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5 things you probably didn’t know about the TV series CHiPs



Is there anything you expected less that “CHiPs: The Movie?” (Well, maybe “Heathers: The Musical.”) CHiPs was a family-friendly police drama that ran six seasons from 1977 to 1983. It starred two - well, they weren’t entirely unknown actors - as California Highway Patrol officers keeping the paved jungles of Los Angeles safe. 

Erik Estrada played the colorful character of - and this is a mouthful - Officer Francis ("Frank") Llewellyn "Ponch" Poncherello, while Larry Wilcox played the straight-laced Officer Jonathan ("Jon") Andrew Baker.

I’m not totally shocked that Dax Shepard was inspired to find big-screen material here. The 42-year-old actor would have been pretty young to have enjoyed the series during its first run on TV, but Shepard is a longtime fan of facing motorcycles and rebuilding classic cars. He’d be the perfect CHiPs fan.

The R-rated movie, which opens Friday, March 24, will certainly be a huge departure from the TV show, in which the two dutiful officers reportedly never pulled their weapons or fired a gun. (My guess is that streak ends 2 minutes into the movie.)

Here are five more things you probably didn’t know about the original CHiPs series, according to

1. The character of Jon Baker was one of the first TV characters to be identified as a Vietnam War veteran (and to have that portrayal be seen positively). In real life, Larry Wilcox was a Marine in Vietnam and saw action in the Tet Offensive.

2. During actual duty, CHP officers do not ride in pairs - as Jon and Ponch do routinely in the show. For the sake of a storyline (and for better TV), it’s explained that Ponch was on probation and required Jon’s supervision when on duty.  

3. The nickname for CHP officers was traditionally “Chippies,” not Chips. It’s not hard to see why the show’s creators felt the need to adjust that.

4. Though they’re cast as buddies on the show, it’s been reports that Wilcox and Estrada didn’t like each other much personally. 

5. After seeing trailers for the movie, both Wilcox and Estrada trashed the movie publicly. Wilcox - who was not invited to the Hollywood premiere - called it “Dumb and Dumber on motorcycles” while Estrada initially labeled it “pure trash.” 

Estrada was invited and attended the premiere, after which he said: “I’m good with it. I’ve got no ax to grind. And if people don’t like it, they don’t gotta see it. If they want the CHiPs they grew up with, go every day at 4 p.m. and watch it on MeTV."

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 4:13pm]


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