HelleVision Day 13: Charles in Charge, “Trick or Treat” (1984)

New boy in the neighborhood. Lives downstairs and it’s understood. He’s there just to take good care of me, like he’s one of the family.

Growing up, I enjoyed Happy Days. It wasn’t until years later, into my college years and later, that I grew to love the show. When I first got a DVR, searching for Happy Days reruns to record was the greatest. I was eight years old when Happy Days aired it’s final episode in September 1984. Wait, final episode in September? Well, as it turns out, the show’s finale episode aired in May of 1984, but there were some un-aired shows that the network burned off in the summer and finally ending on September 27, 1984. The last time you would see Scott Baio as Charles “Chachi” Arcola.

One week later, Charles in Charge premiered.

Literally, one week people were seeing Scott Baio as Chachi – whose real name happened to be Charles – and the next week he was showing up as a college kid who was live-in help to a family. Today’s HelleVision looks at the 8th episode of the first season of Charles in Charge, Trick or Treat.

It’s Halloween night in the Pembroke house. Youngest son Jason is worried about what costume to wear. Sister Lila is…also worried about what costume to wear. Oldest son Douglas wants to figure out women. Idiot best friend Buddy accidentally does figure out a woman, and is scared that he did.

Young Jason’s first thought is to go as a Ghostbuster, but his mom found out that just meant he wanted to beat up kids dressed as kids. She ends up dressing him as a little Charles clone, which is cute for the people watching at home, but for the neighbors he just looks like a preppy kid. When someone asks him, “who are you dressed as?” does he answer, “The college boy living with our family?” and wouldn’t that immediately alert someone to call the police? This is never addressed, and the boy ends up with candy – and the biggest laugh of the show for a trick he plays around the dinner table.

Lila wants a costume that will really make her stand out at party she’s going to. How these kids wait until Halloween day is beyond irresponsible. I assumed she want to go as a sexy “fill in the blank” because I figured that’s what every teenage girl wants to be dressed as. But this is 1984, and family entertainment, and Lila is a good girl, so ehe ends up enlisting Douglas to help her make a cool costume. His only fee? That Charles help him understand women better – someday.

But, that someday turns out to be today as his costume is a washer/dryer that he and Lila can wear together at the party, where he goes to observe women as if he is new to our planet.

Again, Lila is a good girl because what teenage girl in the world would want to share a costume with her younger, nerdy brother AND bring him along to the party?

All those stories are secondary to the main story, the one that literally has nothing to do with Halloween. Buddy talked to some great, beautiful, smart girl who agreed to go on a date with him and now he’s scared. He’s scared because the girl is great, beautiful, and smart – what in the hell is she doing going on a date with Buddy? The stars all just aligned for him when they met. His voice sounded just right, he said just the right thing, the light him in just the right way. Basically, he someone faked her out.

So now he needs Charles to go in and find out more about the girl to see if it’s safe for Buddy, the real Buddy, to go actually go through with the date. In the end Charles says there is no way that this girl would or should be interested int he real Buddy and that he should avoid the date – BUT – this is Halloween, where strangers open the door, and without knowing anything about you – give you candy.

So basically he’s saying, look Buddy there’s a great chance you’re going to get laid here, so just go for it. That sounds more like Scott Baio advice than advice from Charles. But of course Buddy takes it as the episode ends.

I enjoyed this episode and laughed out loud at one spot. I used to love this show when it was on everyday in reruns, so I am glad I went back to watch this one again.

Watching this episode it makes you feel bad for the actors in this family. After one season, CBS decided to cancel Charles in Charge. That’s too bad for all the actors involved. Well at least they were able to make and get paid for 22 episodes of television, not a lot of actors even get that chance.

Wait, what’s that you say? They’ve decided to bring the show back in first-run syndication? That’s great news! Oh wait, they’re only bringing back Buddy and Charles? And they’re replacing the entire family? They didn’t just start fresh and forget the first season, but instead said the Pembrokes were moving and a new family, the Powells, were moving in. They brought back the youngest Pembroke son and RECAST the Pembroke mother for that one episode – and then the Pembrokes were never heard from again.

And for some reason, the Powells just kept Charles and he kept on being in Charge.

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