CHiPs Erik Estrada as Officer Francis Llewellyn 'Ponch' Poncherello. Watch CHiPs on Fox

Helen Herimbi

Seventy-six was not a very good year. With the help of soul singer Pebbles, in the chorus, this is what Tumi and The Volume told us in their brilliant debut, ‘Live At the Bassline’. Of course, they were referring to the year 1976 and the uprisings in SA.

But for US actor Erik Estrada, 1976 was also a bad year because ‘CHiPs’ wasn’t on air yet. Let’s face it, this is the series that gave Estrada a career and the biggest thing he has been a part of.

This cop drama, that for Estrada and his colleagues was the best thing since sliced bread, aired from 1977 to 1983. The sixth and final season of the show will air on TopTV’s Fox Retro channel from this week. So expect to keep seeing those OTT car pile-ups.

For those of you who aren’t hip to what the show is all about, then let’s start at the beginning. The title of the show is written in this peculiar manner because ‘CHiPs’ is actually an acronym for the California Highway Patrol team. Needless to say, the show is about the goings-on of the patrol team and their lives off the road.

Estrada plays Officer Frank Poncherello, but everyone calls him Ponch. He’s a loudmouth at best and loves to flex his muscles and emphasise that he’s more of a macho, macho man than any of the Village People. His partner, Officer Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox) is the exact opposite of good ol’ Ponch.

Always one to go directly where the trouble is, Ponch is known to drag the calmer Baker along with him. But this, of course, is what makes ‘CHiPs’ an action-filled series.

In the sixth season there is a new rookie in the Central Los Angeles office that has become Ponch’s home.

The seasoned patrolman becomes newcomer Bobby Nelson’s training officer. Things start to go a little bit crazy when Bobby joins Ponch and they try to track down a teenage mom who sold her baby, then stole her back from the buyers before going on the run.

There is also something about thieves who target a health club. Naturally, our macho Ponch takes that a little too personally. Find out how the ‘CHiPs’ men deal with it all.

‘CHiPs’ is on Fox Retro (TopTV channel 181) every weekday at 6pm from tonight.