Of all the old TV shows that might get the “dark and gritty” reboot treatment, I have to say that I’m very surprised by what Netflix has done to ‘Full House’, that defining example of shitty 1990s family TV. Not that I have any particular attachment to the old show, mind you, but the new spinoff/continuation called, cleverly enough, ‘Fuller House’ is not what I expected at all.
D.J. Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) is all grown up. In the years since the show went off the air, she became an evangelical Christian, got married and changed her name to D.J. Tanner-Fuller. (Wait, wait, wait… “Fuller House”… Now I get it!) Sadly, her husband tragically died while doing missionary work with D.J.’s best friend Kimmy Gibler at the local Motel 6, leaving D.J. to raise their 17 young children all on her own.
Broke and homeless, D.J. and the kids move back to the old family house in San Francisco, where her dad Danny (Bob Saget) and non-blood-related “uncle” Joey (Dave Coulier) still live in… ahem… “confirmed bachelorhood.” Jesse (John Stamos) pops in for the occasional visit, but spends most of his time over at a better sitcom on Fox.
Unfortunately, D.J.’s brood of kids present a big problem for Joey, who, as should be no surprise to anyone, is a registered sex offender. By court order, he’s not allowed to live within 500 yards of children.
As a result, Joey and Danny are forced to move out of their own house. Desperate for help, D.J. invites her sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), a recovering meth addict and former host of deep-cable cult TV sensation ‘Pants-Off Dance-Off’, to move into the house with her. This provides fertile ground for plenty of slapstick gags in which Jesse, one of the men who raised her from very young childhood, can’t help himself from staring at Steph’s enormous breast implants and making “Aoogah aoogah…” sounds.
Nowhere to be found are youngest sisters Michelle or Michelle, neither of whom would return anyone’s phone calls when invited to the family reunion. How rude!
The main plot of the pilot episode, called ‘Our Very First Show, Again’, centers on the return of Kimmy Gibler (Andrea Barber). As it turns out, Kimmy is a stone-cold sociopath whose all-consuming obsession with D.J. drove her to adopt D.J.’s hairstyle and wardrobe, then seduce and murder her husband with a high heel to the eye socket, ‘Single White Female’ style. (The show is loaded with great ’90s pop culture references like that.) Over the course of the episode, she deceptively ingratiates herself back into D.J.’s life and murders her father and faux-uncles, staging Danny and Joey’s deaths to look like a murder-suicide and Jesse’s like auto-erotic asphyxiation. At first, no one questions any of these. (“That sounds about right,” comments D.J.’s ‘tween son, who was bright enough to find it suspicious when Joey’s “Pull my finger” gag somehow resulted in his zipper opening.)
By the end of the half-hour, only Stephanie suspects that Kimmy may have ulterior motives for insisting that she and her dead-eyed daughter should move into the Tanner house. Acting quickly to discredit this possible threat, Kimmy plants a bag of cocaine in Steph’s room. Hijinks ensue when D.J. mistakes the white powder for baby formula and feeds it to her infant twins. Talk about bouncing baby boys!
In typical Netflix fashion, the show’s entire first season premiered simultaneously on Friday for your binge-watching pleasure. I haven’t had time to watch more than the pilot episode so far. The show is quite a bit more profane and violent than the original, but I suppose that’s a reflection of the times we live in, not to mention that the standards for family television are a little more lenient on Netflix than on a major broadcast network. The part where Kimmy graphically slices off a cop’s face and wears it like a mask for a cheap ‘Silence of the Lambs’ gag is perhaps a bit much for my taste.