You could also call this series Full House: The Next Generation. The Tanner kids from Full House are all grown up and are now the leads of the aptly-titled sequel, Fuller House.
Counting on people’s nostalgia for the good old days, Fuller House, which premiered last month, tries to stick to the tried and tested formula with one or two tweaks. After all, Full House, which started in 1987, went on for eight seasons and attracted a cool 17 million viewers in the United States alone at the height of its popularity.
The canned laugh track, catchphrases and the original cast sans the Olsen twins return for the sequel but the older cast members appear mostly in a supporting capacity here.
The focus is on sisters DJ Tanner-Fuller (played by Candace Cameron Bure) and Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Sweetin) as well as DJ’s best friend, Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber).
The initial anticipation of seeing Bob Saget, John Stamos, Dave Coulier, Lori Loughlin and Steve Weinger reprise their roles as Danny Tanner, Jesse Katsopolis, Joey Gladstone, Rebecca Donaldson-Katsopolis and Steve Hale dissipates quickly, unfortunately.
The reunion – which also sees Blake and Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit return as Jesse and Becky’s twin sons Nicky and Alex Katsopolis (they are in college!) – comes across as awkward.
Maybe it’s because of the noticeable absence of Michelle Tanner from the crowded house – not even a phone call from this former munchkin.
Perhaps the vibe is coming from the actors having to rediscover their roles after 20 years. Or it could simply be a case of too much, too soon in a single episode: establishing the premise of the new series, putting in references to the original show, and bringing the audience up to speed on what the characters have been up to since Full House ended in 1995.
Where Full House saw three men trying their best to raise three girls, Fuller House has three women coming together to raise three boys.
DJ (aka Donna Jo) lost her firefighter husband in the line of duty last year and she is struggling to balance being a good mother to her boys – 13-year-old Jackson (Michael Campion), seven-year-old Max (Elias Harger) and infant Tommy (Dashiell and Fox Messitt) – with working as a successful veterinarian. Kimmy has a girl of her own, too – 13-year-old Ramona (Soni Nicole Bringas) – so the seven of them live under one roof.
The young actors are pretty good, with Elias stealing the spotlight on occasion with his amusing antics and the baby playing Tommy is adorable, much like when Mary-Kate and Ashley had us all going “Aww …”
Speaking of the youngest Tanner, Michelle becomes the subject of a few in-jokes sprinkled throughout the 13 episodes. Apparently, she’s too busy running a fashion empire to lend her big sister a helping hand. She does appear in flashbacks, though.
Elsewhere, Stephanie has become a famous DJ, going by the stage name DJ Tanner (her sister DJ is not amused), and Kimmy has her own party-planning business. Kimmy is still annoying but her good heart does show up once in awhile.
The sequel keeps it family-friendly and cheesy with a few feel-good moments added to the mix. If you are looking for something edgy, this isn’t it.
The edgiest part of the show is probably the updated theme song performed by Carly Rae Jepsen. Everywhere You Look, originally performed by Jesse Frederick, gets a modern makeover and a dash of funk courtesy of the pop singer.
Fuller House keeps both the jokes and storylines G-rated with plenty of references to the 1980s and 1990s. The show gets a little better in later episodes as it finds its rhythm, roping in singer Macy Gray and baseball star Hunter Pence as guest stars, and the cast gets to bust out some Dirty Dancing and Bollywood moves – enough to make viewers crack a smile.
It is great to see the Tanner children and Kimmy turn into women capable of dealing with change and coping with loss and it’s commendable that the sequel captures the essence of its predecessor to a T, but it’s missing that irresistible pull to keep audiences coming back for more.
No matter though, as Fuller House has been renewed for a second season, proving that there are people out there who like kicking it old school and appreciate that it’s suitable for the whole family.
All 13 episodes of the first season of Fuller House, as well as 8 seasons of Full House, are available on Netflix.