Although Full House had stopped airing in 1995 in the US, its popularity only rose in India in the early noughties. It was one of the shows, along with FRIENDS, to be aired on Zee Cafe when it had launched in 2000. A lot of Indian channels have syndicated popular US TV shows and some of these series have certainly hit gold with the audience — Different Strokes, Dennis the Menace, Three Stooges, FRIENDS to name a few. Full House was among them, thanks to its family friendly nature and of course the wonderful child artistes who you saw grow up over the years.
So when Uncle Jesse aka John Stamos officially announced on the Jimmy Fallon Show that Full House would be coming back on Netflix, the excitement among its fanbase was palpable. Most of the show’s primary audience have now grown up, and who doesn’t like see how their favourite TV show's characters have evolved after a 20-year hiatus? Also, ‘tis the season of TV show reboots.
Fuller House kicks off with a grand reunion of the old cast. And if you have been a fan of the show, you will also be smiling and cheering throughout with the studio audience, as Uncle Jesse (John Stamos), Aunt Becky (Lori Loughlin), Danny (Bob Saget), Uncle Joey (Dave Coulier) and then kids-now adults, DJ Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) make their stage entrance. A snarky arrow is fired with regards to Michelle’s (the Olsen twins) absence from the show. On being asked by Stephanie where Michelle is, she gets a “Michelle’s busy in New York running her fashion empire” response, after which the entire cast breaks the fourth wall and faces the studio audience with a smirk. As homage to the original, the youngest character in Fuller House (DJ’s toddler Tommy) is played by twin brothers.
In Fuller House, the roles have been reversed. DJ Tanner, is now DJ Tanner-Fuller, a single mother of three boys, working as a veterinarian. Just like her dad’s bereavement in Full House, DJ has lost her firefighter husband and is left to raise her three sons — Jackson, Max and Tommy — on her own. Stephanie Tanner is DJ (disc jockey) Tanner, a popular EDM DJ in the UK who has decided to settle down with her sister. Kimmy Gibbler is now a party planner and to-be-divorcee and a single mother to a teenage girl. The whole show revolves around Kimmy and Stephanie helping DJ out with her kids — just like uncles Jesse and Joey helped out Danny. The older cast from the original show keeps making guest appearances through some of the 13 episodes — which is sensible, as it would’ve been a nightmare having a balanced show with as many characters.
There are three major story arcs in Fuller House. The first, as outlined above. The other two are DJ’s quest to find Mr Right (a fight between her childhood sweetheart — Steve from Full House — and her colleague at the clinic, Matt) and Gibbler’s equation with her soon-to-be-ex husband. Stephanie is left playing the cool aunt to her nephews and a friend/philosopher/guide to DJ and Kimmy.
Among the new characters, DJ’s second son Max and Kimmy’s to-be-divorced husband Fernando are surely the ones to watch out for. Max is like a mini Sheldon Cooper, although much less annoying, and Fernando adds in a bit of Latino stereotype to the suburban American household.
So is the reboot worth it?
Well, it really depends. If you have never seen Full House, don’t even bother with this show. There are just too many inside jokes, nods to some older episodes of Full House, a lot of ‘How Rude!’, ‘Have Mercy!’, ‘Cut it OUT’, ‘You got it dude!’ flying around, which will make no sense to a newbie.
For fans, it is a mixed bag. On the one hand it is certainly great to see almost the entire cast working together, and having the same kind of on-screen chemistry. (Kimmy Gibbler gets my vote as the character who was closest to her younger self). You know how you sometimes wonder if you will ever be in school or college with the exact same group of friends and taught by the same teachers again? Fuller House fulfills the TV show analogy for that. It is great to hear the familiar catch-phrases once in a while — Mr Woodchuck’s ‘Is that table, made of, wooood?’ never gets old. The original Full House footage, which is interspersed throughout, does make you smile. The sarcastic dialogues between Stephanie and Kimmy Gibbler are fun. And there are some genuinely funny moments sprinkled across the 13 episodes. Add some inside references from the older era (The Flintstones, anyone?) and the 90s kid in you suddenly wakes up from his or her slumber.
But on the other hand, it is difficult to relate to a lot of over-the-top situations (impromptu dance competitions in every other episode, playing your nephew’s amateur trumpet performance at an EDM festival to dancing revellers, Mommy dearest transforming into a Lucha Libre professional?) that the show keeps throwing up. Many times, you feel like the characters tried too hard and the storyline was way too contrived to drive home a point. Full House was loved, in part, because it tackled relatable issues in a fun but assertive manner — with a lot of group hugs thrown in for good measure. Fuller House tries hard to do that, but somehow one isn’t as convinced. But at least they get the group hug part right.
Now, I am not saying Fuller House should become a preachy show — far from it. While it’s good to build up on the past franchise, Fuller House tends to overdo it to the point where it loses its own identity. For instance, old one-liners and catch-phrases are used ad nauseum to an extent where the only new catchphrase that we hear in this show is ‘Holy Chalupas’ which Max exclaims when he is surprised! A case of trying to hard to get something trending?
While the kids in Fuller House make a wonderful effort, they are no match for the kids from the original. I know it’s unfair to compare just one season of Fuller House with the entire eight seasons of Full House. But as a fan you are bound to do that. Fuller House will definitely take a couple of seasons more, at least, to break away from the past and become a stand-alone sitcom. It has already been renewed for season 2 by the way. Also, some plot points that will be carried forward are already quite predictable.
Would I say the reboot was a bad idea? Not really. I would still watch season 2 and give the Fullers and Tanners and Gibblers another chance.
The challenge before Fuller House now is to decide whether it wants to just cater to its hardcore fans, some of whom have already departed within a few episodes of season one, or create a brand new audience and stand apart in this on-demand TV streaming era.