Charles in Charge
Charles in Charge is an American sitcom television series that premiered on October 3, 1984, on CBS. The series was a production of Al Burton Productions and Scholastic Productions in association with Universal Television and starred Scott Baio, who had previously starred in Happy Days, in the title role. Willie Aames, who had previously been a cast member on Eight Is Enough, also starred as Charles’s best friend Buddy Lembeck.
|Charles in Charge|
|Created by||Michael Jacobs|
|Theme music composer|
|Opening theme||"Charles in Charge" performed by Shandi Sinnamon|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||126 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Picture format||480i 4:3 NTSC|
|Original release||October 3, 1984 –|
November 10, 1990
Charles in Charge joined the CBS Wednesday night lineup at 8 PM, placing it against ABC’s hit action series The Fall Guy and the new Michael Landon-led Highway to Heaven on NBC. At the time, with the exception of their Monday night comedies (Kate & Allie and Newhart), CBS’ sitcom lineup was not performing well in the ratings and Charles in Charge did not do much to change that. Still, the network allowed the show to remain in production to complete the 22 episodes it had ordered for the season.
After the February 27, 1985 episode, CBS placed Charles in Charge on hiatus. There were two episodes that had yet to air, and CBS aired them on March 13 and April 3, 1985. The network then dropped Charles in Charge from its Wednesday lineup in favor of the mystery drama series Double Dare; the show was moved to Saturday, where it aired in reruns for several weeks until it was replaced by the drama Cover Up. None of these series were renewed for a second season, nor were either of the two comedies that shared the hour with Charles in Charge (Dreams and E/R).
One year later, after seeing the success of some cancelled network series after they were revived for first-run syndication (which was a significant trend at the time), Universal decided to rework and relaunch Charles in Charge in syndication. The show premiered on local stations at the midway point of the 1986-87 season, with the first episode of the new series premiering on January 3, 1987. Four seasons were produced for syndication, with the last episode airing on November 10, 1990. A total of 126 episodes were produced, 22 in the abbreviated first season and 26 in each of the syndicated seasons.
The series takes place in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Charles, whose last name is never revealed, is a student at Copeland College (fictional, perhaps meant to represent Rutgers University whose main campus is in New Brunswick) and is nineteen years old when the series begins.
Needing a place to live while attending school, Charles applies for a job working for Stan and Jill Pembroke, an affluent couple in search of a live-in housekeeper. An arrangement is reached where Charles would take the job with the Pembrokes while he attended Copeland, and in lieu of a salary he would receive room and board for his duties as caretaker for their children Jason, Douglas, and Lila, all three of whom are not much younger than he is. In addition to this, as well as his escapades with his best friend Buddy, Charles has a crush on fellow Copeland student Gwendolyn Pierce and spends quite a bit of his free time trying to court her, which never seems to work.
Syndicated series changesEdit
When the show returned in 1987, only Scott Baio and Willie Aames returned from the original cast as the producers reworked the story to accommodate the changes in cast.
The second season’s first episode featured Charles returning to New Brunswick from his summer vacation only to discover an unfamiliar family living in the Pembrokes’ home. He learns that the Pembrokes left New Jersey while he was away and have moved across the country to Seattle. The new family, the Powells, agreed to sublet the house from the Pembrokes, which included retaining Charles’s services as live-in babysitter.
The Powell clan consisted of mother Ellen and grandfather Walter, who was Ellen’s husband’s widowed father and who was living with them to fulfill his son’s role as he served overseas in the U.S. Navy. Like the Pembrokes, the Powells also had three children, daughters Jamie and Sarah and younger brother Adam.
Charles’s previously unseen widowed mother Lillian became a central character in the revival series. She was played by Ellen Travolta, which marked the second time she had played mother to a character portrayed by Baio; she had done the same thing on Joanie Loves Chachi several years earlier.
|Willie Aames||Buddy Lembeck||Main|
|Jennifer Runyon||Gwendolyn Pierce||Main||Guest||Does not appear|
|James Widdoes||Stan Pembroke||Main||Does not appear|
|Julie Cobb||Jill Pembroke||Main||Does not appear|
|April Lerman||Lila Pembroke||Main||Does not appear|
|Jonathan Ward||Douglas Pembroke||Main||Does not appear|
|Michael Pearlman||Jason Pembroke||Main||Guest||Does not appear|
|James T. Callahan||Walter Powell||Does not appear||Main|
|Sandra Kerns||Ellen Powell||Does not appear||Main||Guest||Recurring|
|Nicole Eggert||Jamie Powell||Does not appear||Main|
|Josie Davis||Sarah Powell||Does not appear||Main|
|Alexander Polinsky||Adam Powell||Does not appear||Main|
|Ellen Travolta||Lillian||Does not appear||Recurring||Main|
Michael Pearlman and Jennifer Runyon are the only other actors, besides Baio and Aames, to reprise their roles on the show after the first season. Pearlman appeared in the second-season premiere, "Amityville". (Lisa Donovan played Jill Pembroke in that episode.) Runyon appeared in "Twice Upon a Time (Part 1)" and "Twice Upon a Time (Part 2)".
In the final two seasons, Sandra Kerns only made three more appearances (once in season 4 and twice in season 5). Baio and Aames are the only two cast members that appear in every single episode.
In September 2007, it was announced that Arts Alliance America (which subsequently changed its name to Virgil Films & Entertainment during the summer of 2007) had acquired the rights to the series. They subsequently released seasons 2–5 on DVD. Seasons 4 and 5 were Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) releases, available exclusively through Amazon.com.
|DVD name||Ep #||Release date|
|The Complete First Season||22||February 14, 2006|
|The Complete Second Season||26||November 20, 2007|
|The Complete Third Season||26||May 20, 2008|
|The Complete Fourth Season||26||March 24, 2009|
|The Complete Fifth and Final Season||26||July 28, 2009|
In addition, the entire series can be streamed on the NBC.com app.
When Charles in Charge returned to television, there had been an arrangement made with stations owned by Tribune Broadcasting to carry the program in first-run. Through this arrangement, the show was also able to gain nationwide carriage as its Chicago affiliate, WGN-TV, was a national cable superstation.
In 1988, with the series nearing the one hundred episode mark, distributor MCA Television began advertising in trade publications that they would begin selling reruns of Charles in Charge to local stations for a fall 1989 launch. The show reached the hundred episode mark when the 1988-89 season ended, and the show began airing daily in syndication shortly thereafter. After the final episode aired in 1990, the syndication package added them as well; the package included the first 22 episodes that had aired on CBS and the 78 that had aired over the first three seasons in syndication.
- "Charles in Charge DVD news: Announcement for Charles In Charge - The Complete 2nd Season - TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on 2012-04-19.
- Where Does the 4th Season of the Scott Baio Series Currently Stand? Archived 2009-02-08 at the Wayback Machine TVShowsOnDVD.com. January 28, 2009.
- Charles in Charge – The 5th and Final Season is Available on DVD in July! Archived 2009-06-07 at the Wayback Machine TVShowsOnDVD.com. June 5, 2009
- Amazon Video: Charles in Charge Retrieved January 23, 2013
- "Scott Baio Willie Aames 1988 Ad- Charles In Charge MCA TV". Collectors.com.