Technology is a wonderful thing, isn't it? There was a time, not all that long ago, when we were at the mercy of television producers and progammers. They told us what we were allowed to see, and when we were allowed to see it. With the explosion of cable channels, however, and the creation of syndication, it became easier to find the type of show you wanted to see, at a time more convenient for you - just ask any Law and Order fan. Now broadcast and even cable television have been made almost irrelevant. With the growing use of the DVD in recent years, we have seen the popularization of television series box sets; something which had been tried before with VHS tapes, but has only really become practical with a medium marked by a thin design and capable of massive data storage.
As our store shelves become cluttered with these relatively bulky season sets, however, we have to ask ourselves if it is really neccessary that the entirety of TV history should be made available to consumers. It takes less than a year now for seasons of current television shows - even reality TV and game shows - to be released into a cute little purchaseable form. At the same time, countless long-since cancelled programs are reappearing in the homes of those who crave a little nostalgia. It seems like we need to sit back, take stock of our situation, and ask, "Wait, how many of these shows were really all that great in the first place?"
Take, for example, The Complete First Season set of Charles in Charge, relased last month by MCA Home Video. For those of you who may not remember, Charles in Charge was the '80s sitcom starring those wacky Zapped! costars, Scott Baio (Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi) and Willie Aames (Bible Man). The show centered around our loveable college-aged title character (Baio), who had decided to take up residence with the happy suburban Pembroke family and pay his way through school by looking after - and, of course, providing his wisdom and guidance to - their three children. None of this is, naturally, explained in the pilot, which simply thrusts the audience into its somewhat absurd and far-fetched scenario, and instead focuses on establishing the relationship between our hero and the lovely (if not a tad bit reputable) Gwendolyn Pierce (Jennifer Runyan, The In Crowd, Quantum Leap). After a few episodes, however, the alledged romance between these two seems to completely vanish, and Pierce seems to become just one of Charles' buddies, alongside the wise-cracking, womanizing Buddy Lembeck (Aames). Perhaps this is the writers' way of drawing attention to the psychological issues of the lead: highlighting his ultimate decision to go off with the children, rather than face the pressures and responsibilities of the adult world and adult relationships, at every chance. More likely, however, is the possibility that they just forgot they had established this love affair. Oh well.