Let’s end the week with something a bit more fun. For me, anyway.
I’m not a huge cop show fan though I watched more as a kid when that’s what my parents had on. 1980s cop shows weren’t burdened with stuff “ripped from the headlines” or showcasing the worst parts of the human race. They were allowed to be a little more fun, and the ones focusing on police officers didn’t always have to involve murderers and rapists. A few years ago they came out with a movie called Chips, supposedly a remake of NBC’s classic TV series, and from what I saw in trailers alone it was not a favorable adaptation. The two main characters, Jon Baker and Frank ” Ponch” Poncherello, were treated as idiots, there’s police corruption, and the movie failed to find an audience with its style of humor. The show was light in tone but this seems more like a mocking parody than anything respectful of the original OR the CHP.
“CHP” is short for California Highway Patrol, which is why the title has those odd lower case letters. CHiPs was created by former LA County deputy Rick Rosen, after seeing a motorcycle cop from the CHP. It wasn’t the first show about the Highway Patrol (for example the 1950s show Highway Patrol) but it is still remembered, currently airing on Charge!, which is where my dad has been watching it since we switched TV providers. (Frontier seems to be closing its TV service one channel at a time and we don’t have a lot of options in our area.) The show follows two motorcycle cops and some of the interesting–and occasionally weird–adventures they come across. The other main character is Sgt. Getraer, the guy running the place. While he sometimes gets annoyed by Ponch’s antics he knows they’re good cops and unlike the movie the show never makes the character, or the CHP in real life, look bad.
It’s through my dad’s watching that I found out about a third intro I didn’t know existed, so I thought I’d go back and look at all three to see how good they are. Let’s start not with the pilot but with the first regular intro.
I do like how the credits are timed with the music, especially the show logo reveal. It flows nicely and just looks good visually. There’s also heavy focus on the motorcycles, this being about a pair of motorcycle cops. According to Wikipedia (yeah, I know) CHP cycle cops don’t really ride paired up like this so excuses were made because these kind of cop shows are usually about partners, like Adam-12. It turns out that it might be to their benefit based on what’s in the show but there may be other reasons why you just get the one officer per cycle. Interestingly the cars only have one officer per vehicle.
However, and maybe nostalgia plays a role, I don’t like the theme song. Granted, the traditional one was used for the rest of the series and the syndicated reruns oddly retitled CHiPs Patrol while the show was on the air also used that music, just throwing “Patrol” into the credits. I couldn’t find that version but I did find the version with the theme song we all recognize.
This theme just have more energy to it, and I like how it goes into that more relaxing part when showing the two main officers. Also I think they time the logo a bit better. Having the theme start during the cold open and leading into the intro is also a great idea and I’m glad the clip I found for this one showed that off. This is the theme we heard throughout the rest of the show, though when Larry Wilcox left the show (Officer Baker going to work on his dad’s farm due to stuff going on behind the scenes of the show) they changed the intro and I think it’s a downgrade.
First of all the cold open was replaced with clips from that episode, which I’ve never been all that interested in. The TV Guide already told me the episode’s plot so all I need is the rest of the story, how they got into the situation, and how they solve the problem. This doesn’t even tell me that Ponch is injured and is forced to deal with the junior explorers club, just that some teen girl isn’t ready to sleep with her boyfriend while another kids in a mock CHP uniform is getting bullied. I like the cold open and how the theme music transitions into the intro better.
It doesn’t help that the visual design is also changed. The logo reveal is no longer timed properly with the music, Ponch’s new partner seems shoved in there, like they couldn’t reshoot him and Erik Estrada riding. It does allow Robert Pine to finally get on screen along with the third new actor but you’d think they’d at least try to get the other supporting cast members on here. Did you know this was Michael Dorn’s early break? Not from the intro. Sure, they didn’t know he’d go on to be Worf, but the other patrol car officers and the guy in the garage are also absent. Plus there are clips from the episode, and longtime readers know how I feel about episode clips in an intro versus original footage. This is something else the other two did right, even if they are just shots of the motorcycle and the uniforms.
It’s that middle one I really enjoy seeing. The other two aren’t bad but we do see that good changes are good, bad changes are bad, and change for the sake of change is a crapshoot. This isn’t a show I watch nearly as much as my dad but I do still find it interesting and this is an intro I stick around for.