03 March 2014

TV Show Set Review: "Good Luck Charlie": Volume One

Rated: TV-G (US)
Starring: Bridgit Mendler, Jason Dolley, and Mia Talerico
Released: April 4, 2010 - August 1, 2010 (Disney Channel premieres)
NOTE: Unlike the previous TV episode sets I have reviewed on this site, this isn't on DVD; I got this set from iTunes.  Though some of the episodes are available on the Enjoy the Ride DVD release, the only way to get the series in its entirety--at this time, anyway--is to buy the seasons from Amazon Instant Video...or the volumes like this one from iTunes.

Synopsis: The Duncans are one crazy family! Mom Amy (Leigh-Allyn Baker) relishes her position as queen of the household...maybe a little too much.  Dad Bob (Eric Kramer) works long hours as an exterminator, and loves to tell stories about his job, much to everyone's chagrin.  Oldest child P. J. (Jason Dolley, Complete Savages) is a nice guy, but not exactly responsible.  Middle son Gabe (Bradley Steven Perry) just can't stay out of trouble, and is regularly upsetting their next-door neighbor, Mrs. Dabney.  The one sane one is Teddy (Bridgit Mendler, Lemonade Mouth), who starts making video diaries for her new baby sister Charlie (Mia Talerico), in order to help her deal with her insane parents and siblings.  Whether it's Teddy using Charlie as a prop for her book report, P. J. striking up a romance with the daughter of one of Bob's old girlfriends, Gabe coming home with bruises on his face from an adoring classmate (G. Hannelius, Dog With a Blog), or Amy discovering the world of texting for the first time, love, laughter, and insanity are sure to abound!

Artistic Merit

Plots: 4.5/5
Sitcoms have been around since the dawn of television, but Disney Channel does them a little bit differently than most other networks.  I'd seen a few of these episodes previously, but right many were brand new to me, yet they were all still entertaining nonetheless.  It surely kept me interested throughout, even though I already know how things end up.

Production Values: 5/5
Nothing to complain about in this department.  The acting is great; the theme music is well-done and fits the series well; the filming and sets are wonderful; all in all, amazingly done.  Then again, you knew that's to be expected, right?

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 5/5
Every episode teaches a lesson of some sort.  Teddy learns that not everyone is going to like her; Bob learns not to hold a grudge, especially against a family member; Gabe learns to tell the truth; P. J. learns not to abandon his best friend; and, the series is filled with similar moral points.

Sex: 4/5
Mild kissing, which most parents won't mind.  What is of note is one moment where Amy says that, when she and Bob first started dating, they "did a lot of..." then trails off before saying, "playing checkers." That'll sail over the heads of most little kids, but older viewers will get the allusion to...well, you know.  Elsewhere, the difference in anatomy between Charlie and a baby boy is referenced, and a relative of the Duncans moons some people.  (His rear end is covered by foam fingers, though it causes Teddy to be mortified.)

Nudity: 4.5/5
Amy's tops show some mild cleavage at times.  Charlie--a baby, remember?--is seen pulling up her shirt and baring her midriff in the show's opening credits.

Language: 4/5
"Gosh" is used a few times.  A slang word for flatulence is used twice.  When Bob can't come up with a nickname for Amy, she says to him, "That's funny, because I'm thinking of lots of nicknames for you!" (She never says them.)

Violence: 4/5
Hardly any, and what is there is slapstick.  Gabe comes home with a black eye one time, and a fat lip another time.  He and a girl get into a scuffle, which leaves both him and his big sister Teddy injured.  It's all played for laughs, though, as is the end-credits scene where baby Charlie cleans that other girl's clock.  The entire Duncan family climbs into a tree house, and ends up accidentally bringing it down; again, played for laughs.

Drugs: 5/5
None. (This is Disney Channel, people!)

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 4/5
One episode features a plotline where it is feared that the Duncans' neighbor Mrs. Dabney killed her husband.  (Spoiler: It turns out he is okay.)

Other: 3.5/5
Bodily functions--feces, vomit, flatulence, urine, etc.--are used for gags at least four or five times.  Also, when Teddy is taking care of a cat who seems to be sick, she asks a Pet-Psychic-like lady who gives mystic-like advice.  (To the show's credit, she is said to be wrong.)

Final Score: 4.5/5
Funny at times, touching at others, the adventures of the Duncans are both hilarious and heartwarming! Even if you're not much of a Disney Channel fan, you should check this show out; it's definitely a good one! Later episodes may have caused some controversy, but, you won't see any of that here.

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