I have to write an open letter to those who are (deep breath) fans of teen idol used-to-bes Scott Baio and Willie Aames. What the hell is wrong with you people? Did the online petition have THAT many signatures that it had to be recognized and acted upon? Did you really need to have the theme song to Charles in Charge on DVD? I admit, it’s a little bit catchy, but if you watch all 22 episodes in one setting, you need to up your lithium dosage. I know and understand that Universal is catering…to the VH-1 “I Love the ‘80s” crowd by releasing shows like this onto disc, but let’s exercise some sort of restraint, huh?
For those of you who don’t know the show, Charles (Baio) is a male nanny (or “live-in helper” according to the press material) that lives in a household of a bunch of kids. He has a friend named Buddy (creatively named and played by Aames) who helps him from time to time with the kids. He helps the kids learn and grow and try new things while the parents go on three day coke binges or something. I dunno, when you can hire Scott Baio for domestic help, it seems like the joke writes itself there, don’t you think? And with regular sitcom formula in tow, Charles tries to help raise the kids while at the same time, living his life like a former heartthrob should. It’s not to say that this show is completely hopeless, if you look real close, you can spot Meg Ryan and Matthew Perry in surprising “I saw them when” moments that are kinda cool, but their charm wanes a bit, and you’re left wondering how much of the cast of this show has done jail time and/or hardcore pornography.
Like other TV seasons that Universal owns the video rights to, the 22 episodes of the quintessential first season of Charles in Charge come on three discs, with 4 episodes on each side of the disc, with three on the last side of disc 3, along with the special features, making for interesting, if not nostalgic, viewing.
Well, even in the ‘80s, things were recorded in mono sound to illustrate the shallowness of a decade that focused more on style than it did substance. Or perhaps they didn’t have the budget to record in stereo. Whatever the reason, the mono sound is there and sounds OK. You’ll can listen to Baio rub brain cells together with sonic clarity.
Full frame video, nothing more, nothing less. It’s like you can almost sense that Scott Baio was making out with a production assistant during these tapings as they occurred, it’s kinda cool. Aside from that cheesy little comment, everything looks pretty clear without complaints, mosquito noise, edge enhancement, etc.
What, no cast and crew commentary? No “An Evening with Scott Baio” reminiscing featurette? Willie Aames didn’t deliver this to me? Well, aside from the lack of enticing extra material, there’s a “bonus” episode from Season Two, which will probably come out soon (if it’s not already out there). But for true aficionados of the show, that’s where things where the best, when Charles started to take care of the Powell family, with a mother played by Joanna Kerns’ sister I’m guessing, and a very young Nicole Eggert (from the salad days of Baywatch). There’s also a featurette titled “The Great ‘80s TV Flashback” that appears to be not much more than a cavalcade of shows that Universal has rolled or about to roll out on DVD soon, including Quantum Leap, Gimme a Break and Simon and Simon, and some critics (along with some producers like Stephen J. Cannell and Glen Larson) discuss the ‘80s shows and retroactively appreciate them all. It’s actually not as bad as you’d think, and worth the time to view it.
For fans of the show, this season means that more will be coming, so it’s nice to see the show appear on video, so that better seasons can be released later. The ‘80s featurette isn’t too bad, but it’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before, so if you’re a fan of the show, wait for the Eggert seasons to fully appreciate and recognize the power and charisma of Baio and Aames.
Special Features List
- Bonus Episode
- ’80s Television Flashback Featurette