It’s been many decades since CHiPs debuted on TV in 1977 and society has gone through uncountable rebirths in that time, so it only makes sense that the series would have to go through some changes of its own to appeal to 21st century audiences. Dax Shepard, serving as director and writer, as well as star, recognized the need for an update, so he gave it a modern treatment, complete with an R rating. Amid criticism from the original CHiPs cast, Shepard now explains his decision to turn the family favorite television series into an R-rated comedy.
CHiPs Mastermind Dax Shepard Delivers A Brilliant, If Raunchy, Comedy
As Los Angeles Times reports, rebooting CHiPs for the big screen nearly 40 years later required some re-imagining, and as Dax Shepard shares, he didn’t feel a tremendous amount of pressure to be loyal to the original intent of the series. It was a very different time in 1977, long before terrorism and public shootings changed the face of law enforcement, and Dax says he wanted his version of CHiPs to reflect that, yet be relevant to 2017 R-rated audiences.
In fact, Shepard’s version of CHiPs is so far removed from the series of the late ’70s, which ran for six seasons and ended in 1983, that the series’ stars, Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox, have slammed Dax’s reboot as “sick cr–” and “pure trash.” The series’ stars have also gone further, suggesting Shepard’s film has trashed the reputation of the California Highway Patrol and the original CHiPs series.
Strong words. Though it should be pointed out that Estrada, who played Ponch in the original series, does have a cameo in the Dax Shepard reboot.
While the actors may not approve, Dax reveals that he did win over the one person he worried about offending, CHiPs creator, Rick Rosner.
“The first time I e-mailed him the R-rated version of the script, I thought, oh my god, he’s gonna call me and say, ‘What have you done for this thing I’ve created?’ But weirdly, he liked it the most out of everybody,” Shepard shares. “So once he was onboard, I really didn’t sweat it too much.”
Dax Shares What He Did Keep From The Original CHiPs Series
There was one aspect Dax felt determined to recreate in his CHiPs reboot and that was the highway and urban setting of the series, Shepard tells Vanity Fair. The writer/director/star recalls growing up in Detroit, suffering through harsh, bitterly cold seasons, looking forward to CHiPs each day with its sunny California settings. During that one hour, Shepard could lose himself in the warm Los Angeles heat and the action of Ponch and Jon.
Dax also recalls playing make believe with his brother, sharing that they would both want to be Bo Duke, if they were playing Dukes of Hazzard, and they would each insist on being Ponch, if they were playing CHiPs.
That was when Dax was younger and he dreamed of being the good guy, but, as he grew up, the CHiPs star shares that his perspective changed.
“My dad drove like an a–hole, like I do, and I don’t think he loved law enforcement,” Shepard says. “And I have a real hard time with authority. My main influence as a kid was Smokey and the Bandit. I wanted to be Burt Reynolds and drive a Trans Am around and jump it and run from the cops. That was far more what I fantasized about.”
Shepard reveals that he fed his hunger for high octane action, while filming CHiPs. Dax performed his own stunts through much of the film, though he abashedly admits he crashed his motorcycle a few times. His biggest problems? The CHiPs actor says he couldn’t quite grasp riding on just the front wheel of his motorcycle. He also found driving on the beach to be a bigger-than-expected challenge, especially with a 70 pound camera hanging on his back.
CHiPs, starring Michael Peña, Dax Shepard, and Jessica McNamee, is currently playing in theaters. Check local listings for times and venues.
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]