In two months, Calcasieu Serialfest will be returning to the Brimstone Museum Annex in Sulphur, LA. Join me (representing Ken’s Alternate Universe) and the festival director, Patrick Bennett of Pop Ninja, as we share chapters from classic serials from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Also in attendance will be William Necessary, a serial cosplayer and regular fixture of the festival, who will give insight into each serial that we watch.
For the first time ever, the festival will feature a presentation via Zoom by Don O’Malley, a serial filmmaker, author, and podcast host. Be sure to check out his show, Don’s Breakfast Serial!
Serials will begin showing after a brief welcome from Patrick at 10 AM and will continue throughout the day until 5 PM. There will be breaks between each set of serials and we will be showing two to three chapters of each serial. There will be chapters from serials like Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars, King of the Rocket Men, and Mysterious Dr. Satan, with many more still to be added to the lineup! The full schedule will be available a few days prior to the festival on the Serialfest Facebook page (link above), so follow the page and/or this blog to get all of the details.
This festival is a unique event for southwest Louisiana/southeast Texas. It’s currently in its ninth year. If you’d like to see the classic heroes and villains that inspired some of today’s greatest science fiction, comic, and adventure franchises such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, be sure to check out this fun and free event!
I’ll have more information as we get closer to the event. Again, this is a free, fun, family-friendly event and I guarantee that you’ll have a great time! If you’re a cosplayer, be sure to wear one of your costumes to the event. It doesn’t matter if it’s based upon a serial or not, we’d love to see your creations!
Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon!
“For the record, if I don’t make it out of here, don’t put me down for mummification.”
Universal Pictures has attempted to revive its classic Universal Monsters lineup in recent years. The Wolfman (2010), The Mummy (2017), and Dracula Untold (2014) have all been met with mixed reviews. In fact, The Mummy was such a bomb at the box office that Universal shelved its planned “Dark Universe” indefinitely. In 2020 the company revived The Invisible Man as a terrifying tale of domestic abuse and it worked extremely well. Since then, however, not much has been said about Universal’s plans for their classic monsters.
Despite the recent failures of Universal, things were looking up at the turn of the century. In 1999, Stephen Sommers gave the world his vision of The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr, and Kevin J. O’Connor. Despite a lukewarm reception from many professional critics, the film proved to be popular with general audiences. In fact, it was number one at the box office for twelve straight days and dropped to second place only due to the fact that the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was released. The film would remain in the top ten until August 1st, when it dropped to the twelfth spot on the charts. It remained in the top twenty list until it was pulled from theaters in late September. The film would spawn two sequels, a prequel entitled The Scorpion King (2002) which would in turn spawn its own sequels, and an animated series.
The film took the original 1932 story about the forbidden love of Imhotep and Anck-su-namun, injected a lot more action and humor, and utilized heavy (and relatively new) CGI effects to bring the Mummy to life. It also added a heroic lead in the character of Rick O’Connell, an American adventurer who agrees to lead a brother and sister to the ancient city of Hamunaptra, and a group of American treasure hunters hellbent on discovering the riches hidden in Hamunaptra.
In the movie, O’Connell leads Evelyn and Jonathan Carnahan to Hamunaptra. Jonathan is looking for treasure while Evelyn, or Evie for short, is there for historical research. A second group, composed of the aforementioned Americans, is guided by Beni, a shifty and opportunistic man who fought alongside Rick in the French Foreign Legion. The American group discovers the forbidden Book of the Dead and a set of jars that contain the organs of Anck-su-namun. Rick’s group discover the “juicy” body of Imhotep. The two groups are attacked by the Medjai, men sworn to prevent the resurrection of Imhotep, and are told to leave Hamunaptra before it is too late. Instead, Evie reads scripture from the Book of the Dead and unintentionally revives Imhotep, sending Egypt into a new round of Biblical plagues as the Mummy begins collecting organs from the Americans to reform himself and eventually revive Anck-su-namun. Rick, Jonathan, Evie, and the leader of the Medjai, Ardeth Bey, attempt to stop Imhotep from fully renewing his body and attempting to revive his forbidden lover. Imhotep ultimately traps the group and Evie gives herself over to him to be used as the sacrificial body for Anck-su-namun’s resurrection ritual in order to save her friends. Imhotep sends his slaves to murder them, however, but they escape and head back to Hamunaptra to save Evie and kill Imhotep. Watch the film to find out what happens next!
I love this movie. It is essentially a combination of the horror elements in the classic The Mummy film and the action of the classic adventure serials that were released during the same era. So basically, it takes two of my favorite things and puts them together on a much larger scale. Think Raiders Of The Lost Ark but with monsters, lots of undead monsters. The action is fast-paced and the horror, while definitely not too terrifying, lingers throughout the movie and neither get in the way of one another. The CGI hasn’t aged very well in a few sequences but it isn’t that bad. The cinematography is top-notch, especially the moments shot in the Sahara Desert. The desert is absolutely beautiful. Jerry Goldsmith’s score is perfect and places the viewer in the heart of Egypt (although Marrakech was used as Cairo). Stephen Sommers struck gold with this film!
The cast was excellent as well. Brendan Fraser was perfectly cast as Rick O’Connell and he had amazing chemistry with Rachel Weisz. Weisz gives off a perfect blend of nerdy, sexy, and heroic in Evie and I’ve had a crush on her ever since originally seeing this film in the theater. John Hannah and Kevin J. O’Connor provide plenty of laughs as Evie’s brother, Jonathan, and the conniving Beni, respectively. Oded Fehr won me over as Ardeth Bey (and fans of the original Mummy film will catch the reference of his name). The American group is made up of some amazing character actors, most notably Jonathan Hyde as Dr. Chamberlain and Corey Johnson as David Daniels. Omid Djalili, Erick Avari, and Bernard Fox also have excellent brief roles in the film. As for Imhotep and Anck-su-namun, Arnold Vosloo and Patricia Velasquez were excellent. Velasquez has a small role in the film but she quickly establishes that she will do anything to save her lover. Vosloo is a striking man in the film and he marches about (once fully resurrected) as a monster intent on reviving his lost love.
Stephen Sommers would attempt to revive even more Universal Monsters with his 2004 Hugh Jackman vehicle, Van Helsing. Despite opening at number one and eventually making just over three hundred million dollars, the film failed to connect with audiences and Sommers’ future with Universal was put on hold. I personally enjoyed the film. It was a loud adventure with over-the-top acting.
The Mummy is wonderful. It was a wonderful adventure film with just enough horror to keep viewers on their toes. It’s also arguably one of the best action films of the 1990s. More than anything, it made me fall in love with Rachel Weisz!
Thanks for catching up on this late 90s classic with me. See you again, soon!
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to help out my bud, Patrick Bennett, put on the Calcasieu Parish Short Film Festival. The event was well attended and yours truly even had the chance to do a presentation on Bigfoot in film history as a representative of my “side gig,” the Filmsquatch Podcast. On top of that, independent filmmaker, Mitch Laing, gave a brilliant presentation on how to make and market a film. I played all of the media for his presentation and was glad to be a part of his program. He also gave everyone a peek at some of his upcoming work and let us watch his Chasing Bogman short. The event was topped off with a 100th anniversary screening of Buster Keaton’s The Balloonatic and the awards ceremony.
Here’s a list of all of the winners from the festival:
Home Grown Film (made in Louisiana by a Louisiana filmmaker):
1st Place – “Cajun Bricolage”
2nd Place – “Swashbuckle Kill”
3rd Place – “Peggy Blue Eyes”
Best Narrative Film:
1st Place – “Swashbuckle Kill”
2nd Place – “Peggy Blue Eyes”
3rd Place – “From Father to Daughter: The Cuba Film”
1st Place – “Philoxenia”
2nd Place – “Cajun Bricolage”
3rd Place -“Piano Girl”
1st Place – “The Night We Left Home”
2nd Place – “Monsters Among Us”
3rd Place – “The Pest”
Best Student Film:
1st Place – “Exhausted”
2nd Place – “The Night of Prayer”
3rd Place – “…”
Best Music Video:
1st Place – “We are the Earth”
2nd Place – “Coffee and Cream”
3rd Place – “…”
Best 48-Hour Film:
“The Great Carmichael”
Best Animated Film:
This year’s event was a blast! I can’t wait for next year. If you have the chance, join us!
Thanks for checking out my post! I also want to thank everyone that attended and/or supported the Calcasieu Short Film Festival, especially the Brimstone Museum.
“Say, Mr. Detective, before you clean up any mysteries…..clean up this theater.”
Buster Keaton is considered by many to be one of, if not the best, actor/director/writer of the silent film era and also one of the best actor/director/writers of all time. He’s also considered to be one of the funniest performers in history. He began his career in vaudeville with his family’s show, The Three Keatons, and made his first appearance on stage at the age of three in 1899. He quickly became a master of pratfalls and high risk stunts and utilized these talents in silent films. His first appearance on film came in 1917’s The Butcher Boy. It starred Fatty Arbuckle, Al St. John, and Alice Lake. Soon enough, Keaton found himself working as a second unit director for Arbuckle and he would eventually direct his first short, One Week, in 1920, and his first feature film, Three Ages, in 1923. Keaton continued working until 1966 (his death), starring in, directing, and writing much of his work. Some of his most popular works include The General (1926), The Navigator (1924), Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928), and Sherlock, Jr. (1924).
In Sherlock, Jr., Keaton portrays a young man who reads a book about becoming a detective during breaks at his job at a cinema. Keaton runs the projector and cleans up the theater. He’s also in love with a young woman, known only as The Girl, whom he purchases a box of candy for that costs one dollar. Hoping to impress her, he changes the price tag to four dollars. He also gives her a ring, albeit a small one. While courting her, another man, known as The Sheik, steals the pocket watch from the coat of the Girl’s father. He pawns it for four dollars, buys a box of three dollar chocolates, and gives them to the Girl in front of Keaton. When he discovers that his pocket watch has been stolen, the Girl’s father decides to call the police. Seeing it as an opportunity to test his detective skills, Keaton volunteers to find the watch but is instead framed for the theft by the Sheik. The Girl’s father kicks Buster out of his home and tells him that he is no longer welcome there. Heartbroken, Buster returns to the cinema and begins projecting the film Hearts And Pearls. He soon falls asleep in the projector booth and dreams that he is in the film as Sherlock, Jr., a master detective who battles a villain that looks like the Sheik. The rest of the characters in the film are replaced by people in Keaton’s real life. The rest of the film plays out with Keaton, as Sherlock, Jr., attempting to solve a crime. What happens we he awakens from his dream? Watch Sherlock, Jr. to find out!
This film is hilarious. It features a number of gags, stunts, and pratfalls by Keaton, many of which are considered to be some of his best stunts of all time. Keaton rides on the handlebars of a motorcycle without a driver for an extended period in the film. He also jumps “through” his sidekick, Gillette, when attempting to escape from some thugs. He rides a roadblock gate from the top of a two-story building to the ground as well. He plays a one-sided game of pool in which he avoids an explosive ball. One stunt in the film almost unknowingly ended Keaton’s career. In the film, Keaton runs across the top of moving rail cars and then hops onto a water tower by grabbing the water spout. The spout, which opens when pulled down, released a ton of water on top of Keaton and pinned him to the rails below. Despite this part of the stunt being planned out, Keaton was pushed down so hard into the rails that he broke a vertebra in his neck. Unaware that he broke the vertebra, Keaton hops up and runs away from the villains chasing him in the scene. It is said that Keaton complained of having severe headaches for days following the stunt, but he wouldn’t find out about the break until years later after receiving an X-ray.
The film didn’t do very well at the box office and Keaton spent a ton of hours editing and re-editing it hoping to find a final product that he liked. He never did and, as a result, considers this film to be “alright” but pretty much a disappointment. Time has been kind to the film, however, as it has found a place on numerous “Best Of” lists for silent films. I really enjoyed this film myself. Some of the stunts are amazing and I had to do a double take on the “jumping through” Gillette scene. The film has also become appreciated for the physical gags and stunts executed by Keaton.
The film is available to stream for free on a number of platforms and I highly recommend watching it. It’s one of my favorite silent films and I believe that you will enjoy it as well.
Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon!
With zero intentions to disguise their intent of cashing in on the success of Jaws (1975), Roger Corman, New World Pictures, and Piranha Productions gave the world 1978’s Piranha. The film was shot for roughly $600,000 and raked in a whopping sixteen million dollars at the box office. It featured a decent story, an amazing musical score, and a cast of strong character actors that lifted the film above water.
The plot is simple but effective. Basically, a skip tracer looking for two missing skinny dippers unwittingly empties a school of mutated piranha into a local river. The school of beasts are headed downriver. Along the way they kill a few locals and then feast on a summer camp and the grand opening of a new resort in the area. The skip tracer and the local drunk that she hired as a guide try to stop the monsters and uncover a dark military secret. Can they stop the fish before they feast on the flesh of innocent children and scantily clad swimmers? Watch Piranha to find out!
The film is surprisingly well done. With Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling, Small Soldiers) at the helm in his first solo directing job, the pacing is great and the acting is much better than expected. In fact, the film’s two stars, Heather Menzies (Maggie) and Bradford Dillman (town drunk, Paul Grogan), have amazing chemistry on screen. While there is never really a moment of romance between them, there’s light tension that hints at what might be in the future. Dick Miller, who worked on numerous Joe Dante projects, is great as the greedy resort owner, Buck Gardner. Barbara Steele has a small but central role as Dr. Mengers, Dr. Hoak’s former lover and fellow researcher who attempts to keep military secrets. Dr. Hoak is portrayed by Kevin McCarthy, one of a number of brilliant character actors in the film including Keenan Wynn, Bruce Gordon, and Richard Deacon. The cast also featured soap opera legend, Melody Thomas Scott, as Laura, a camp counselor, and Belinda Balaski, who works with Laura.
Pino Donaggio (Dressed To Kill, Gor, Hercules) scored the film, giving it just enough frenzied music to amplify the terror. Seventeen year old Rob Bottin and a young Phil Tippett handled the special effects, all of which were done for roughly $50,000. Despite the limited budget, the effects look pretty convincing. They still hold up over forty years later.
I recommend checking out Piranha if you haven’t seen it yet. Be sure to keep an eye out for the blatant wink at Jaws and a brief glimpse of a creature inspired by the work of Ray Harryhausen.
Thanks for checking out my post. See you again soon!
With the original Jurassic Park film celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, I’m on the lookout for all things JP (or JW, in this case). I’m happy to report that there is a ton of merchandise out there not only for the original film, but for the recent Jurassic World films as well. In fact, if you’re a big fan of the most recent film in the series, Jurassic World: Dominion, you are in luck. Toys from that film are hitting the clearance aisles at many of your local big box stores and there are plenty of toys available for the taking. I recently picked up this Dr. Ian Malcolm & Velociraptor set for less than half of its original retail price.
The set comes with Dr. Ian Malcolm, a velociraptor, and three of the genetically engineered locusts created by Biosyn Genetics. It also comes with a code on a slab hidden in the velociraptor’s spine in which you can download an app and experience an augmented reality featuring the dinosaurs. I didn’t bother with that, as I’m much more interested in the figures.
The velociraptor looks excellent. There’s a ton of detail on the figure. Even when compared to Hammond Collection figures, it holds up quite well. The primary difference between this film-based figure and the Hammond Collection figures is articulation. The velociraptor comes with seven points of articulation. It moves at the hips, shoulders, lower neck, tail, and mouth. The simplest Hammond Collection dinosaurs feature at least double that amount of articulation. That being said, the velociraptor looks quite nice on display.
The Dr. Ian Malcolm figure is okay. He features ten points of articulation (head, shoulders, elbows, waist, hips, and knees). As expected, this is less than the Hammond human figures which feature sixteen points of articulation. The figure has a fairly decent resemblance to Jeff Goldblum. My photos do not do the figure justice in this particular area. The glasses are a bit clunky and cannot be removed, but overall I don’t have any major complaints about this figure. The included dino prod with blue lightning fits well within Dr. Malcolm’s hands. The locusts look like an afterthought. It’s as if they were just tossed in for extra accessories. They are nearly translucent and are entirely green.
Overall, this isn’t a shabby set to collect. Kids will love the velociraptor, for sure, but I don’t know if they will be too interested in an aging scientist with a souped up cattle prod! I’ve included a photo below of the Dr. Malcolm and velociraptor figures with two Hammond Collection figures (Muldoon and Dr. Sattler) to give you an idea of the scale. It’s pretty much dead on as far as I’m concerned and you can’t really tell any differences in the POA when these figures are displayed together on a shelf. I hope to get a Dr. Grant figure sooner or later to have at least one figure of each of my favorite characters from the original films.
Thanks for checking out my post! See you again real soon!
2020 was a brutal year for the world. COVID-19 was in full force, effectively shutting down the lives of most people. For folks in south Louisiana, 2020 had the additional “gifts” of Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta, destroying homes, businesses, and lives. Many folks, bound to their homes, or in the case of many Louisianians, temporary homes and camper trailers, sought out entertainment on streaming services. Netflix graced the world with Tiger King and The Queen’s Gambit while other streamers like Apple+ entertained viewers with Ted Lasso. In April of 2020, upstart streamer Quibi,which I completely missed due to the hurricanes, began streaming short form series with episodes running under ten minutes in the hopes to capture a young, short attention spanned crowd. Although it would shut down by December of the same year, its original programming would be purchased by Roku and released on that platform. One of those shows, which I only recently discovered, was the Sam Raimi executive produced 50 States Of Fright.
50 States Of Fright is a horror anthology series consisting of folktales and horror stories that take place within the fifty United States of America. While it is implied that these tales originate within the state that they take place in on the show, the first story, The Golden Arm (Michigan), is a folktale with its print roots in Finland but an oral history that extends even farther back and with no determined origin. Most of the other episodes, especially Scared Stiff (Oregon), America’s Largest Ball Of Twine (Kansas), Red Rum (Colorado), and Grey Cloud Island (Minnesota), at least use local sites and legends for inspiration. Each tale is told across two or three episodes, all of which run between five and ten minutes long.
Many of the stories are both written and directed by the same person or persons. Some of the writers and directors involved include Sam and Ivan Raimi, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, Lee Cronin, and Cate Devaney. The stories also featured well known actors in almost all of the major roles. Ming-Na Wen, Karen Allen, Rachel Brosnahan, Ron Livingston, Jacob Batalon, and Christina Ricci are just a few of the many popular actors to appear in the series. Don’t let their popularity fool you, however, as no one is safe from danger in this series.
There have been two seasons of the show so far. The first season consisted of fourteen episodes and focused on five states. The second season featured ten episodes featuring four states. All of the episodes are very well done but do vary in their scariness. My favorite stories (and not necessarily the scariest ones) are Scared Stiff (Oregon) and Almost There (Iowa). Red Rum (Colorado) is also very enjoyable and features a decent amount of humor supplied by the quirky performance of Christina Ricci. My least favorite tales are actually the bookends of the series, the first story told, The Golden Arm (Michigan), and the last story of season two, Dogwood-Azalea (Missouri). While they were both entertaining, they felt more like a Hallmark Channel attempt at horror than legitimately creepy tales.
The entire series is available on Roku for free. You can stream the entire series on a lazy afternoon. Roku has already released new seasons of other Quibi originals and according to an article dated November 30, 2022, a new season of 50 States Of Fright is planned to be produced. I hope that this is true, as I’d love to see more stories in this anthology, especially stories from Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi.
Thanks for checking out my post. I’ve been a little silent recently and I apologize for that. I’ve been in a rut. I definitely recommend checking out 50 States Of Fright and I plan on checking out more of the Quibi shows now available on Roku. See you real soon!
Whether you grew up with the original trilogy like I did or first discovered the Force in The Phantom Menace, there’s plenty of Star Wars things to celebrate today! I hope that you get the chance to celebrate that story from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Here are a few things you can do to show off your love of all things Star Wars:
Yeah, you don’t have to be as screen accurate as the wonderful Scruffy Rebel Cosplay is in the photo above (by Dietz Photography), but you can definitely put on your favorite Star Wars costume. Whether you wear it to a party or just around the house, feel free to show off your Rebel or Imperial duds!
Buy Action Figures!
You know you want to, so get out there and pick up some new (or old) Star Wars action figures! If cash is short, break out your old collection and reminisce about your favorite moments from the films.
Wear A Star Wars Tee, Cap, Shoes, Etc.!
Even if you have to tuck it under your work uniform, slap on that old Chewbacca t-shirt or put that Imperial insignia pendant around your neck!
Play A Game!
Dig up one of your old Star Wars board games, play on a console, or hop online with friends. There are tons of options out there and I know that if you’re a Star Wars fan, you have at least one game based on the franchise!
Read A Book!
There are a lot of Star Wars books, old and new, on shelves across the country. Check one out at the library or buy one from your favorite bookstore. If you need suggestions, I highly recommend the Republic Commando series by Karen Traviss!
Throw A Star Wars Party!
Invite your friends and family over for a galactic bash! Make Star Wars themed food and drinks, play games, and watch some of the films or shows. You’ll have a great time!
Watch The Star Wars!
Seems kinda obvious, right? Watch any or all of the Star Wars films, catch up on your favorite Star Wars cartoon or live action series, or go all in and watch the Holiday Special! If you do nothing else on this day, make sure to watch something related to Star Wars!
Thanks for checking out my post. Happy Star Wars Day!!!!!
Myself and Patrick Bennett made our second trip to the Fouke Monster Festival. Unlike last year, however, we weren’t in attendance as fans of the legendary Boggy Creek Monster, we were there as representatives of our podcast, Filmsquatch……and as fans of the Boggy Creek Monster! We got to meet a ton of people, made new friends like Jeff and Cindy Sheldon of the brand new Boggy Creek Boutique, and got to talk with folks like Lyle Blackburn, Chester Moore, and the mayor of Fouke himself, Terry Purvis!
It was amazing to see the support not only for the festival, but for cryptozoology in general. Fouke seems to have truly embraced the Fouke Monster as the Monster Mart, the Monster Activity Center, the Boggy Creek Boutique, and even the police force have the monster plastered all over the place. This city really loves its legendary beast and that’s okay in my book!
Patrick and I had a blast visiting the Monster Mart again. We both picked up some squatchy goods there and at a number of other places in town. As always, Allen’s Burger Center fed us well with some awesome cheeseburgers and I discovered my new favorite salsa from Gladden Farms, Boggy Creek Chipotle! If you haven’t visited Fouke, what are you waiting for? If you’re waiting for an invitation, I cordially invite you to visit this wonderful town and the Fouke Monster Festival. If you do visit, let me know and I’ll make the three-plus hour drive to meet you there!
I drove up to Texarkana, Texas on Friday, making a couple of stops along the way, to spend the evening at the host hotel. My favorite stop was in Jefferson, Texas, the Bigfoot Capital Of Texas, and I visited the History and Nature Center. I took a wonderful walk along Big Cypress Bayou and got some great photos. I also found Bigfoot! When I arrived in Texarkana, I spent a little money at some local stores and then worked on the podcast with Patrick that evening. There were some decent storms that blew through Texarkana on Friday evening, dropping the temperatures into the fifties. It was a huge difference from last year’s June-based monster festival!
I hope to return to the Fouke Monster Festival next year. I also plan on attending the Texas Bigfoot Conference in Jefferson, TX, later this year. I hope to see some of you there!
Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon!
I was only one year old when the first season of CHiPs debuted on NBC in September of 1977. Despite this, and due the fact that my family, especially my sister, loved the series, I became a fan of the show in its later seasons. It lasted for six seasons from 1977 to 1983, and has been in syndication since 1982, when NBC began showing reruns of the first seasons in 1982. Since last year I’ve been revisiting the series on the Charge! network and have fallen back in love with it.
The show primarily focused on straight-laced good guy Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox) and his rule-bending but well-meaning partner, Francis “Ponch” Poncherello (Erik Estrada) as they navigated the highways of Los Angeles, CA under the guidance of Sgt. Joseph Getraer (Robert Pine). While they were the stars of the show, a number of regulars appeared throughout the series that often had their own subplots in episodes. Some of the most frequently appearing officers on the show included Arthur “Grossie” Grossman (Paul Linke), Barry “Bear” Baricza (Brodie Greer), Sindy Cahill (Brianne Leary), Gene Fritz (Lew Saunders), and Harlan Arliss (Lou Wagner), as the patrol’s mechanic. Later seasons would see stars such as Michael Dorn, Randi Oakes, and Clarence Gilyar, Jr. added to the cast as others left the show. Bruce Jenner replaced Erik Estrada for three episodes as Officer Steve McLeish in the fifth season and Larry Wilcox exited the series in its final season and was replaced by Tom Reilly as Bobby “Hot Dog” Nelson. Despite the revolving cast, the series held up quite well across all of its seasons.
One particular highlight of the series was the many popular and soon-to-be popular guest stars that appeared on the show, some in multiple episode angles. Leif Garrett, Cindy Williams, Robbie Rist, Jim Backus, Edward James Olmos, Heather Locklear, Moon Unit Zappa, and Richard Simmons are just a few of the guest stars on the show. Danny Bonaduce appeared in four episodes as three different characters. Milton Berle, Cassandra Peterson, Heather O’Rourke, Bryan Cranston, Jay Silverheels, Tom Villard, and Amy Steel also had guest appearances on the show. There are literally too many other to list.
The series often featured ridiculous pileups on California highways. In most cases, there were almost zero casualties despite vehicles flipping multiple times, exploding, or being busted to pieces. The show featured a ton of humor and most of the dramatic moments in the show were resolved rather easily. Episodes often featured young kids that are befriended by Jon and Ponch. They also usually ended on a lighter note.
After the series ended in 1983, a made-for-TV reunion film, CHiPS ’99, was released. In 2017, the CHiPs film was released starring Dax Shepard as Jon Baker and Michael Pena as Ponch. The film, which greatly altered the backstories for Jon and Ponch and omitted almost all of the other regular series characters including Getraer, failed to win over audiences. Larry Wilcox openly derided the film and refused to make a cameo appearance. Erik Estrada did have a brief cameo as a paramedic but wasn’t enough to bring in fans of the classic series. There are no plans for a sequel nor has there been mention of a reboot. Thankfully we have the classic series available on Charge! to watch and relive the cheesy goodness of the show.
I highly recommend checking out this classic series. It’s available on home media and it’s also available on the Charge! network. Give it a look and you, too, can be as cool as Ponch!
Thanks for joining me on memory lane. See you again real soon!