Cast: Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber, Michael Campion, Elias Harger, John Stamos, Dave Coulier, Bob Saget, Lori Loughlin
“Whatever happened to predictability, erectile ” was the opening line in the Full House theme song and it’s one that captured the essence of the show’s reliably family-friendly content. The original show — which aired from 1987-1995 — was a charming and kind-hearted sitcom with a squeaky clean image that mirrored the squeaky-clean lifestyle of Danny Tanner (Bob Saget), the show’s pivotal main character. It’s been more than two decades since the sitcom went off the air but thankfully for its fans, Fuller House, the new Netflix spin-off, delivers the same brand of humor and heart.
Fuller House continues the story of the Tanner family. Danny’s oldest daughter D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure), a teenager at the end of Full House’s run, is now D.J. Tanner-Fuller — a recent widow with three boys of her own. Her situation — which clearly mirrors that of her father in the original show — serves as the main focus of the new program. Here, though, the people moving in to help her are her sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and her childhood best friend Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), two of the original show’s stars.
The sitcom delivers on the promise of the original with nostalgia-drenched moments and an obvious sentimental affection for family. In other words, fans of the original show will be pleased.
The show’s pilot features most of the original cast back temporarily in the old Tanner home. Danny and his television co-host (Becky Katsopolis) are moving— alongside Becky’s husband Jesse (John Stamos) —away from San Francisco. Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier), who alongside Jesse helped raise Danny’s three daughter, is now based in Vegas. It looks like the old Tanner home might be sold but when Danny realizes D.J.’s precarious position, he allows her to move into his old house with her three sons.
Along for the ride are the free-spirited Stephanie and Kimmy, a single mother raising her daughter Ramona (Soni Bringas).
As the show moves forward, the plots surround the adventures of D.J., Stephanie and Kimmy. The plots are oftentimes predictable but they are bursting with the heart and values that were so prominent in the original. Interestingly enough, the new show also has good fun peppering some of the episodes with references to today’s technology.
“I’ll tag you on Instagram but first I’ll have to unblock you,” Stephanie tells Kimmy during a night out.
Unlike the original program, the show also has a self-awareness that will play well with the millennials who grew up watching Full House. In the first episode and later in the program, there are sarcastic references to the fact that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen— who played Michelle Tanner on
Full House — declined to appear in this reboot. There’s also a great one-liner in an early episode from Stephanie about the fact that Michelle was played by two actresses (“I changed so many diapers I felt like there were two of them,” Stephanie says).
The original show was never cutting-edge. It didn’t want to be. It was an idealistic and uplifting sitcom about a family growing up together and so too is this reboot/spin-off series. It helps that the returning actors seem genuinely happy to be back in familiar territory. Cameron Bure and Sweetin are especially appealing as the two sisters and even in the midst of a laugh-filled show, Sweetin shows great vulnerability here and shows her emotional range in a dramatic early episode.
It also helps that D.J.’s two older children (her youngest son is a still a baby so he gets very limited screen time) are both charming and likable. Michael Campion and Elias Harger are worthy additions to the Full House family as Jackson and Max Fuller.
The show may be predictable but it’s also a lot of fun. I was a fan of Full House in the 80s and 90s and I’m happy to see that Fuller House offers a nice tribute to the original show while also finding its own unique voice.
Review by: John Hanlon