Charles in Charge
Synopsis of TV Show
"Charles in charge of our day and our nights,
Charles in charge of our wrongs and our rights...
I want Charles in charge of me!"
Who wouldn’t want the hunky yet sensitive Scott Baio, fresh off the set of Happy Days, to be their nanny? To the Pembrokes, it was a dream come true. To viewers of this TV hit, it was a dream to beg, steal or kill for (well, maybe that's a bit extreme, but don't underestimate the devotion of true Baio-holics).
In exchange for room and board while attending college, Charles (Baio) was entrusted with the care of fourteen-year-old Lila, twelve-year-old Douglas and ten-year-old Jason. While their busy parents Jill and Stan were out working, the three kids provided Charles with plenty of challenges.
In addition to the inherent problems of teenagehood, each kid faced unique problems: Lila was boy-crazy but somewhat awkward, Douglas was a nerdy sci-fi geek, and Jason, who was the most socially comfortable, suffered the indignities of being the youngest. Suddenly, the nineteen-year-old Charles, acting as surrogate mother and father, had to provide answers for problems that he had only encountered a few years before.
Further complicating poor Chuckie's life was his manic best friend Buddy Lembeck and the girl of his (Charles', that is) dreams, Gwendolyn Pierce, who always seemed to be just out of reach. The core of the show was Charles’ attempts at balancing all the aspects of his unusually complicated life.
Despite the genuine humor and pathos of Charles in Charge, CBS cancelled the show. But before some network genius could come up with Charles Loves Buddy, in 1987 the gods of first-run syndication stepped in to save the domestic sitcom, producing new episodes of Charles' household adventures.
By this time, though, the Pembrokes had sold their house to the Powells. “There’s three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, and oh, a male college student who loves taking care of children.” And so, Charles stayed on to take care of fourteen-year-old Jaime, thirteen-year-old Sarah and twelve-year-old Adam while their father was at sea and their mother, Ellen, worked. The structure of the show was very similar to the CBS version, with Charles settling fights between the kids and regularly questioning what went on in Buddy’s brain.
With the Powell kids, trouble often arose between teen queen Jaime, bookworm Sarah and their pestering kid brother Adam. There was, however, one further complication in the form of the kids’ grandpa, retired Navy man Walter Powell. In Mr. Powell, Charles had the closest thing to an enemy. Both had the best interests of the children at heart but often clashed on each other’s approach.
Charles also got a mom, Lillian, who loved nothing more than to meddle in her son's life. Lillian bought the gang’s favorite pizza joint, Sid’s, and eventually turned it into a 50’s diner called The Yesterday Cafe (how very Happy Days). Also on board for a short time was Lillian’s nephew, Anthony, who stayed with her.
But some things never change, and while Gwendolyn was no longer around, there were plenty of pretty co-eds (Meg Ryan among them) whose dates with Charles were ruined because of the kids. For a short time though, Charles found true love with Stephanie Curtis.
In the last episode, Charles was accepted to graduate school at Princeton. After taking care of everyone else, at last Charles was in charge of his own life.
Release History of Prime Time Show10/3/84 - 4/27/85 CBS
6/5/85 - 7/24/85 CBS
TV Sub Categoriescomedy
Television NetworkCBS, syndicated
Television StudioUniversal TV
TV CastCharles Scott Baio
Buddy Lembeck Willie Aames
Gwendolyn Pierce (1984-85) Jennifer Runyon
Douglas Pembroke (1984-85) Jonathan Ward
Jill Pembroke (1984-85) Julie Cobb
Lila Pembroke (1984-85) April Lerman
Jason Pembroke (1984-85) Michael Pearlman
Jamie Powell (1987-90) Nicole Eggert
Charles' mother Lillian (1987-90) Ellen Travolta
Sara Powell (1987-90) Josie Davis
Adam Powell (1987-90) Alexander Polinsky
Ellen Powell (1987-90) Sandra Kerns
Walter Powell (1987-90) James T. Callahan
Anthony (1988) Justin Whalin
Stephanie Curtis (1988-89) Erika Eleniak