The Blue Thunder TV series was a backward step to the more explosive and gritty film starring Roy Scheider. The movie had a great, electronic soundtrack for starters whereas the TV series has a score from something belonging to the 1970s although don't get me wrong I do kinda like the opening TV theme.
In fact the entire series is very dated even for 1983. The cockpit shots showing the maverick copper Cheney and his sidekick JAFO look a little false: it just looks like they are seated under a large air-conditioning fan in order to signify that Blue Thunder's rotars are whirling above them. Was that detail really necessary?
However, they do not entirely rely on the movie for Blue Thunder's flying scenes. We see plenty of desert flying and flying over the sea. Additionally, the head-on driving shots of Bubba and "Ski" (in their large blue armoured backup vehicle) look awful! They buffet from side to side a little and Ski makes sure to spin the stearing wheel around to make it look like he is driving. Come on this is 1983 not 1963! You can do better than that!
I can see why Blue Thunder lost out to Airwolf. In the former, pretty much no-one dies; there are few explosions; and the plots are not that complex or involving. It's certainly more of a family-friendly series like the A-Team whereas in Airwolf the hero, Hawke, uses that chopper to kill more people than TB (Airwolf also has the best music scores of any series).
It's quite an omission not to have any continuity from the movie. Blue Thunder is destroyed on a railway line at the end. What happened next? Did they have another in reserve or did they make another? What happened to Murphy (Scheider's character). They never mention him in the TV series. When they talk about whether a chopper had been used to make a 360 degree loop no-one says that Murphy had done. Shame.
The TV series is just okay. I don't think it's worth 2 stars. I'd prefer to give it 2 and a half but must go for a 3.