CHiPs Return! Despite Horse Abuse Allegations

Horse CHiPs

The green revolution is upon us with everything from recycling, reusing, up-cycling and re-purposing. It’s all about what’s old is new again.  First came Battlestar Galactica and Hawaii Five-O, now CHiPs is scheduled for a fall 2012 return.

For those too young to remember, CHiPs was an “American television drama series …that originally aired onNBC from September 15, 1977, to June 17, 1983. CHiPs followed the lives of two motorcycle police officers of theCalifornia Highway Patrol” (Wikipedia)

New life for CHiPs began when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger purchased the lost first pilot episodes of CHiPS which never aired. He stumbled across the find on EBay while searching  for some Ponch and John dolls for his office.

The slightly different pilot version of the show never made it to America’s television sets back in the 70’s. It was at the time considered too “naderesque” , a term used before there was a term “green”, or as it was more commonly called by the network execs of the day “tree hugging hippy bullshit” .

A memo written by NBC network execs at the time advised that the CHiPs pilot episodes did not fit with their image or agenda. They stated, “This is the age souped up gas guzzling muscle cars. If we wanted horses we would have picked up little house on the prairie.”In the pilot Ponch and John had a costar named simply “Horse,” hence the original title of the show CHePs, California Highway Equine Patrol.

CHiPs ChePs

Horse was an officer of the California Highway Patrol, he had a helmet and a badge, and chased down the bad guys, he just had a different way of apprehending them. He would tow away cars with his own brute strength, stomp out windshields, reverse kick criminals into ponds, headbutt trucks, and drop horse pies (road apples) in the streets to force speeding Firebirds to skid out of control.

Governor Schwarzenegger felt the original equine idea was the perfect vehicle for his campaign to reinforce the need for green transportation such as hybrid vehicles or horses. He pitched it to some of his TV network executive friends.  Schwarzenegger said, “People love the 70’s. Its getting big right now, we can draw them in with the nostalgia and then hit them with the message. This falls right in with the networks need to get more ratings and come across as being “green.”

The network executives loved the idea and decided to do some recycling of the classic show and add a new version including “Horse” to the 2011 fall lineup.  They also plan to release a remastered version of the original pilot episodes Summer 2011 as a sort of preview.

The Horse Abuse Scandal

In addition to being ahead of its time, a plague of horse abuse scandals were the major reason the original CHePs never saw the light of day. Animal activists picketed tapings of the show on numerous occasions when they found out that horses were being mishandled on set. There were eyewitness accounts of “horses dropping like flies and being forced to chase down Camaros in 90mph pursuits until they died in convulsions and puddles of foam.” Internal memos by NBC executives leaked statements such as ”…not feasible to have horses chasing camaros, not cost effective to replace dead horse after each take…”

It was also discovered producers were feeding horses a mix of ground tires and petroleum grease in order to have the horses produce a slick feces.  The initial thought was that the horses would create a fecal oil slick to stop out of control car chases. This did not produce the desired effect and a stable full of horses died as a result.

One eyewitness stated, “I was an extra on the set and those horses were dropping off one after another. They were running them at 90 miles an hour and so much foam came off this one horse the whole road was covered and the camera crews van slid right off the overpass, and the horse tripped and it was like he dissolved. It was like a big pile of skin and bones and teeth.

You couldn’t have even made dog food after that.  It was gross because it just stuck to the highway like glue. Horses really are made of glue.  If you look out there right now how many years later you can still see a dark spot. I still see dead horses everywhere I look.  The doctors say I have post traumatic stress.  You know when you see a dark spot in your driveway most people think ‘…the car must have dripped oil’.  Not me I think ‘A horse must have died here.’  I live in LA Man there ain’t no fucking horses in east LA except those horsetooth house wives.”

Actors Speak Out

Erik Estrada CHiPs PonchErik Estrada, a horse lover, has come out against the show saying  …”This is bullshit this shit was on the cutting room floor for a reason. They tried to make me ride a horse, but I wouldn’t do it.  That fucking John was riding all over the place on these stupid horses doing whatever they said. I was like give me a muscle car for my machismo, or I am out of here.”

He also added, “The dead horses starting piling up all behind my trailer. How am I supposed to be a star with the stink of dead horses wafting in my trailer. I tried to bring Cheryl Tiegs in my trailer how do you think that worked out with the smell of rancid horsemeat wafting in my window?”

Larry Wilcox CHiPs JohnPonch revealed another liability that doomed the show to never see the light of day. He said, “Horse kept tossing off the helmets and hitting people. It was becoming a liability there were 2 people with concussions and one in a coma. The executives said they couldn’t afford to keep him on. A directive was sent down from the head office that simply said “shoot him and wrap it up, it’s over.”

We interviewed John but we don’t even know what his real name is.  We think it might be Larry Wilcox but we can’t remember and really don’t care. He could be John Tesh for all we care. Fucking tuba playing mother fucker.

There is still one horse surving from the days of CHePs. He managed to escape the set alive and he is now 38 years old.  He still works everyday, only now its hauling coal out of mines in West Virginia.  He hopes to retire soon. His ex-wife took him for all his CHePs money.  All 36 dollars and the complementary feed bag.

CHePs Is Back

You can expect to see the digitally remastered version of the original pilot coming in hi def 1080p this summer as a preview to the full new series which premiers this fall. You can really see those horse whiskers and the ridges in their hooves and the fine granules of ground up tire in their shit.

Author Word Find: Gotta Catch Them All
We Drove Past The Gazebo