CHiPs: Mitchell & Woods (1981)
Season 5, Episode 12
Mitchell & Woods
23 April 2016
The genesis of this (thankfully) failed spin off of CHiPs lies in the earlier two-part episode "Ponch's Angels", in which Melanie Mitchell and Paula Woods are trainee CHP officers serving under Jon and Ponch. The blonde Mitchell in that episode was played by Trisha Townsend, in what was inexplicably her only acting role...that's right, she seems to NEVER have acted again after that. Brunette Woods was played by Barbara Stock (later on Spenser: For Hire), while Cindy Morgan of Caddyshack fame played Ponch's girlfriend-of-the-moment Jennifer.

Fast-forward to this episode...Cindy Morgan is back, though now she's filling in for MIA Trisha Townsend as Melanie. Barbara Stock is also absent, as model/beauty contest winner Jayne Kennedy has taken over the role of Paula. These two CHP officers have switched jobs...they now have joined the Ocean City Police Department as detectives.

So now they've went from hanging with Jon and Ponch to the standard motley crew of detectives that seem like rejects from Hill Street Blues. Initially, their Lieutenant gives them a stack of files with routine cases of arson and robbery, but then a case falls into their laps-- LITERALLY--when a hunky guy enters the station, saying he wants to report a murder (his own), then falls dead from a gunshot wound. In what seems like many head-scratching moments in this episode, the dead guy just happens to be a classmate of Mitchell's, the guy she almost went to her prom with! They manage to convince their tough Lieutenant (who turns out to be quite a paper tiger) to give them the murder case.

From there, the two neophyte detectives embark on their own trail of mayhem as they investigate the murder. They cause a multi-car accident (hey, what would CHiPs be without at least one per episode?), immobilize a biker gang with full cans of garbage, punch out a rich bitch (albeit accidentally) and leave an obnoxious gigolo handcuffed to a brass rail. All the while, we hear the characters narrating the episode as if this is supposed to be a Raymond Chandler novel, but instead of resembling The Big Sleep, it just might put you into one.

From watching this, it's hard to believe that a mere two seasons ago, CHiPs was one of the hottest TV series in the country. Certainly, the series took a major decline, but this is definitely one of the lowest of the low points. At least the girls are nice to look at. And what about Jon and Ponch in regards to this episode? They appear at the beginning (to hassle what they assume are their wayward charges), the middle (to give them advice and the name of an informant) and the end (for the inevitable wrap-up). Fortunately, for Robert Pine and the other regulars, their characters don't appear in this can only assume that, if they watched the finished product, they were most grateful.
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