The Hollywood reboot machine shows no sign of slowing down, as Warner Bros has tapped Dax Shepard (Parenthood) to write, direct and star in a big screen version of decades-old TV show, CHiPs. The series, which ran from 1977 – 1983, was essentially a police procedural, centred around two California Highway Patrol Officers, and really won its audiences over with the charming performances of its leading men – Larry Wilcox as Jon Baker, and Erik Estrada as Frank “Ponch” Poncherello. Those roles are now set to be filled by the equally charming Michael Pena (End Of Watch) as Ponch, and Shepard as Baker.
At the time of its original broadcast, the sight of Wilcox and Estrada in their clingier-than-clingy uniforms, astride powerful motorcycles, became as iconic as Catherine Bach’s ‘Daisy Dukes’ from The Dukes Of Hazzard – but unlike that show, CHiPs had hitherto failed to achieve a big screen reboot. While Starsky And Hutch and The A-Team have both received the big budget treatment, CHiPs has languished in development hell ever since a version starring Wilmer Valderrama stalled on its way to the script department.
A little-seen movie directed by 24’s Jon Cassar in 1998 saw the original stars reprise their roles – with the character of Ponch having returned to the police force, only to reappear when Jon needs help investigating a series of car thefts. Valiant effort though that was, Rick Rosner’s trailblazing NBC show deserves more.
It cannot be denied that Dax Shepard is the most qualified person to lead this project. Having his own brand of humour, he wrote, directed and starred in 2012’s Hit And Run – a road movie featuring comedy, drama and great car chases. Being a professional race car and motorcycle driver himself, in addition to making films, he has proven can handle himself on the page, on the screen and on the highway.
There is no indication yet as to when we can expect CHiPs to arrive, but we’ll keep scanning the horizon for that familiar glint of California sunshine, bouncing off their badges of Baker and Ponch.