Thursday, July 17, 2008

Quick Rant: Charles in Charge

OK, this is going to sound weird because Charles in Charge hasn't been in production in almost two decades, but I have been catching up on episodes in my down time, and I am near the completion of season one.

Charles in Charge is like any other situation comedy out there. Each and every week a story is told, and in the end of the 24 minute episode, a lesson is learned. Things were a little different with Charles in Charge, however, as most of the lessons weren't taught by a family member, but the live-in babysitter.

Charles was played by Scott Baio, he was a college student who needed a place to stay and in return for room and board, offered to help a family out with their children. His best friend Buddy Lembeck was played by Willie Aames. Buddy was the girl-crazed bubble-head, who played so well next to Charles' smart and mature persona.

During the first season which ran from 1984-85, Charles was the live-in caretaker of the Pembroke family. The Pembroke's were a lovely family led by father Stan (played by James Widdoes, or Hoover in Animal House). Jill (Julie Cobb) played the mother, while the three children were Lila (April Lerman), Douglas (Jonathan Ward) and Jason (Michael Pearlman).

Lila was a teenager in junior high, who was confused about her status in life. She was a smart girl, who was interested in student government, but was also trying to be popular and play a sport. Douglas was 12 years old and a science fiction nerd, who loved to learn - he was often found wearing rubber masks or science fiction-themed costumes. Michael was 10 years old, but small for his age, and loved to play sports - despite his size.

The reason for this rant, however, is that I was not used to the Pembroke family when I think of Charles in Charge. When I think of the show, I think of the Powell family - because that is who the family was when I watched.

The problem is, when I watch the original season now - I actually think I enjoy the Pembroke family better than the Powell family.

According to wikipedia, the original season which had the Pembroke family in it aired from 1984-85. The show was then on hiatus for nearly two years until it was picked up for syndication in 1987 and ran until 1990.

When the show returned, Charles still remained in the house (they played it off as if there wasn't a 2-year gap in the lives of those on the show), however, the Pembroke family sold their house to the Powell family and moved to Seattle. But, of course, the Powell family allowed Charles to remain living in the house, but this time would take care of their three children.

The Powell's consisted of a grandfather, Walter (James T. Callahan), mother, Ellen (Sandra Kerns) and her three children, Jamie (Nicole Eggert), Sarah (Josie Davis) and Adam (Alexander Polinsky). Buddy also returned as the faithful sidekick to Charles.

The premise remained the same, although Jamie was more into fashion and popularity than Lila was. Sarah was the brain of the family (and middle child), much like Douglas. And Andy was a lot like the Jason character.

I could find no real reason for the change in families. I enjoyed Charles in Charge during its original run, but now that I have seen the original season, I have to admit I think I would have liked the show a lot more had the Pembroke family remained.

Perhaps they changed the family to add Eggert, who was much easier playing the popular high school girl than Lerman could have. Eggert is nice to look at (see example), but Lerman was by no means unattractive.

Another reason is, perhaps they had a difficult time corralling the entire Pembroke family after a 2-year hiatus. Lerman was a highly regarded Broadway singer, and Widdoes, despite not appearing on camera in awhile, has spent a good amount of time behind it directing. So, without a handful of family members, perhaps the producers decided best to just start over with a new family.

Either way - I would have liked to have seen how the Pembroke family played out. Maybe it's time for a Charles in Charge reunion.

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