Charles in Charge

Charles in Charge is an American sitcom series which starred Scott Baio as Charles, a 19-year-old student at the fictional Copeland College in New Jersey,[1] who worked as a live-in babysitter in exchange for room and board.[2] Baio directed many episodes of the show, and was credited with his full name, Scott Vincent Baio.

It was first broadcast on CBS from October 3, 1984 to April 3, 1985, when it was cancelled due to a struggle in the Nielsen ratings. It then had a more successful first-run syndication run from January 3, 1987 to November 10, 1990. 126 original episodes were aired in total. The show was produced by Al Burton Productions and Scholastic Productions in association with Universal Television.


Charles first worked for the Pembroke family: wife Jill, husband Stan, and their three children: Lila, Douglas, and Jason.

When the show ended its run on CBS, and entered first-run syndication in 1987, the story explained that the Pembrokes sub-leased their house and moved to Seattle, and the Powells moved in instead, thereby allowing Charles to live downstairs yet again. This time, the family consisted of grandfather Walter, mother Ellen (whose husband was in the Navy and consequently could only visit his family sporadically), and her three children: Jamie, Sarah, and Adam.


Actor 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
Justin Whalin Anthony
Ellen Travolta Lillian

In the final two seasons, Sandra Kerns only made three more appearances (once in Season Four and twice in Season Five).

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.

Guest castEdit

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

Season 1Edit

  • In the pilot, one of the family's sons refers to Charles's prospective date as a "carbon unit".
  • 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 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".
  • Will Shannon was portrayed as Charles' crazy neighbor "Chris Garrett" in the episode "Jill's Decision".
  • Christina Applegate portrayed Lila's friend Stacy in the episodes "Slumber Party" and "Snowed In."
  • The episode "Snowed In" on February 6, 1985, had a minor role for Kathy Ireland.

Season 3Edit

Season 4Edit

  • 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).[5][6]
  • Donny Most, who played Ralph on Happy Days, made a cameo appearance in "It's a Blunderfull Life".
  • Sally Struthers who played Gloria on All in the Family guest starred as Jamie's teacher in episode "Sill at Large".

Season 5Edit

  • 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 songEdit

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.

References in pop cultureEdit

Relient K covered the Charles in Charge theme song and wrote additional lyrics about the show on their album Relient K.[7]

Rapper Heavy D mentions Charles in Charge in a lyric to his song "Is It Good to You".

On the Scrubs episode "My Nightingale", Ted's band sings the Charles in Charge theme song. In addition in the episode "Our True Lies", Lucy Bennett's ringtone plays the Charles in Charge theme song.[8]

The Bloodhound Gang performed a parody in which Jimmy Pop sings the Charles in Charge theme song in an Axl Rose voice on "Shitty Record Offer" from their 1995 album Use Your Fingers.

On Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the host performed the Charles in Charge theme song as Bob Dylan.[9]

On the Season 20 episode of The Simpsons, "Father Knows Worst", there is a reference to the cooks in the Springfield Elementary cafeteria being retired TV comedy writers, with one of the cooks explaining the basic premise of Charles in Charge to the other cooks, all retired TV comedy writers.

The theme song from Charles in Charge was covered by Electric Hellfire Club with a Goth and Industrial beat and style from the two cd set of 36 TV show opening tunes as cover songs by Gothic and Industrial bands. The CD titled TV Terror: Felching a Dead Horse was released in September 1997.[10]

In the Season 9 Family Guy episode "New Kidney in Town", Peter while deciding to go to The Drunken Clam with Quagmire and Joe, is reluctant to go to his scheduled dialysis appointment, in order to watch 'Charles in Charge. Also in the Season 9 episode Road to the North Pole, while sitting on Santa's lap states he "wants a Charles in Charge lunchbox.[11]

Hip-Hop artist Kid Cudi references Charles in Charge in a lyric to his song "Soundtrack To My Life".

DVD releasesEdit

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, Universal licensed the rights to release the remaining four seasons to Arts Alliance America (which has since changed its name to Virgil Films & Entertainment) during the summer of 2007. Seasons four and five are not generally available, but were both released in mid-2009 as Amazon exclusives. Soon after the release of season 5, Amazon placed a note on the season 4 and 5 product pages indicating the items could not be shipped internationally.[12][13][14][15]

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 Season 26 July 28, 2009


  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. ^ accessed 6/23/2009
  6. ^ accessed 6/23/2009
  7. ^ "Even Bigger Than Relient K". Relevant Magazine. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  8. ^ Julian Hall. "Scrubs' band The Blanks head to Shepherd's Bush Empire for one-off a cappella show". Independent. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  9. ^ Whitney Matheson (March 18, 2011). "The 'Charles in Charge' theme, Dylan-style". Usa Today. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  10. ^ "Kiss the Goat - The Electric Hellfire Club". Metal Archives. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
  11. ^ Moyna, Ciara (2011-01-11). "Family Guy "New Kidney In Town" Review". Daemon's TV. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  12. ^ Where Does the 4th Season of the Scott Baio Series Currently Stand? January 28, 2009.
  13. ^ Charles in Charge Season 4 March 7, 2009.
  14. ^ Charles in Charge Season 5 June 5, 2009
  15. ^ Charles in Charge - The 5th and Final Season is Available on DVD in July! June 5, 2009

External linksEdit

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