that Brianne Leary was only on the show for one season. She was cute and charming.

This is another pretty good release that is priced affordably. I'm not a fan of the double-sided discs that can scratch easily, but at least they are releasing full seasons and not those half season sets. This would be a better set with 3 slimcases and 6 single-sided discs. It is great that Erik Estrada has participated in the special features on both seasons, but where is the rest of the cast? Hopefully with a new feature film starring Wilmer Valderrama as Ponch expected to be released in early 2009, we will see the third season available at that time with the involvement of other cast members.

-- 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


CHiPs Vol. 1: Season Two, 1978-79

If you are a fan of the second season music, you might want to check out Film Score Monthly's CD release by composer Alan Silvestri.


 Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada

Please also check out http://www.wbphotocollection.com/ to see how you can purchase great images from CHiPs and other TV series and movies.


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