There's really only one singing, dancing, pratfalling part of Hollywood where the old studio system is still alive and well: the Mouse House. Nobody excels at cranking out formulaic, tween-centric sitcoms and grooming bright-faced stars quite like Disney does.
Case in point: Good Luck Charlie.
There's nothing new to see here. And that's exactly the point. The Duncans are merely the latest small-screen example of your standard-issue sitcom family. Mom (Amy) is exhausted but still wearily smiling. Dad (Bob) is a lovable bumbler. Younger brother Gabe is a raised-eyebrow wisecracker. And Disney sitcom vets Bridgit Mendler (The Wizards of Waverly Place) and Jason Dolley (Corey in the House) round things out as spunky sister Teddy and slowish brother PJ (respectively).
Oh, and then there's Charlie, of course. She's new, I guess. She has to be. She's too young not to be. The show started when she was just an infant. Three seasons in, she's well into toddlerdom and in sight of preschool. And she's not even (really) the youngest in the family anymore. Mom, you see, is pregnant again. So the dirty diaper jokes and outlandish baby-centered hijinks have diminished a bit—but probably only for a moment or two.
Every episode involves Teddy recording a video diary entry designed to guide her baby sister when she gets older. Teddy usually abandons the camera pretty quickly, though, since she's a little too obsessed with boys and getting kissed to stay completely focused on Charlie! And the producers have to make time for random silliness, too, as Mom and Dad fumble about cluelessly … and sometimes carelessly. The accompanying (slightly out of key) soundtrack, if you will, is composed of a smattering of mild gross-out jokes, even milder double entendres and bits of slapstick violence.
But hey, it's a Disney sitcom, right? Which means the Duncans will always gather together in the kitchen and bat around goofy one-liners and the kids will always have a chance to process a light-but-important life lesson right before the credits roll.
"Catch Me If You Can"
Teddy and boyfriend Spencer lie to Mom about their whereabouts on date nights: Turns out, the two are in a musical and reluctant to fess up because Amy tends to get a little too involved in such things. Amy admits that she does love the spotlight, "but in fairness, not as much as the spotlight loves me." Teddy and Amy have words about Teddy's deception, with Mom asking, "When did you stop loving me?" But no real punishments are doled out as the two eventually apologize and make up.
Bob, meanwhile, hunts for an on-the-loose anaconda—in part to impress son Gabe. It doesn't really work, though, since he can't help but run away scared at one point. Gabe, for his part, confesses that he'd rather Dad be a "live coward than a dead hero."
Bob jokes about someone needing to change his diaper. Teddy stage-whispers to PJ, "I didn't think we'd have to worry about this for years!"
"A L.A.R.P. in the Park"
Teddy has a date with a "totally hot" swimmer named Evan. (Amy understands her interest when Teddy shows her a picture of him in a bathing suit.) Turns out, though, this dreamboat is a nerd who plays Pokéo, a Pokémon-like card game that Gabe likes too. Gabe teaches Teddy the game, and she pretends to enjoy it in order to get closer to Evan. After she joins him in a Pokéo "live-action role-play" in the park, though, she decides that Evan and his friends are too silly for her. She tells Charlie in a video log, "Don't pretend to be someone you're not just to impress a guy."
Amy fakes an eye injury and blackmails a doctor in order to stay hospitalized overnight to get some peace and quiet. While making a public speech, Bob jokes about heavy drinking. Later he tries to re-record the speech to lie to Amy and films himself thanking her in it, something he hadn't done before. PJ serves as the cameraman, and Bob says to Charlie, "Let's help Daddy deceive Mommy."
Amy does Gabe's homework. Teddy lies about damaging Gabe's Pokéo cards. PJ mocks Bob's career.
"Baby Come Back"
Overworked, sleep-deprived Mom and Dad wander around with dazed looks on their faces and baby talk on their tongues. Weary of her parents' incessant discussion of "oogly-googlies" and "poopy-woopies," Teddy suggests that they go on a date. So off Mom and Dad go for some fun. "But not too much fun," Teddy cautions. "We have enough kids already."
In their absence, PJ loses Charlie during a stroller mix-up. (He was flirting with a girl pushing an identical stroller, and the two get switched). Panic ensues, as does madcap pursuit of the girl who unintentionally "babynapped" Charlie. The kids manage to make things right without, they think, Mom and Dad being any the wiser. But it's hard to fool Mom, and the kids learn a lesson about the futility of trying to "put one over" on her.
Along the way, Gabe practices a magic act that involves smashing dishes at home (accidentally) and at a restaurant (on purpose). A fat man in a superhero outfit demands money from the kids. Toilet humor includes visual evidence of a baby peeing and the exclamations of "do-do," "baby parts" and "butt."