Yeah…I finished it already…guess you could tell how my weekend was! You should know that the first part of this review is fairly spoiler-free. So if you haven’t started or haven’t yet finished watching the series, you’re safe to read on until I tell you so. I’ll let you know when the spoiler-y stuff kicks in!
If you’re like me and you popped out of a lady in the early 80’s, chances are you spent at least half an hour a week in the Tanner household. I sure did. I also frequented the halls of Bayside High, spent a lot of time in the Peach Pit and thought it was cool to yell to cab drivers, “Yo homes, to Bel-Air!” And if you’re around my age (give or take some years on either end), you likely feel a certain warm fuzzy for the nineties. The entertainment business knows this and has decided to cash in – likely giving out a Will Smith-esque, “CHING CHING!” in the process. And while I’m well aware of the hive mind mentality of movie and television studios cashing in on nineties nostalgia, I still seem to willingly go along for the ride.
The latest nostalgia-bait project is Netflix’s revival of the Full House series with its spin-off, Fuller House. This time, instead of following the antics of three men living together raising three girls, the show follows the antics of the eldest daughter, D.J. Tanner-Fuller (hence the new title “Fuller House”…not just a grammatically-terrifying use of the adjective for the sake of an updated show name). D.J. is fully grown and recently widowed, raising three boys in the same house she grew up in with the help of her sister, Stephanie, and best friend, Kimmy. Essentially, D.J. (the mother figure) takes over the role of Danny Tanner (who seems to have gotten super nasally in his advanced age), Stephanie (the cool aunt) takes over the role of Uncle Jesse and Kimmy (the goof ball friend) takes over the role of Joey.
Let’s get to the gist of this write-up: IS THE SHOW WORTH MY TIME??
Well, that depends on who’s asking. Were you into Full House back in the day? If the answer is “pfft, no that show sucked!”, my answer to you would be “then why the heck did you even click on this review? Go watch Cooked, then!” If the answer is “yes”, then my answer to you is “yes”. In all its corniness, the show manages to capture everything we may have liked about the original series. Coupled with the somewhat-expected cringy moments are some genuine laughs. And there are even a number of well-acted scenes to go along with moments where it was blatantly obvious some of them haven’t been in front of a camera for several years. When it comes to Full House fans likely/inevitably checking out Fuller House, the term “Binge and Cringe” will start to become a common saying.
And that’s the spoiler-free portion of my review of the show.
Now, if you’ve watched the show, go ahead and read on! If you haven’t, well…maybe it’s time to click away. [Here…lemme make it easier for you.] Time for a more in-depth review of the show for people who watched it and care to know what I think…for whatever reason.
I’ve been saying “Binge and Cringe” a lot since Friday because that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing since the show was released.
On Friday morning, I watched episode one with my son – who just finished watching every season of the original show on Netflix and couldn’t really understand why/how everyone looked so old all of a sudden. There were more than a few times during the premiere episode where I felt like burying my forehead into my palm in embarrasment. Almost every scene (maybe even nearly half the dialogue) consisted of catch phrases and old show references that would cause the studio audience to cheer, forcing the actors to wait until the applause died down. The cherry on top was the living room performance of Jesse and the Rippers’ number one hit in Japan, “Forever”. I groaned in embarrasment at that scene…and then sang along with a full recollection of the lyrics. But I figured that was to be expected from the first episode. The first episode acts as sort of a passing of the torch (or, um…house) from Danny, Jesse and Joey onto D.J., Stephanie and Kimmy. From then on, the majority of the show belonged to the girls and their new cast of kids with the odd cameo here and there from the older cast members.
For the entire season, the girls managed to carry the show. D.J. (played by Candace Cameron-Bure) has grown into a pretty strong lead for the show, even managing to take on more of the comedic moments within the show (something her character in the old show wasn’t really known for). Aside from Stephanie (played by Jodie Sweetin) becoming quite the smoke show (if I can pull off saying that without sounding like a total creeper), she manages to hold down some solid acting scenes in the series. Though, she came with more than a few cringy moments – especially all those times she was behind the DJ booth saying “party people”…I dunno, maybe it just touches a personal nerve with me for some reason! I feel that Kimmy Gibbler (played by Andrea Barber) had the biggest challenge of the cast. With her character often being the goof ball in the old series, the onus was on Barber to continue her antics as the friend without a filter. In a lot of scenes, this seemed to fall flat as her goofy moments were a little over-played and – yup, you guessed it – cringe-worthy. And you could kinda see it coming when watching that part of the trailer where Stephanie tells Kimmy that she’s stuck in the nineties.
A lot of the previous show’s success, however, was attributed to the casting of the kids. Yes, the Olsen Twins wouldn’t be the rich fashion moguls they are today without the fame they attributed from Full House. BUT Full House probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did if those girls weren’t just so gosh darn cute! The casting of the children seemed to work out great for Fuller House. The two older kids, Jackson (Michael Campion) and Kimmy’s daughter, Ramona (Soni Bringas), both had their share of entertaining moments. The producers also managed to scrounge up another cute set of twins to fill the baby role (Dashiell and Fox Messitt). But the child who stole the show for me was the middle child, Max (Elias Harger). He’s both adorbs and had some of the funniest kid lines in the show.
As far as side characters rate, Kimmy’s on-again-off-again husband, Fernando (Juan Pablo Di Pace), had some funny moments but overall the laughs came from his accent-laden line delivery – reminiscent of Fez from That 70s Show. D.J.’s old high school flame, Steve Hale (played by Aladdin–err, I mean Scott Weigner), now a Bay Area podiatrist, has a quirky yet loveable role as one corner of the show’s love triangle. The other corner of that love triange – competing for D.J.’s heart – is Matt Harmon (John Brotherton) who not only had a good on-screen chemistry with D.J. but also garnered a few genuine laughs whenever he shared screen time with Steve. That accidental kiss between him and Steve was probably one of my favourite comedic moments in the show.
The show’s ability to make fun of itself worked out okay for the most part. Sure, the first Olsen Twins joke – where they all pause and look into deadpan into the camera – was good for a laugh, but I think my favourite was Kimmy’s crack at the Olsen Twins’ clothing line saying, “with prices like this it’s no wonder they don’t need to act anymore.” Jesse also had a funny line about the sentimental moments of the show and those moments being so beautiful, he’d often hear violins playing. Though, I think I laughed the hardest at D.J.’s throw away line to Steve in reference to the old Alanis Morrisette song he had cued up in his car’s CD player, asking him if he knew who that song was really about. [A little history, if you weren’t aware: Dave Coulier (a.k.a. Joey) once dated the Canadian singer-songwriter. The song “You Oughta Know” was supposedly written about him following their break-up.]
Overall, I was somewhat surprised at how much I genuinely enjoyed the show. Would I welcome a second season? Well, whether I do or don’t, I would bet a lot of money that a second season will get green-lit by Netflix…but yes, if a second season of Fuller House were to be released, I probably would watch it…and it would take me the same amount of time to get through the second season as it took me to get through the first.
[UPDATE (03/02/16): The show JUST got renewed by Netflix for a second season. Oh my lanta!!]
If you’re expecting deep meaningful insight or thought-provoking content, you’re definitely binge watching the wrong show. But if you’re looking for an easy viewing experience where you can turn your brain off for half an hour, you’ll probably find that you’ve got the right house. –Boitano
P.S. I’m also stoked that they touched on my prediction from over a year ago, but bummed it didn’t play out the way I wanted it to: