Warning: This recap for the “Pilot” episode of Fuller House contains spoilers.
In his classic 1820s poem “The Kraken,” Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote of an ancient behemoth lying in wait “far beneath in the abysmal sea.” In the 1920s, H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulu” described a similar abomination emerging from the sea as “it lumbered slobberingly into sight and gropingly squeezed its gelatinous green immensity through the black doorway.” Capping off this trifecta, in 2016 sitcom creator Jeff Franklin reawakened Full House from its ancient oceanic slumber in order to wreak wet vengeance upon the earth. A tale as old as it is terrifying.
Fuller House is Netflix’s new sequel series to Full House, and it is almost exactly as you suspected it would be. Everyone is approximately two decades older and the live studio audience still hoots approvingly for every toothless warm-hearted “joke.” But here’s the thing: If you are a snarky, childless hater, Fuller House wasn’t made for you. It was made first and foremost to generate clickable headlines to promote Netflix’s development department. But also it was created for the demographic who used to be babysat by afternoon reruns of Full House, and who now need televisual babysitters for children of their own. And here is the added twist: It’s not horrible? Perhaps I am just as susceptible to nostalgia as anyone else (I enjoyed the sometimes dreadful X-Files reboot for example) but there’s something so comforting about seeing the same old set, hearing the same old comedic rhythms, and most of all, seeing Jodie Sweetin be gainfully employed again. You know?
TLDR; I think I enjoyed Fuller House! Friends, let’s talk about it.
We began with scattered footage from the original series’ opening titles. The footage might have been up-rezzed, but the sinister underpinnings remained.
Yep, same house! Just with some updated decor and a nice new back-splash:
The entire cold open was basically an overlong Jimmy Fallon reunion segment, with each character entering the room one at a time to wild applause. Here was (an admittedly defeated-looking) Bob Saget trying to make a baby laugh with a piece of toast. So no, this was not going to be the Filthy Bob Saget™ we’d come to know and embrace in his years since Full House ended. But still, the goodwill was a-flowin’.
It’s OK to feel weird that Uncle Joey is almost 60 years old and yet emerged from the basement wearing Bugs Bunny pajamas. It’s OK because the show clearly feels weird about it also, and made a joke to that effect. In fact, that was the main difference between Fuller House and Full House: IT’S SO META. Well, kinda meta. Like, tons of call-backs and all the catchphrases all the time.
But it also was charmingly loyal to its own legacy… Like, they brought back the actual toddlers from the original series to reprise their roles as Uncle Jesse’s sons:
Not gonna lie, this made me feel funny. Honestly not sure what to do with these feelings.
If we are being real, the Kimmy Gibbler character has been one of television’s best and most thoughtful examinations of mental illness in primetime. That saga continues with Fuller House, which has promoted Kimmy Gibbler to a main character, and as you can see from her outfit above, she is still not in a great place.
Lori Loughlin and Candace Cameron also showed up for the proceedings, but probably the most outrageous moment was when Danny Tanner reported to the gang that Michelle couldn’t make it because she was in New York running a fashion empire. Now, I feel like I should explain this joke. Michelle Tanner was played by twins Mary-Ka– You know what, I don’t want to explain it anymore, I changed my mind. But as you could tell from the way all the characters looked into the camera with angry glares for about 12 minutes while the audience shrieked knowingly, this was a very meta joke. But can I offer a defense of the Olsen Twins for a second: THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL. They don’t need this cash-in trash pile. They are BUSY. That being said, miss you girls!
So yeah, the whole opening was weird for a lot of reasons, not least of which because it’s a group of people who know each other yet were seemingly introducing themselves to each other and explaining where they’d been all their lives. But whatever, the thrill of nostalgia was REAL and I was happy to see each and every familiar face.
But what on earth was this Carly Rae Jepsen theme song?!?
I did like that the new opening credits forced the “guest stars” to recreate their moments from the original credits IN SPLIT-SCREEN. I loved that Fuller House presented itself as an exercise in nostalgia, but needed to make sure we remembered exactly what we’d been nostalgic for by using video evidence. OK, fine, show, we trust you.
But about that “guest star” thing… As it turns out, Fuller House’s opening scene was basically a Trojan Horse situation that tricked us into thinking the whole gang was back, but they weren’t back forever. Nope, this was a show about DJ, Stephanie, Kimmy, and their respective kids. By episode’s end, all the elderly characters shuffled off to Los Angeles (Danny and Jesse are in the biz now) and Las Vegas (Joey is basically a poor man’s Jeff Dunham, and as we all know, even poor men can afford Jeff Dunham). So they are probably only going to make cameos from Episode 2 onward. “Deal with it!” — Fuller House
That being said, I really liked the conflict between Stephanie and DJ. Stephanie was presented as a globetrotting, hard partying DJ (who spins under the name DJ Tanner) who occasionally affects a British accent (don’t ask). Meanwhile, DJ is a very uptight, disapproving widow. THAT’S RIGHT, WIDOW. In having a dead spouse, DJ was really taking after her father these days. But yeah, I think the mismatched sister element is a genuinely good idea for a sitcom, and again, I am really glad to see Jodie Sweetin on TV again. I just genuinely like her! (Wish I could say the same for Candace Cameron, whom I can now only see as the annoying conservative co-host of The View.)
Yeah, I don’t know.
This poor baby was also played by twins, so no pressure, fellas! Maybe you’ll also become billionaires someday also, who knows.
Oh, important Danny Tanner marital update: He has a wife now! What was her name and who even was she? It was a mystery, as she barely spoke or existed. But Danny Tanner has a wife now, so there you go.
Kimmy Gibbler’s ex-husband is a fiery hot Latino who had cheated on her but wants to win her back. In my opinion this plotline will be very fruitful when it comes to romantic sitcom shenanigans, what about you? Also he will probably have his shirt off at some point and I am willing to bet my home on it.
At one point there was a going away party for the elderly characters and everyone began to dance for some reason.
Then Uncle Jessie sang a song to Lori Loughlin, presumably because it was in John Stamos’s contract.
Hey remember DJ’s old boyfriend Steve? I guess it was a recurring joke that he always ate all their food. That was a cute joke for a growing teenager, but now that he’s a grown-ass man it’s just kinda sad? Anyway, here’s Steve attempting to take all of the Tanners’ food (including their children’s food) with him. Also he’s divorced now and wants to get with DJ again, so expect some further shenanigans there.
Then Comet Jr. Jr. gave birth to puppies in a kiddie pool. Also the new child actors had tons of jokes and scenes but who cares.
Then all of the elderly characters were set to catch flights out of town forever (and Danny was gonna sell this house also) but just when they attempted to leave they heard DJ talking to her baby over the baby monitor.
And I’m not going to lie, it was a really sad scene and Candace Cameron did a good job of genuinely crying on camera. See, her husband had died in a fire and now she was a single mom with too many responsibilities. This successfully guilt-tripped all the elderly characters into putting their careers on hold and staying put. Except then the daughters double-shamed them about wanting to stay — they can take care of themselves, thank you — and the elderly characters decided to leave again. But first we were treated to a split-screen of both timelines singing the The Flintstones theme song to dazed-looking babies.
The thing is, I may not have a soul, but I still couldn’t help but smile at this moment. I truly hate how important Full House is to me and my heart, but it is, and that’s just something I’m going to have to deal with. These people!
And then if your heart wasn’t entirely melted yet, the final closing card revealed that the first episode was dedicated to the deceased parents of the key players. Now, I don’t doubt that their loving parents would have enjoyed Fuller House, but I’m wondering if it’s because they would have liked the jokes, or just because they like it when their kids are employed. Either way!
Guys, Fuller House is a thing that exists now and that’s just the world we live in. Let’s not waste our time being mad about it or despairing over the trend to revive or reboot old TV series. For every Fuller House there’s a Twin Peaks, so let’s stay hopeful and keep life exciting, because sometimes nothing is more important than accepting everything with an open heart. [Audience AWWWs.]
No but seriously, I didn’t hate Fuller House. It was fine and fun. Did the pilot need to be 35 minutes long without commercials? Probably not! But I refuse to be mad about this thing, and so should you. [Audience boos but then claps.]
What did YOU think of Fuller House?
Fuller House is now streaming on Netflix.