Six episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
Some of my favorite memories are of lazy afternoons at my grandma’s, eating apple slices, yogurt, and waiting for a rerun of Full House to come on that me and my cousins had undoubtedly seen a dozen times before. Although the show dealt in schmaltz as much as trying-too-hard, early ’90s wackiness, its drumbeat anthem of pondering over “whatever happened to predictability?” made it easy to fall in love with. And of course, the central clan of group-hug-obsessed Tanners helped too.
Returning to that improbably large San Franciscan house with the red door in Fuller House not only feels dubious in terms of Netflix’s long-term agenda with the show (I don’t know how many times this needs to be written on the Internet: is nothing sacred anymore?), but in the reaction it’s likely to get out of even the most old school of Full House fans. The central trio are obviously having a blast, and that might be enough to stick around for a time, but this is a revival built exclusively on nostalgia-baiting catch-phrases, plot callbacks, and set design déjà vu, one with an entire premise seemingly meant to be a self-high-five victory lap for the mere accomplishment of… existing.
Still, those sets are easily the trippiest/coolest thing about Netflix’s new/old sitcom, each recreating the most memorable locations from the original series with occasionally clever inversions. Those moments mostly center around the gender-swapping of central twosome D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure) and Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) for the former’s new offspring, Jackson (Michael Campion) and Max (Elias Harger). Expectedly, the two boys end up shoved into their mom’s old room when Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) moves in with daughter Ramona (Soni Nicole Bringas). These gender flips (Kimmy is the new Joey, Ramona the new Steve, Tommy the new Michelle) are cute until you realize Fuller House has no intentions of dwelling into deeper meaning of each beyond, “The baby can squirt pee on people now.”
It’s not the best sign when the lodging arrangements on a show become the most memorable takeaway from everything else going on. It’s just that from scene one, when Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) waltzes down the kitchen stairs to rapturous applause from a canned studio audience, nothing feels right. By the time we tick down the list of returning stars (each with applause longer than the last, yes even Mr. Woodchuck) the entire tone of Fuller House is one of nostalgic envy than of progressive enthusiasm. Jeff Franklin’s entire premise feels as feeble and scared to be its own thing as D.J. does when everyone threatens to leave her and fly off to bigger and better lives in the opening scenes of the premiere.
They don’t, of course, besides all of the older cast finding easily digestible reasons for their geographical displacement (they pop up again every-so-often in subsequent episodes, sometimes you wish it was more, other times less). Stephanie and Kimmy decide to stick around, fill up the old Tanner-Fuller-Gibbler house with group hugs again, and help raise Fuller House‘s one true reason for existing: the next generation of kids in Jackson, Max, Ramona, and baby Tommy (played by twins Dashiell and Fox Messitt). Speaking of twins, Michelle is apparently launching a fashion empire in New York City – the fourth wall-breaking punchline of that gag is the first real sour note of Fuller House.