Remembering ‘CHiPs” Kiss-Inspired Halloween Episode
On Halloween 1982, CHiPs aired one of the most hare-brained, lovable episodes of its six-season run, with the stars getting involved in the life of a rocker whose on-stage appearance is quite clearly modeled on Gene Simmons of Kiss.
"Rock Devil Rock," a holiday-themed special, featured a satanic rock star, played by Don Most (Ralph Malph of Happy Days) as a knock-off of Simmons named Moloch. The episode was appropriately directed by John Astin, best known for his role as Gomez Addams on The Addams Family, and the story turned out to be more laughably corny than spooky.
It opens at a thunderous Moloch concert. Most is decked out in full, Kiss-inspired face makeup and an elaborate blood-red stage outfit, complete with a cape. The majority of the crowd is hooked -- though there are handfuls of people protesting the devilish display -- as Moloch sprints and leaps from each end of the stage with plumes of open flame behind him. He unabashedly sings about the age-old rock band cliche: fraternizing with the devil, with lyrics like, "Prince of Darkness, Lord of Night / I'm gonna dance with the devil in the burning light / I was born to sin, wild and free / And when I die, there's a devil takin' me."
Watch Don Most as Moloch Perform "Devil Take Me"
As it turns out, Moloch's lyrics come to fruition. As he's escorted from the concert by CHiPs stars Ponch (Erik Estrada) and Bobby (Tom Reilly), the singer's car, a hearse decorated with satanic symbols and the number 666, takes on a mind of its own and plays a mysterious tape. "Moloch must die," says the sinister voice. The car fills with smoke and spirals out of control, leaving Ponch and Bobby to rescue him.
Convinced that the voice means business, Moloch panics and nearly quits, but stays on board after his manager, Vincent (Peter Marshall), reminds him of the vast fame and fortune he would leave behind.
But Bobby, affectionately dubbed "Hot Dog," is sure it's nothing more than a publicity stunt. When played again, the supposed evil tape recovered from the car sounds like nothing but garbled noise, but played backwards reveals the message again: "Moloch must die!" The officers begin to suspect Vincent is behind the matter.
Meanwhile, Moloch is performing a promotional set which, as promised, has been rigged by his corrupt manager to kill him. Ponch and Bobby arrive just in time to save Moloch's life for a second time.
The episode also includes appearances from several other notable characters, including an 18-year-old Robert Trujillo of Metallica as Flippy, who is befriended by Ponch, and Cassandra Peterson, playing the Elvira persona that she had debuted a year earlier.
A Halloween party closes out the show. Moloch -- who goes by Mickey Northagen offstage -- arrives sans costume and without his usual Gene Simmons makeup, saying that he wanted to arrive as something he's wanted to be for a long time: himself.
Watch Ponch and Bobby Save Moloch
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