Blue Thunder (TV series)

Blue Thunder is an American action drama television series based on the movie of the same title that aired on ABC from January 6 until April 16, 1984 featuring the Blue Thunder helicopter.[1]

Blue Thunder
Blue thunder dvd.jpg
DVD cover
Based onBlue Thunder
Directed byGuy Magar
StarringJames Farentino
Dana Carvey
Sandy McPeak
Dick Butkus
Bubba Smith
Composer(s)Frank Denson
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes11
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Rastar Productions
Public Arts
Columbia Pictures Television
DistributorSony Pictures Television
Original networkABC
Picture format480i
Original releaseJanuary 6 (1984-01-06) –
April 16, 1984 (1984-04-16)
A mock-up of the Blue Thunder helicopter, as seen on the back lot tour of Disney Hollywood Studios, Florida

The series uses the converted Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopter and large portions of stock footage from the 1983 film. A ground unit named "Rolling Thunder" backed up the helicopter in the television series. This was a large support van with a desert camouflage off-road vehicle stored inside.

The television series cast includes James Farentino, Dana Carvey, and former professional American football players Bubba Smith and Dick Butkus. The series was canceled by ABC after they felt the similar Airwolf on CBS would win the ratings battle.[citation needed] Also, the series aired at the same time as the CBS soap opera Dallas on Friday nights, and lost.

Eleven episodes were made before the series was cancelled.[2]


  • James Farentino as Frank Chaney, protagonist, policeman and pilot of the "Blue Thunder".
  • Dana Carvey as Clinton Wonderlove, aka "JAFO", Frank's flight engineer on "Blue Thunder", as well as his sidekick. Clinton handles technical aspects of the chopper.
  • Sandy McPeak as Captain Braddock, Frank's superior.
  • Bubba Smith as "Bubba" Kelsey, a cop who is one of the two members of "Rolling Thunder", Frank's ground crew.
  • Dick Butkus as "Ski" Butowski, another cop who is the other member of "Rolling Thunder".
  • Ann Cooper as J.J. Douglas, radio operator who is Frank's contact at headquarters, and the only female regular in the series.

Episode listEdit

No. Title Directed by Written by Air date
1"Second Thunder"Gilbert M. ShiltonDavid Moessinger,
Jeri Taylor
January 6, 1984 (1984-01-06)
The team is formed to stop a madman who has been gunning down regular police helicopters
2"A Clear and Present Danger"Charles PicerniS : James Patrick,
Don Safran;
T : Mike Robe
January 13, 1984 (1984-01-13)
The team must stop a paramilitary operation that is trying to take over the country through political assassinations and bank robberies.
3"Arms Race"Gilbert M. ShiltonS : Doreen Bergesen;
T : Craig Buck;
S/T : Dan O'Bannon,
Don Jakobul
January 20, 1984 (1984-01-20)
The team goes after an arms smuggling ring being run by an old friend of Chaney's that is selling weapons to an African tyrant.
4"Revenge in the Sky"Bernard McEveetyJames DohertyJanuary 27, 1984 (1984-01-27)
Chaney discovers that the FBI agent, who had asked the team to recover a stolen Korean War fighter plane, is a Soviet double agent.
5"Trojan Horse"Guy MagarBrian Alan LaneFebruary 3, 1984 (1984-02-03)
Bubba and Ski go undercover in a prison, as inmate and guard, to prevent a convicted swindler from escaping.
6"Skydiver"Guy MagarRick KelbaughFebruary 24, 1984 (1984-02-24)
Chaney must decide whether to rescue the lovely president of a third world nation who is about to be assassinated or to rescue Bubba and Ski who are on a small plane which is about to crash.
7"Clipped Wings"Bernard McEveetyAllison HockMarch 2, 1984 (1984-03-02)
Chaney's archrival is given control of Blue Thunder after Chaney is reassigned for breaking off a drug stake out in order to pursue kidnappers.
8"Payload"Bernard KowalskiDaniel FreudenbergerMarch 9, 1984 (1984-03-09)
The team has been assigned to transport a new gene splicing experiment, making it a target of a company which stands to lose millions if the experiment is a success.
9"The Long Flight"Phil BondelliFred McKnightMarch 16, 1984 (1984-03-16)
A Mexican drug lord kidnaps Captain Braddock's daughter Amy (played by Kelly Preston) and demands Blue Thunder as a ransom.
10"The Godchild"Guy MagarJohn Thomas James,
Richard Danus,
Peter Collins
March 23, 1984 (1984-03-23)
Chaney must convince the granddaughter of a dead mobster to turn her grandfather's business documents over to the FBI before his old business associates kill her to get them.
11"The Island"Earl BellamyS : Dan O'Bannon,
Don Jakoby,
John Fransic O'Hara;
T : James Patrick
April 16, 1984 (1984-04-16)
The team journeys to a small Caribbean island to prevent American mercenaries, who have been hired by the KGB, from killing the Prime Minister.

US television ratingsEdit

Season Episodes Premiered: Ended: Nielsen rank Nielsen Rating[3] Tied with:
1983–84 11 January 6, 1984 (1984-01-06) April 16, 1984 (1984-04-16) 60 14.2 N/A

Home mediaEdit

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the complete series on DVD in Region 1 on August 22, 2006.[4] A Region 2 release followed on September 27, 2010.[5]


  1. ^ O'Connor, John J. (6 January 1984). "TV WEEKEND; 'JERK TOO,' 'BLUE THUNDER'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  2. ^ "Blue Thunder: The Complete Series". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  3. ^ "1983-84 Ratings History -- The Networks Are Awash in a Bubble Bath of Soaps".
  4. ^ "Blue Thunder DVD news: A Thundering Change In The Box Art!". Archived from the original on 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
  5. ^ "Blue Thunder: The Complete Series [DVD]: James Farentino, Dana Carvey, Dick Butkus, Bubba Smith: Film & TV". Retrieved 2012-06-28.

External linksEdit