In the summer of 1983, moviegoers flew into their seats to watch Roy Scheider go up in the air with Blue Thunder. Then came a second thunder on Friday, January 6, 1984 with ABC’s Blue Thunder with James Farentino succeeding Scheider.
Based on the hit film, the series starred Farentino as Frank Chaney, a LAPD pilot who has been assigned to pilot a hi-tech, sophisticated helicopter with advanced weapons and state-of-the-art surveillance that represents a clear and present danger to bad guys everywhere. Partnering with Chaney is Clinton “Jafo” Wonderlove (future Saturday Night Live superstar Dana Carvey), who also provides technical support.
Officers “Ski” Butowski (Chicago Bears alumni Dick Butkus) and “Bubba” Kelsey (Super Bowl V champion/defensive end Bubba Smith from the Police Academy films) are alongside the Blue Thunder team as ground support. Their boss is Captain Braddock (Sandy McPeak).
The year before the man and the machine known as Street Hawk, Blue Thunder was ABC’s first valiant attempt at success in the super-vehicle genre that began with David Hasselhoff as NBC’s Knight Rider in the fall of 1982.
Though it was somewhere in the ranks of The A-Team, the series wasn’t able to stay long enough in the airwaves against ratings juggernaut Dallas, and Blue Thunder‘s wings were clipped after just 11 episodes.