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Charles in Charge - The Complete First Season



DVD Release Date: February 14, 2006 (Universal Home Video)
MSRP: $34.98
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 546 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: approx. 52 minutes (counting bonus episode)
Audio: English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French; Closed Captioned.
Special Features: “The Great ‘80s TV Flashback” and Season 2 Bonus Preview Episode “Amityville”


New boy in the neighborhood. Lives downstairs and it is understood. He’s there just to take good care of me, Like he’s one of the family. Charles in Charge of our days and now on DVD! Yes, Charles in Charge is now on DVD for the first time with the complete first season. See this rare season with Charles living with his first family—the Pembrokes! The Powell family didn’t move in until season 2 and they lasted the rest of the series, but the Pembrokes also had a great fan following. See Charles be in charge of the Pembroke kids—Lila, Douglas and Jason. The parents of the kids (Stan and Jill) are also popping in and out along with Charles’s best friend Buddy (who is very wacky) and his beautiful girlfriend Gwendolyn Pierce. So join the fun with Charles and the rest of the gang at Copeland College and New Brunswick, NJ for some fun on the complete first season of Charles in Charge!

Charles in Charge season one stars Scott Baio (Charles), Julie Cobb (Jill Pembroke), James Widdoes (Stan Pembroke), Willie Aames (Buddy Lembeck), Jennifer Runyon (Gwendolyn Pierce), April Lerman (Lila Pembroke), Jonathan Ward (Douglas Pembroke) and Michael Pearlman (Jason Pembroke).

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Some memorable episodes include “Pilot” in which the fun all begins with his new job and possibly with his new girlfriend; “Cousin Elliot” is the one where the kids’ fun but trouble making cousin comes for a visit; “Slumber Party” is the one where Lila invites her friends to a overnight sleepover; “A Date with Enid” is the one where Lila’s friend has a crush on Douglas; “Home for the Holidays” has Stan’s mother coming to town and Charles leaving for his hometown for the holidays but something comes up; “Pressure from Grandma” has Stan’s mom returning and planning a scheme to get rid of Charles as she pressures him to go into the pizza business by selling pizzas at Rutgers University; “Charles’ Spring Break” in Florida doesn’t go as planned; and “Mr. Brilliant” in which Jill’s old friend is in town but he is very rude.

There are tons of before they were stars guests this season. Some include Meg Ryan as Megan Harper in episodes “War” & “Charles “R” Us”; Christina Applegate as Stacy (“Slumber Party” & “Snowed In”); Kathy Ireland (“Snowed In”); and Matthew Perry as Ed Stanley (“The Wrong Guy”). Regular special guests include Rue McClanahan as Grandma Irene Pembroke (“Home for the Holidays” & “Pressure from Grandma”); Julianne McNamara as Paula Thackery (“Extracurricular Activity” & “Slumber Party”); Jerry Levine as Cousin Elliot Pembroke (“Cousin Elliot” & “Mr. President”); and Dick O’Neill as Grandpa Harry (“Meet Grandpa”).


The packaging is an outer box with three slim cases. It is very well put and designed. The color scheme is light blue and purple. A nice photo of Charles is on the box along with a scrapbook type photo of the cast of season one. On the back of the box we see another nice photo of Charles along with synopsis of the series and the set. Underneath that, we see two small snapshots of Charles & Buddy and Charles with the three kids. The special features box is below that. The cases have the same cover as the box, but the scrapbook image is different on each. Case one has Charles with the kids; case two has Charles and Mr. & Mrs. Pembroke; and case three has Buddy and the kids. The back of each case has episode info for each case. The episode title and a synopsis of the episode are given. Purple is the color.

When we open each case, we get to the discs. Inside case one there is an insert for other Universal TV DVD products such as Gimme a Break! Each disc has the same photo of Charles from the boz cover. Disc one holds episodes 1-8, disc two holds episodes 9-16, disc three holds episodes 17-22 and the featurette and bonus episode from season two.

Menu Design and Navigation:

Charles in Charge DVD Menu

The menu screen is well designed and is very similar to the packaging. The main menu screen has the same photo of Charles as the box art and disc art, and the scrapbook photo of the cast from the box is also on the menu screen. For disc one, before the menu screen, we get previews from other Universal products: The A-Team, Knight Rider & Magnum, P.I. Season 3’s; Kate & Allie, Charles in Charge and Gimme a Break Season 1’s; and seaQuest DSV Season 1. Then we get to the main menu screen where the season one theme is playing in the background. For those of you wondering, yes, it does loop. The options are: Play All, Episode Index, Languages, Bonus, Sneak Peeks. Sneak Peeks is only on disc one. Sneak Peeks of Northern Exposure; Revelations; Cleopatra 2525, Earth 2; Sliders; American Gothic; The Munsters; Kolchak: The Night Stalker; Battlestar Galactica Season 1; Battlestar Galactica Season 20; Law & Order; Leave it to Beaver; and Miami Vice. Episode Index screen has the episodes listed with titles and a screenshot from the episode. Options are: Play All, Menu, Episode Index. The Episode Index just shows you the list of episodes on the disc; I find it strange to have this. When you select an episode, you get to the episode summary menu. It has the episode title, long summary of the episode, a photo from the episode, along with the options of Play, Languages, Episode Index, Bonus, Menu. The Bonus menu only works on disc three, but is present on each disc. Languages menu has spoken language of English and subtitles in English SDH, Spanish and French. For some reason the episodes do NOT have chapter stops. No scene selection menus either. That is not good.

Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio are both excellent. The series has never looked and sounded better. I found no flaws in either. The episodes are all unedited at around 24:30, give or take a few seconds. Though, the Halloween episode was at 23:48, but that episode probably just ran shorter than the other episodes. No need to worry. I found no problems whatsoever in this department. The bonus episode ran 22:28, but remember the show entered into first-run syndication by season two, so that is a normal run time. Chapter stops is the only real issue for this area. I don’t understand why they didn’t add chapter stops. They do it for all their 80s dramas. At least we don’t get the Universal logo before every episode like some other sets (Knight Rider S3 for example).

Special Features:

Charles in Charge DVD Menu

The special features are decent enough. They gave us a featurette on “The Great ‘80s TV Flashback.” It run 29:01 and it is very interesting. The featurette talks about all of the Universal ‘80s TV series on DVD (example: A-Team) or are coming soon to DVD (Simon & Simon). The shows featured are: Miami Vice, Magnum P.I., The A-Team, Knight Rider, Simon & Simon, Murder She Wrote, Quantum Leap, Gimme a Break, Charles in Charge and Kate & Allie. Interviewed are: Ray Richmond (Writer, The Hollywood Reporter), Alex Ben Block (Columnist, TV Week), Robert Ward (co-executive producer, Miami Vice), Stephen J. Cannell (executive producer, A-Team), Debbie Matenopolous (Host of “The Screening Room,” TV Guide), Julie Cobb (Charles in Charge), Glen Larson (executive producer, Knight Rider), David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider), Jack Gill (stunt coordinator, Knight Rider), and Lara Jill Miller (Gimme a Break!). It is nice to see Jill Pembroke (actress Julie Cobb) herself being interviewed! Maybe next time they can have a featurette just on Charles in Charge?

Up next is a preview episode from season two. The series turns a different direction, as Charles now takes care of the Powell family, as the Pembrokes move to Seattle. See Nicole Eggert and the other new cast in the season two premiere “Amityville” running 22:28. The Powell family was always more popular and I also prefer those seasons, but I like the Pembrokes, too!

Final Comments:

I thought I’d never see this show on DVD. Thanks to Universal for such a wonderful set. I hope we get season two this summer at the latest. And maybe season three by Christmas? Are you listening Universal? I want the series to be released at a fast pace. This is one of my favorite sitcoms, so I’m very happy to have this show on DVD. My only gripe was the omission of chapter stops. I think all DVDs should have this. It is very useful to have—especially when you want to look for a particular scene. The bonus material was good. I liked the ‘80s TV featurette. It is pretty good. But I don’t think they mentioned the Pembrokes vs. the Powells. That is like the main Charles in Charge debate. Well, if you like the Pembrokes or the Powells, I think you should buy all seasons of this show on DVD to support it. The episodes are very good and Universal has done a decent job. So, come this Valentine’s Day, buy this set for yourself and a special someone!

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 02/09/06

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