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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Charles In Charge - The Complete First Season (Universal DVD Set)

Charles In Charge – The Complete First Season


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: C



So many actors do not survive after a huge hit.  In Scott Baio’s case, he had starred in the underrated Alan Parker all-children’s gangster musical Bugsy Malone (1976, reviewed elsewhere on this site) before he became the guest relative that stayed on Happy Days as Fonzie’s cousin Chachi.  There was even the infamously failed spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi, which the end of Happy Days tried to revive.  With that, it was thought Baio was at the end of his child star era, which usually means the end of a career.  At the same time, Willie Aames was on the huge hit show Eight Is Enough as a member of the Bradford Family in that one-hour drama.  After some silly feature films, it was thought he too might have ended his career as only a child star.  So someone decided to cast them together in the first major bubblegum sitcom.  Charles In Charge became an unlikely hit, but syndication and cable TV were kicking in and like Mars needing women, they needed programming.


The show’s primary audiences were young girls and gay men, but the scripts were bubblegum all the way.  The show features its male leads as college buddies helping out a family who need all the help they can get.  The interesting thing about this show is that the producers thought that if they made the jokes sillier and faster than the usual sitcom, an MTV-influenced decision, they’d find an audience.  Faster than you can say N’Sync, they became the new kids on the sitcom block and the show survived on lower, consistent ratings than would have kept it afloat if it had to compete against truly formidable competition.  The show debuted on CBS, but lasted longer after it was cancelled.  All 22 mind-numbing shows are here from the First Season and they have aged badly, which says something since the show was so bad to begin with.


The titles and summaries are so ludicrous that it is one of the sitcoms most responsible for dumbing down TV in particular and viewers in general, like when the family gets stuck in a movie theater.  How does stupidity like this happen?  Producers who think their audience are airheaded morons, but this is nostalgia for someone and at least no one is mutilated, tortured or killed.  After all, we have to give credit where credit is due.


The 1.33 X 1 image is softer than expected for a professional NTSC production and maybe the kind of slightly brighter than usual lighting is a reason.  Sitcoms are already lit flatly enough, so anything that makes the situation worse is likely to be picked up on a format like DVD.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is Mono, meaning that despite the fact that it was produced in 1984, Stereo was still not the norm and the producers saw no use for stereo.  Extras include a second episode and half-hour 1980s TV retrospective that also happens to plug all the 1980s shows Universal has coming out on DVD.  Hope we see the same for their 1970s shows.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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