Arts Alliance America // 1986 // 570 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 28th, 2008
"It's like talking to lint."
Scott Baio returns to the home video market with the third season of the greatest syndicated sitcom about a male nanny in history.
Charles (Baio) is in charge and don't you f -- -- -- forget it. A college student at nearby Copeland College, Charles struggles to balance his academic life and his personal life and his professional life. His profession? A live-in babysitter for the Powell family, made up of the lonely housewife whose husband is away at sea, the overbearing grandfather, the young, precocious son, the sensitive intellectual daughter and the borderline slutty older daughter. Then there's his best friend Buddy (Willie Aames), who continues his relentless descent into insanity
So many adventures for Charles this season. And they're hard-hitting, gritty adventures, as I'm sure you've come to expect. The "New Boy in the Neighborhood" will come face to face with such challenges as Buddy's alcoholic sister, inadvertently cheating on his Creative Writing, taking over his mother's pizza parlor for a night and watching it melt down, triple-booking one night where he has to chaperone Jamie's birthday party and speak at Sara's class and go on a date with a horny blonde, help the Powells find a way to avoid eviction, preventing Sara from dating a hooligan, enduring a degrading sorority house slave auction, assembling a stereo rack, helping Buddy through a confidence-building seminar and dating a female bodybuilder.
First off, can I just say how weird that slave auction episode was. Charles and Buddy and some other guys dressed in collars and burlap sacks are marched up onto a platform and sold by Ellen Travolta. Surreal.
Anyway, it's time for another shipment of syndicated Baio sitcom awesomeness. There's no denying that Charles in Charge is the televised equivalent of pasteurized process cheese food product. The writing is mediocre, the storylines are simplistic, the acting is bombastic, the studio audience and/or canned laughter is too excitable and Buddy Lembeck is the stuff of nightmares.
But the show as that special type of voodoo that makes it compulsively watchable. Its quality is objectively and demonstrably sub-par, but damn it all if I couldn't stop watching it -- back when it was on the air and now, recycled and regurgitated on DVD. Why? No clue. Maybe it's me. Perhaps everyone else on the planet is able to see past Charles's diabolical sorcery, and I'm the only one who has succumbed to his spell? It's the Saved by the Bell mystique all over again -- ridiculously corny crap boiled down to 22 minute episodes that is as addicting as heroin.
The third season of Charles in Charge keeps the same formula established in the prior season. As he catches up on his college work and plays the field looking for the next eligible sorority sister, Charles is constantly challenged with conflicts at the Poweel residence. This is the spark that gets the comedy rolling, and that that comedy is usually Charles running around crazy with Buddy in tow spouting off incoherent one-liners. The playbook is repetitive, mixed up mainly through the degrees of the problems and the different characters that said problems happen to. But Charles's manic reactions and Buddy's inanity are the common threads. And if I were forced to come up with a reason why the show is so weirdly compelling it's because Baio and Aames, as goofy as they are, have chemistry and their combined energy propels the mediocrity forward.
Three discs with 24 episodes, transferred in full frame and 2.0 stereo, looking and sounding passable and bringing no extras to the party.
The discs are bare, leaving Charles solely in charge of making this purchase worth it.
Yeah, I'll say it. Not guilty. Sue me.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Arts Alliance America
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 570 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* DVD Verdict Review - Season 1
* DVD Verdict Review - Season 2