So, after getting Xbox Live I went through and added a TON of movies and TV shows to my list, everything from classic movies that I have or haven’t seen to TV shows I fondly remember or have always wanted to check out. One of those shows was Charles in Charge. After doing some digging online and through my memory, I remembered there being two families, the original Pembrokes and the latter day Powells. Apparently, the show didn’t get picked up after the first season, there was a two year gap and then it started up in syndication. I remembered both families from childhood (the first season which had the Pembrokes was from 1984-1985, the Powells from 1987-1990). So I figured what the heck, let’s check it out.
And you know what? I freaking LOVE the first season of Charles in Charge. It’s got boatloads of heart, it’s funny and, though sometimes corny, the performances are great. You really get the feeling that Charles and the Pembrokes really get along. All in all, it feels real. Well, mid-80s sitcom real. And Scott Baio (who plays Charles) is really freaking charming.
The basic idea is that Charles is a freshman in college who takes care of the Pembroke children (Douglas, Lila and Jason) in exchange for room and board in New Jersey. There isn’t really an overarching, season-long storyarc, which is fine, but each episode the basic format of Charles trying to live his life while juggling the Pembroke childrens’ problems, his own problems and his friends Buddy and Gwendolyn.
Now, while the Powells may be the more well-known family (as it includes a pre-Baywatch Nicole Eggert), but, as I sit here watching the first episode of the second season, I can’t help but like the Pembrokes better. Sure, it might just be bias, but I just find the Pembroke children and parents (the dad is played by James Widdoes who was Hoover in Animal House) more convincing.
This is rambling, definitely, and I kind of wish I would have made notes as I went along watching the episodes. A few highlights include a young Meg Ryan showing up a couple of times, Charles helping the teenage Lila deal with growing up (surprisingly honest, though also kind of hokey) and Douglas the nerdy Pembroke boy being a big time nerd in the 80s.
Normally this is where I’d tell you to do yourself a favor and check out Charles in Charge’s first season on Netflix (and I do), but I’ve also got to throw in a few thoughts on the first episode of the second season. Charles comes back from the summer trip he left for at the end of the first season. He comes into the Pembroke house to find different people living there. Mrs. Pembroke (though it’s not the same actress, blarg) informs Charles that Widdoes’ Stan Pembroke got transferred to Seattle and they moved (all of this took place in two weeks in the show’s time, but two years in real time, so everyone who was actually on the first season looks different). Jason, the youngest Pembroke is there as well and definitely looks more grown up. It’s actually a pretty sad moment when they leave and then Charles has to decide if he’s going to stay with this new family that the Pembrokes sublet their house to or move into an apartment with Buddy. We get to know the three Powell kids a little, there’s a boy who doesn’t do much, Nicole Eggert who’s pretty much a vapid, popular jerk and then Sarah who is a sensitive book lover who’s verging on maturity with no real direction. Her and Charles spend some time together and Charles decides to stay. Oh yeah, their mom is married to a guy in the miliitary and her dad lives with them, the grandpa isn’t too fond of Charles right off the bat. We’ll see where it goes from here, but season’s 2-5 (only up to 3 is on DVD so far) have a lot to live up to, as watching the first season has been one of the more enjoyable shows I’ve watched this year.