Saturday, October 13, 2018

CHiPs - "Things That Go Creep in the Night"

 "Things That Go Creep in the Night"
CHiPs - Season 6, Episode 21
Original Airdate: April 10, 1983

Things That Go Creep in the Night
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, returns for her second episode of CHiPs as Ponch and Company try to solve the mystery of a frightened young woman (played by Kelly Preston in one of her earliest roles) with amnesia who is being stalked by a comic book sea-monster that has come to life!  This is a pretty wacky episode of CHiPs that is jam-packed full of tasty horror movie and comic book nonsense.

Elvira and Her Pet Tarantula
The episode begins with Anna, the frightened young woman mentioned above, screaming and running along the coastline, where she eventually runs into traffic and causes a traffic accident.  This being CHiPs, the accident involves multiple cars crashing into each other and flipping over.  Even better, one of the cars was hauling hot tar which spills out on to the road.  Now Anna lies unconscious on the road with hot tar edging ever closer to her!  And, to double the danger, gasoline is dripping from the wrecked cars, and if it comes into contact with the hot tar, it could explode.  Wait, did I say "could explode?"  This is CHiPs, of course it's going to explode!  Looks like it's time for Ponch to arrive on the scene and pick her up and run to safety just seconds before the explosion.  Afterwards, the CHiPs have only one clue to go on: a copy of a comic book cover that Anna had clutched in her hand.


The comic book in question is "Sea-Thing," which is a poorly drawn rip-off of Marvel's Man-Thing.  In particular, it looks to be ripped off from Man-Thing #1 from 1979, right down to the "frightful 1st issue" blurb.  For good measure, though, the artist threw in some logos on the top that were ripped off from DC Comics, so you get a nice double-whammy there.  To learn more about the comic book, Ponch goes to his favorite comic book shop.  Ponch's partner Bruce is surprised that Ponch has a favorite comic book shop, until they get inside and he discovers that Elvira works there.  Why is Elvira working in a comic book shop?  This is never really addressed.

The Old "Eye-Holes-In-A-Painting" Gag
They do make some attempts to turn it into an Elvira-friendly comic book shop, so there are red drapes and carpets, a weird throne for Elvira to sit in, a picture of Frankenstein's Monster on the wall, a tarantula running around on a spinner rack... there is even a customer in the store dressed like a werewolf.  But it mostly looks like they took a big stack of comic books and a bunch of random junk and threw it together on a soundstage to make it look vaguely comic-book-store-like, presumably by someone who's never actually been in one.  But still, it's got Elvira in it, and lots of comic books in the background that I remember reading in the 1980s, so I got a kick out of it, just the same.

The Sea-Thing Emerges from the Ocean
Next they stop at the home of the artist who wrote and drew the comic, Stanley Woods (probably named after Stan Lee and Wally Wood), played by celebrity impressionist Rich Little.  Stanley Woods is supposed to be a grade-A weirdo.  He lives in a castle on the coast, and is a comic book writer, artist, ventriloquist, musician, and magician.  He is evasive and creepy to Ponch and Bruce, and is constantly playing strange pranks on them in his house.  Ponch doesn't like being made fun of one bit, and immediately pegs Woods as his prime suspect.  What he suspects him of, however, is not clear.  So far the only "crime" that has occured is a traffic accident.  Plus, Ponch is a traffic cop, not a detective, he shouldn't be investigating crimes even when they do occur.  Of course, half the fun of watching CHiPs is to see how far astray the officers go from their actual Highway Patrol duties.

Rich Little Plays With His Organ
Part of the problem with the mystery here is that I think Rich Little's character is supposed to be much more menacing than he is... Little may have been a talented comedian, but he didn't really have any acting skills to play "dangerous" or "menacing," and instead just hams it up.  But the episode quickly reveals that Litte's character is guilty of something, as he starts wearing disguises amd adopting fake voices on the telephone as he tries to learn the location of the amnesiac girl.  And once he does find her, the "Sea-Thing" emerges from the ocean and attempts to carry her off before it is fought off by Ponch.

Pinball Werewolf
Eventually they learn that Anna's mother is the true creator of the Sea-Thing comic book.  Her mother is supposed to be dead, but the Highway Patrol has her grave exhumed, and they find a porcelain replica of her mother in the coffin instead of a corpse.  This eventually leads them back to the castle of Stanley Woods, where they believe Anna's mother is alive and being held captive, being forced to draw new issues of the comic for Woods.  The CHiPs attempt to arrest Woods, but he escapes in his hearse (?!) and leads the cops on a chase, that, of course, involves Ponch and Bruce making stuntman jumps in their motorcycles and ends with a car crash.  Ponch then chases Woods on foot across the beach, before Woods feet get tangled up in some ironically placed sea-weed.

Porcelain Corpse
On a side note, I mentioned in one of my earlier CHiPs reviews (Rock Devil Rock) how in season 6 Larry Wilcox had quit the show and his character Jon had been replaced by an equally bland blonde doofus named Hot Dog.  Towards the end of the season, I guess Hot Dog was just too boring, because they introduced a new character, Hot Dog's little brother Bruce, who replaces Hot Dog as Ponch's new partner.  Think of Bruce as the "Cousin Oliver" of CHiPs, a fresh young character designed to appeal to kids.  Poor Hot Dog was still on the show, though, but he was relegated to third wheel status, like they guy they would send off to get coffee and donuts while the "real" CHiPs did all the work.  In the scene towards the end where Ponch and Bruce do stuntman jumps on their motorcycles as they chase Rich Little's hearse, Hot Dog is with them, but he impotently comes to a halt when the other two do their jumps, like he is incapable of keeping up with them.  It almost makes me wonder if something was going on behind the scenes and the TV producers were deliberately trying to make actor Tom Reilly look bad.  It's gotta suck to start off the season being the co-star of a popular TV show, and the end the season just a step above being an extra.

Dr. Fakebeard
The episode concludes with Anna and her mother reunited in the police station with the CHiPs.  Then everyone make's fun of Officer Grossman for being fat, and they freeze frame on their smiling faces as they laugh at him and the end credits roll.  CHiPs.

Apparently the "spider web" from Elvira's previous episode of CHiPs (Rock Devil Rock) didn't cover up enough of her boobs.

More screencaps after the break...

Hot Tar Spill

Tar Trouble

CHiPs in the Castle

Vanishing Weirdo

Rich Little Creeps It Up

Sea Monster POV


The Dummy

Trust Us, This is a Comic Book Shop... And Not Just Somebody's House With Some Junk in the Windows!

Ponch Vs. Teen Wolf

Tarantula on Thor

Tarantula on Bobby's Shoulder
Face of the Sea-Thing

Hey, that's the issue of Firestrom where he turns into a werewolf!  I had that when I was a kid!  Heck, it's probably still packed away in a box in my closet...

County Coroner

Exhumed Coffin

Hey look, it's character actor Royal Dano!

Rich Little in Drag

Beach Castle

Rich Little Drives a Hearse


Stuntman Jump

Hearse Wreck

Beach Chase!


  1. Good Golly - Did I block this entire episode out??? Insane, even for this show!