CHARLES IN CHARGE (CBS 1984-85, SYN 1987-90) – Scott Baio / Willie Aames
Charles in Charge is a 1980s sitcom starring teen heartthrob Scott Baio, who had made a name for himself playing Fonzie’s younger cousin in Happy Days and its spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi. Following the end of those series, Baio was still considered a ‘hot’ item, and his ‘hunk’ status led to this purpose-built series.
Charles is an impoverished 19-year-old college student who gets a job as live-in ‘nanny’ for Stan and Jill Pembroke (Julie Cobb, James Widdoes) and their three mischievous children, 14-year-old Lila (April Lerman), 12-year-old Douglas (Jonathan Ward) and 10-year-old Jason (Michael Perlman). Charles also has a girlfriend, fellow college student Gwendolyn (Jennifer Runyon), and his best friend Buddy (Willie Aames).
CBS dropped the show after just one season. One year later, after seeing the success of some cancelled network series after they were revived for first-run syndication Universal decided to rework and relaunch Charles in Charge, so new episodes, utilizing a slightly different format, were made. The show premiered on local stations at the midway point of the 1986-87 season, with the first episode of the new series premiering on January 3, 1987.
The second season's first episode featured Charles returning to New Brunswick from his summer vacation, only to discover an unfamiliar family living in the Pembrokes' home. He learns that the Pembrokes left New Jersey while he was away and have moved across the country to Seattle. The new family, the Powells, agreed to sublet the house from the Pembrokes, which included retaining Charles's services as live-in babysitter.
The Powell clan consisted of mother Ellen (Sandra Kearns) and Grandfather Walter (James Callahan), who was Ellen's husband's widowed father and who was living with them to fulfill his son's role as he served overseas in the U.S. Navy. Like the Pembrokes, the Powells also had three children, daughters Jamie (Nicole Eggert) and Sarah (Josie Davis) and younger brother Adam (Alexander Polinsky).
John Travolta’s sister Ellen joined the new cast as Charles’ mother Lillian, an on-screen relationship they had previously explored in Joanie Loves Chachi.