Show-related Frequently Asked Questions
Questions:
  1. What is "CHiPs"?
  2. When did "CHiPs" originally air?
  3. When is "CHiPs" on TV now?
  4. Why aren't episodes shown in order?
  5. When is the next "CHiPs" marathon?
  6. How many shows were there?
  7. Were there ever any "CHiPs" movies?
  8. How can I tell the difference between seasons?
  9. How did "CHiPs" do in ratings?
  10. How about giving credit where credit is due?
  11. I heard Erik Estrada had a motorcycle accident! Is he okay?
  12. Why isn't Ponch in some fall 1981 episodes?
  13. Why isn't Jon in the last season (1982-1983)?!
  14. Did Tom Reilly have a falling out with Estrada?
  15. I've heard of Bruce Penhall before. Where?
  16. Is Bruce Penhall the richest "CHiPs" actor?
  17. Where did they film all those chase scenes?
  18. Where did they film the scenes for Central?
  19. Is there anything else you can tell me about the show?


1) What is "CHiPs"?
"CHiPs" is an acronym for California Highway Patrol. It is also the name of a popular television program which ran on NBC from 1977 to 1983. "CHiPs" starred Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox (and later Tom Reilly) as CHP officers "Ponch" and "Jon" (and "Bobby").
Each week, these officers were shown riding their motorcycles through southern California as they kept the Los Angeles streets and freeways safe for citizens like you and me.

2) When did "CHiPs" originally air?
This information has been moved to the "CHiPs" Wiki.

3) When is "CHiPs" on TV now?
"CHiPs" can be found on the following networks:
  • Australia: TV1 (Unknown if this is still airing here in 2010)
  • Germany: VOX (Unknown if this is still airing here in 2010)
  • United Kingdom: Bravo (Unknown if this is still airing here in 2010)

4) Why aren't episodes shown in order?
When TNT aired "CHiPs" regularly, a member of the TNT programming department admitted that they had "no good reason" for showing the episodes out of order. However, airing episodes out of order makes it easier to organize "theme weeks" and popular episodes can air more often (ie: not so many episodes without Wilcox).
The episodes on the DVDs are in their original broadcast order.

5) When is the next "CHiPs" marathon?
There are none scheduled at this time.
Previous marathons were the "New Year's Day 'CHiPs' Marathon" in 1995, another marathon on May 11, 1995 (the night this site was created), on June 19, 1997 from Noon to 4pm, and October 23, 1998.

6) How many shows were there?
There were 139 episodes (double counting the 2 part episodes) across six seasons. In 1998, they were followed by the TV movie, "CHiPs" '99.

7) Were there ever any "CHiPs" movies?
Yes. CHiPs '99 first aired on Turner Network Television on October 27, 1998. For more information about this reunion movie, see the "CHiPs" Wiki.
There is also a motion picture in the works. A release date has not been set, but it is expected to be released in 2009.

8) How can I tell the difference between seasons?
Identifying marks of seasons:
  • Season 1 (1977-78)
    • The theme music has more horns than all the other seasons.
    • The copyright date at the end is in Roman numerals.
    • The cast includes: Ponch, Jon, Getraer, Baricza, and Fritz.
    • Grossman and Shain also make appearances.

  • Season 2 (1978-79)
    • The theme music gets a beat you can stomp your feet to.
    • If you see Sindy Cahill, it's definitely 2nd season.
    • The cast includes: Ponch, Jon, Getraer, Baricza, Grossman, Fritz, Cahill, and Harlan.

  • Season 3 (1979-80)
    • The copyright dates are no longer in Roman numerals.
    • The cast includes: Ponch, Jon, Getraer, Baricza, Grossman, Turner, Clark, and Harlan.

  • Season 4 (1980-81)
    • The cast includes: Ponch, Jon, Getraer, Baricza, Grossman, Turner, Clark, and Harlan.

  • Season 5 (1981-82)
    • Officer Steve McLeish sometimes replaces Ponch (during contract disputes).
    • The cast includes: Ponch, Jon, Getraer, Baricza, Grossman, Turner, Clark, and Harlan.

  • Season 6 (1982-83)
    • Just before the theme, a "this week on CHiPs" type clip is shown.
    • The theme has a new video track (including shots of Nelson and Getraer).
    • There is more than one theme for this season. One features Bruce prominently.
    • The cast includes: Ponch, Bobby Nelson, Getraer, Grossman, Webster, Linahan, Cadet/Officer Bruce Nelson, and Harlan.

  • "CHiPs" '99 (1998)
    • Too many differences to list. You'll know it when you see it.

9) How did "CHiPs" do in ratings?
This information has been moved to the "CHiPs" Wiki.

10) How about giving credit where credit is due?
You can find information on crew members in the "CHiPs" Wiki.

11) I heard Erik Estrada had a motorcycle accident! Is he okay?
Erik was injured in a motorcycle accident in 1979. It wasn't serious enough for him to miss any episodes. Although the accident was on the set, the footage was not used in the show.

12) Why isn't Ponch in some fall 1981 episodes?
Erik Estrada was in a salary dispute with MGM so they called in Bruce Jenner to substitute as Officer Steve McLeish. Soon after Estrada came back, Jenner left.

13) Why isn't Jon in the last season (1982-1983)?!
Larry Wilcox reportedly left the series because he didn't get along well with Erik Estrada. The reasoning on the show was that Jon went to work on his father's farm in Wyoming. So in "Meet the New Guy", Ponch got Bobby "Hot Dog" Nelson as a new partner. (About 1,800 people auditioned for the role of Bobby before the 23 year-old Tom Reilly got the job.) Nelson's younger brother, Bruce, also joined in as a trainee later that season.

14) Did Tom Reilly have a falling out with Estrada?
Yes. Apparently, by the end of the last season, Mr. Reilly fell out of favor with Erik. Also, in December of 1982, he was arrested for possession of marijuana. In some of the last episodes, Bruce Penhall became Estrada's new partner. Penhall did an interview in May 1983 saying he expected to return to "CHiPs" in a 7th season. It was not to be. The show got cancelled.

15) I've heard of Bruce Penhall before. Where?
Penhall was a championship motorcycle racer before he became Cadet Bruce Nelson on "CHiPs". He was a millionaire before even taking the role. For "CHiPs", he reportedly was paid $4,000 per episode.
Now he's an accomplished boat racer and has his own line of sunglasses.

16) Is Bruce Penhall's the richest "CHiPs" actor?
Probably not. Michael Dorn is surely making a huge wad of cash from playing "Worf" in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek movies after (and including) Star Trek VI.

17) Where did they film all those chase scenes?
Most of the big car-wreck and chase scenes were filmed on two stretches of freeway not yet in operation. The first few seasons, they were building the I-210 out in the San Fernando Valley and so they used that stretch a lot.
In the last few seasons, the I-210 link had already been opened, so they moved to the Long Beach end of the I-710 freeway (I-710 was CA-7 back then), where they were building about a 2-mile stretch.

18) Where did they film the scenes for Central?
Some of the scenes were shot at the actual CHP Central underneath the Santa Monica Freeway. The station has since been demolished.

Other scenes were shot in a Hollywood studio which was built as an exact replica of the building.
The actual address of the building was:
777 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles 90015-4113

19) Is there anything else you can tell me about the show?
  • In October 1981, during breaks in filming, the "CHiPs" cast donated blood for two real CHP officers who were shot in the line of duty. One officer died and the other survived.
  • Most of the characters on the show were named after real CHP officers.