*Note: This article was written for MTSU Sidelines on March 2, 2016. To read the original article, click here.
Fuller House, the Netflix-original series that reprises the much-loved 1987-95 hit Full House, is a purely nostalgic show. While it tugs at the heartstrings and reminds viewers of familiar times, nostalgia won’t be enough to carry this show completely on its shoulders.
In the original Full House, Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) enlisted the help of his brother-in-law, Jesse (John Stamos) and childhood friend Joey (Dave Coulier) to raise his three daughters after the death of his wife. Fuller House follows Danny’s daughter, D.J. Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure), raising her three boys with the help of her sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweeten) and childhood friend Kimmy (Andrea Barber.) Sounds familiar, right?
While many expected the show to be similar to Full House, the plot relies too heavily on the original. It’s a weak gender-swapped spin-off with nothing unique to offer besides incorporating the present world. Even the first episode carries the same title, except with an added word: “Our Very First Show, Again.”
Twenty-nine years later, parenting means prying devices away from children for bonding time and tracking kids through an app because they can’t be trusted. It’s something many of today’s parents can probably relate to, but these issues get brushed away rather quickly in favor of cutesy shticks. D.J.’s middle child, Max (Elias Harger), has his own catchphrase “Holy chalupas!”and is even at one point buried in a pile of puppies. It’s almost as if the death of the father hasn’t effected the children in any way.
This concept is similar to Girl Meets World (2014), the gender-swapped version of Boy Meets World (1993), which follows Cory and Topanga’s daughter Riley as she learns life lessons. These unoriginal plots feel like nothing more than lazy television, piggybacking off the views of the good ol’ days.
The first episode works hard to incorporate every catchphrase and memory, from Stephanie’s “How rude!” to Jesse serenading his wife Becky with the wedding song he wrote for her, “Forever.” This show has its moments and gives fans the family-friendly antics they’ve missed. Choosing to incorporate clips of the characters in the original show into the intro was a smart choice. It reminds us of exactly why we’re here and what we’re looking forward to.
The impressive recreation of the set masterfully transports viewers back to the Tanner abode, where Danny decides to let D.J. keep the house instead of selling it. After original set drawings in the Warner Bros. archive couldn’t be found, production designer Jerry Dunn had to go through Full House frame-by-frame in order to recreate it perfectly.
However, these aspects alone can’t keep an audience’s attention forever. Nostalgia quickly wears off when it’s coupled with weak comedy. As for those who have never seen the original, there’s nothing interesting to hook them to this new show, perhaps because the idea has been outgrown. Scenes like a dance-off in episode three and D.J. gaining momma bear strength to fight off a Mexican wrestler in episode six are just few of the many ridiculous examples. However, it’s worth noting that Candace Cameron Bure does her own stunts, despite having a professional stunt double on hand.
Shaky reboots, like this year’s X-Files return, often only take away from the original show’s charm. Spin-offs work best when they can provide a refreshing look at old characters and a few new ones without the need for watching the original (like Better Call Saul). This simply isn’t the case for Fuller House. Let’s just hope the Gilmore Girls revival doesn’t follow suit.
It was a fun idea, but a show like this would have been better served with a short mini-series reunion, instead of a drawn-out, too-familiar concept. An opportunity to explore the new lives of the Full House family arose, but that opportunity has been thwarted by too much of the same-old, same-old.