Charles in Charge

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Charles in Charge
Charles in Charge.jpg
Created by Michael Jacobs
Barbara Weisberg
Starring Scott Baio
Willie Aames
Julie Cobb (season 1)
James Widdoes (season 1)
April Lerman (season 1)
Jonathan Ward (season 1)
Michael Pearlman (season 1)
Jennifer Runyon (season 1)
Sandra Kerns (seasons 2-5)
Nicole Eggert (seasons 2-5)
Josie Davis (seasons 2-5)
Alexander Polinsky
(seasons 2-5)
Ellen Travolta (seasons 2-5)
James T. Callahan
(seasons 2-5)
Justin Whalin
(season 4)
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 126 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Al Burton
Co-executive producers:
Jane Startz
Michael Jacobs (seasons 2-4)
Producer(s) Michael Jacobs
(season 1)
Roseanne Leto (pilot episode)
Mitchell Bank
Todd E. Kessler (seasons 2-4)
Running time 24:30 (CBS);
22:30 (first-run syndication)
Production company(s) Scholastic Productions
Al Burton Productions
Distributor Universal Television
NBCUniversal Television Distribution (2004-Present)
The Program Exchange (1998-2008)
Original channel CBS (1984–1985)
First-run syndication (1987–1990)
Original release October 3, 1984 (1984-10-03) – November 10, 1990 (1990-11-10)

Charles in Charge is an American sitcom starring Scott Baio. The series aired for a total of 126 episodes over five seasons and featured Baio in his second leading role; he had previously played Chachi Arcola on the sitcom Joanie Loves Chachi and had originated the role on Happy Days. The series was a production of Al Burton Productions and Scholastic Productions in association with Universal Television.

Baio starred as Charles, a college student attending the fictional Copeland College in New Brunswick, New Jersey,[1] who finds a unique living arrangement with a family in need of a caretaker for their young children.[2] The show also starred Willie Aames as Charles' best friend Buddy Lembeck; Aames, like Baio, was a 1970s television star and had previously appeared on Eight Is Enough.

Charles in Charge premiered on CBS on October 3, 1984, and aired initially on Wednesday nights at 8 PM paired with another new sitcom, Dreams. Facing off against two hits in ABC's The Fall Guy and NBC's Highway to Heaven, neither show performed well and Charles in Charge was moved to Saturday nights after the cancellation of Dreams. CBS eventually decided to cancel the series after it made no improvement in the ratings after its move to Saturday, and Charles in Charge aired its final episode on April 3, 1985, in its original time slot.

At the time of CBS' decision to cancel Charles in Charge, a trend had emerged where network series, especially comedies, would find new life in first-run syndication after cancellation. Universal took advantage of this and relaunched Charles in Charge in syndication. The first new episode premiered on January 3, 1987, and four more seasons were produced before the show came to an end on November 10, 1990.


When the series premiered, Charles had just taken a job with Stan and Jill Pembroke to take care of their three children, sons Jason and Douglas and daughter Lila. In exchange for his services, the Pembrokes provide Charles with room and board and allow him to live in their basement.

When the show returned in 1987, the Powell family was living in the home; the Pembrokes had moved to Seattle and had agreed to sublet the house, which included allowing Charles to continue living there. The family retained Charles' services as well, and he became caretaker for Ellen Powell's three children, son Adam and daughters Jamie and Sarah. In addition to them, Ellen's father-in-law Walter moved into the home to serve as his grandchildren's father figure; Ellen's husband was a Navy officer who was often on duty and thus rarely saw his family.

Charles' mother Lillian, who had not been seen in the initial series, became a more central figure in her son's life when the show moved to syndication as well.


Actor/Actress(s) Role
Scott Baio Charles
Willie Aames Buddence "Buddy" Lembeck
Jennifer Runyon Gwendolyn Pierce
James Widdoes Stan Pembroke
Julie Cobb Jill Pembroke
April Lerman Lila Pembroke
Jonathan Ward Douglas Pembroke
Michael Pearlman Jason Pembroke
James T. Callahan Walter Powell
Sandra Kerns Ellen Powell
Nicole Eggert Jamie Powell
Josie Davis Sarah Powell
Alexander Polinsky Adam Powell
Ellen Travolta Lillian

Michael Pearlman and Jennifer Runyon are the only other actors, besides Baio and Aames, to reprise their roles on the show. 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).

Charles' mother, Lillian, was played by Ellen Travolta, John Travolta's sister. She also played her sisters (Charles's aunts), Sally and Vanessa. She had previously played the mother of Chachi Arcola, Scott Baio's character on Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi. Chachi's real name, incidentally, was also Charles.

Nicole Eggert went on to star in Baywatch (1992–1994). Josie Davis also made one appearance in a 1998 Baywatch episode. Both Charles in Charge and Baywatch were TV shows that began on network TV, before moving to first-run syndication.

Baio and Aames are the only two cast members that appear every single episode.

Guest cast[edit]

  • Ben Stein guest starred as "Stanley Willard", a malevolent loan officer, guidance counselor, college professor and mental patient throughout the series.

Season 1[edit]

  • During the first season, Jerry Levine had a recurring role as Elliott Pembroke, Stan's nephew.
  • Meg Ryan guest starred as "Meagan Parker" in two episodes of the show's first season: "War" on October 24, 1984[3] and "Charles 'R' Us" on February 13, 1985.[4]
  • Rue McClanahan (from Maude & The Golden Girls) guest starred as "Irene Pembroke," the children's paternal grandmother, in "Home for the Holidays," aired on December 19, 1984, and in "Pressure from Grandma," aired on January 30, 1985.
  • Matthew Perry portrayed Lila Pembroke's mistaken date, "Ed Stanley," in the episode "The Wrong Guy".
  • Christina Applegate portrayed Lila's friend Stacy in the episodes "Slumber Party" and "Snowed In."
  • Samantha Smith portrayed Lila's friend Kim in the episode "Slumber Party".[5][6]
  • The episode "Snowed In" on February 6, 1985, had a minor role for Kathy Ireland.

Season 3[edit]

Season 4[edit]

  • For a few episodes of this season, Justin Whalin played Lillian's nephew Anthony.
  • Erika Eleniak, who played Charles' girlfriend on three episodes, later went on to star in Baywatch (1989–1992), to later be replaced by Nicole Eggert herself.[7][8]
  • Donny Most, who played Ralph Malph on Baio's other show Happy Days, made a cameo appearance in "It's a Blunderfull Life".
  • Sally Struthers who played Gloria Stivic on All in the Family guest starred as Jamie's teacher in episode "Sill at Large".

Season 5[edit]

  • Samantha Fox appeared in one episode playing a famous singer named Samantha Steele on "Paper Covers Rock".
  • Paul Walker plays an illiterate friend of Sarah Powell on "Dead Puck Society".
  • Ami Foster plays a snobbish friend of Jamie's on "Out with the In Crowd".
  • Tiffani-Amber Thiessen plays Charles' girlfriend Jennifer on "There's a Girl in My Ficus".

Theme song[edit]

The theme song was composed by David Kurtz, Michael Jacobs, and Al Burton, and performed by Shandi Sinnamon. The theme music was mellower in the first season, and was remixed for the syndication run.

Home media[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

Universal Studios Home Entertainment released a 3-disc set of the first season of Charles in Charge on DVD in North America on February 14, 2006. Due to poor sales, no further seasons were released.

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.[9] They subsequently released seasons 2-5 on DVD. Seasons 4 and 5 were Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) releases, available exclusively through[10][11]

As of 2011, the Arts Alliance releases have been discontinued and are out of print.

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


All five seasons of the series were made available for streaming through Amazon Video.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Charles in Charge - The Complete First Season DVD Review". Sitcoms Online. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Charles in Charge (TV Series) Overview". Allmovie. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  3. ^ Charles in Charge "War." IMDb.Retrieved 30 June 2007
  4. ^ Charles in Charge "Charles 'R' Us." IMDb. Retrieved 30 June 2007
  5. ^ YouTube: Samantha Smith in Charles in Charge Retrieved January 16, 2013
  6. ^ Charles in Charge: The Complete First Season (1984) DVD, Released February 14, 2006
  7. ^ accessed 6/23/2009
  8. ^ accessed 6/23/2009
  9. ^
  10. ^ Where Does the 4th Season of the Scott Baio Series Currently Stand? January 28, 2009.
  11. ^ Charles in Charge - The 5th and Final Season is Available on DVD in July! June 5, 2009
  12. ^ Amazon Video: Charles in Charge Retrieved January 23, 2013

External links[edit]