FULLER HOUSE (Netflix) review

Well this one came out of left field, didn’t it? I mean, like anything nostalgic, fans of wanted a FULL HOUSE reunion for years. One reunion selfie later and plans to launch a sequel series to the beloved 80’s, 90’s classic is finally being made on Netflix, with Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, and Andrea Barber reprising their roles respectfully as D.J. Fuller, Stephanie Tanner, and Kimmie Gibbler, along with new kids to learn life lessons from their parents. I won’t lie, I had high expectations as I loved the original show. Now that it’s out for the general masses to view, this is my honest opinion of Netflix’s pilot season of FULLER HOUSE.

(SUMMARY)

D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure) has grown up and become a mother of three boys: twelve-year-old Jackson (Michael Campion), eight-year-old Max (Elias Harger), and infant Tommy Jr. (twins: Dashiell and Fox Messitt). However her husband and father to her children, a firefighter, tragically passed away. Showing their support, D.J.’s family pays her a visit in their old childhood home. But they’re all moving away and D.J. finds the very real possibility that she’ll be alone and with the loss of her husband still so close, she doesn’t know if she can do it. Deciding that they are unable to leave D.J. alone, younger sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and best friend Kimmie Gibbler (Andrea Barber) and her daughter Ramona (Soni Bringas) decide to move in with D.J. to help out. What follows is an episodic day to day attempt for the family to figure out life together and apart.

(REVIEW)

I liked it. It’s undeniably flawed, but it’s a worthy successor to the original.

Let’s start with the good. I say that this show definitely captured the spirit of the original and keeps the same formula: someone has a problem, high jinks ensues, go for a heart-to-heart talk that ends with everyone happy. If you were a fan of that formula with the original, then this will please the fans.

The characters are faithful as well, but evolved. D.J. is still pretty much the most mature one. Of course, she’s the one who ends up in a love triangle (we’ll get to that later). My recommended episode for her would be Episode 8: SECRETS, LIES, AND FIRETRUCKS. There’s a D.J. moment that will stick with me forever.

Stephanie is a party girl, musical wannabe who dates a lot of guys who never see more than one episode. My recommended good episode for her would be Episode 5: MAD MAX. Especially at the end. I would recommend Sweetin for any acting gig. Serious tear-jerker.

Kimmie, the series weirdo and goofball didn’t change one bit and thank the good lord on his porcelain throne, she is still a weirdo and still an amusing handful and I get so much of her in this show! Barber who hasn’t acted in… well, anything in the last twenty years since FULL HOUSE hasn’t missed a beat. Any of them really. But I loved Kimmie in FULL HOUSE and that she’s a mainstay in this series makes me incredibly happy. Honestly, any time Kimmie is on screen, she makes the scene.

But that’s the show’s stars. How about the adults’ children; the next generation? They’re great…mostly.

Ramona’s… kind of bland. She’s a typical tween who wants her independence and gets embarrassed by her mom. Kind of a 90’s character when you think about it, which makes her a bit dated. Not that Bringas is a poor actress mind you, in fact, she can be pretty charming, funny, and sweet, but there’s still no interesting character to be found. To the show’s credit, though, she’s not annoying.

But if there’s any new addition that’s hilarious is Max, the middle child. Oh my god, this kid had me going. I love kid characters that are beyond their years and talk like adults. I think they’re just so funny and to see such a young man say words that I sure couldn’t even spell at that age is endlessly entertaining. This kid is going places. Max is my favorite kid character on the show.

I’ll get to my feelings regarding Jackson, the oldest son, in a minute, but I should also mention the humor. While the original show may have had to really water down any possible adult humor, it’s pretty prominent in this new show. This is a very good thing. FULL HOUSE came out at a different time of television. A family friendly show like that would never get away with sex jokes like all sitcoms have today. While I won’t say FULLER HOUSE is more adult oriented, it is more mature with the humor. There are adult jokes and some of them are pretty outrageous. This is fitting with the new generation of humor compared to the past, otherwise something too clean cut like the original show wouldn’t work in today’s viewing. They cast a wider net in terms of humor, but never loses the family friendly element.

I wanted to close off the good qualities of the show with one of my favorite elements: the faith the show has in D.J., Stephanie, and Kimmie. It would have been so easy for this show to just keep Danny, Jesse, Becky, and Joey (respectfully reprised by Bob Saget, John Stamos, Lori Loughlin, and Dave Coulier) just to save face for the new series, but I’m thrilled they didn’t. For one thing, these actors have their own projects outside of this show and makes sense they couldn’t stay for the entire season. But even if they could, the writers really shouldn’t anyway. The whole point of the “Fuller” in FULLER HOUSE is that D.J. FULLER would be taking over. If the original actors stuck around, the cast would have been incredibly crowded and very little justice would be done for any new characters, and that’s not the point of the whole “passing of the torch” concept. This should be D.J., Stephanie, and Kimmie’s time to shine as the next gen parents and dealing with their family problems. The occasional special guest appearance is always welcomed (though looking back now, there might have been a little too many), the show does have episodes where they just tell the story of these girls and their kids. Those episodes functioned just fine.

Alright, onward to what didn’t work that well.

If there’s any kid character that’s incredibly funny, there’s another kid character that must balance it out by being incredibly annoying, and that’s Jackson. By god, this kid needed a serious slap across the face. He’s constantly giving himself the nickname “J-Money.” Just… a thousand no’s. I hope to god if there’s a season two, they cut that crap out fast. It’s beyond irritating, and his fixation with Lola, played by Ashley Liao, who is Ramona’s best friend, is the fuel for this nickname. I ain’t religious, but I pray that there’ll be an episode where Lola says, “Jackson, shut up with your nickname,” and you never have to hear “J-Money” ever again. Obviously, this isn’t Campion’s fault. He’s a young actor with few credits to his name and most likely not his idea to say this stuff. But when the episodes don’t revolve around his crush on Lola, he’s not a bad character. Misguided and certainly a kind-hearted troublemaker (again, kind of done before), he’s still a loving brother. Honestly, the worst thing they could have done with him is make him a bully to his siblings, and that would have turned me off to the character completely. Since that isn’t the case, I’m not giving up hope for the future of this character. Just cut out the nickname and I’ll deal with the rest.

I mentioned before how there’s a romance triangle with D.J. Original series regular Steve, played by Scott Weinger, is back and still holds a rather uncomfortably bright torch for D.J. Come on man, twenty years later? Grow a pair. Or at least don’t be THIS obsessed. The best thing the writers could have done was develop his feelings for D.J. Showcase why he was so into her in the first place and why he’s so into her now. I’m also not the biggest fan of the character Matt, played by John Brotherton. He’s only a slightly less annoying Steve. The show makes such an emphasis on how these are desirable men, but it doesn’t work. One’s borderline creepy, the other is more like a cartoon character than a man.

I’ll quickly mention that the original catchphrases make a return, like “how rude,” and “have mercy.” Granted, “have mercy” is a little more tolerable as it’s only Jesse that says it and he’s not in every episode, but Stephanie does utter the phrase, “how rude” almost every episode and… yeah, it’s pretty gimmicky. The return of the original catchphrases wouldn’t be a negative if they were worked in better. With clever writing, it would have been possible. But they’re mishandled and always make me cringe. Thank god for my newfound crush on Sweetin, or else I might call it a real sin.

Speaking of sins, it’s time to mention the unforgivables.

As annoying as D.J.’s boyfriends are… it’s time to mention the cardinal sin of this show: Fernando, played by Juan Pablo Di Pace. This is THE most annoying character this show could have belted out. First of all, I don’t believe for one god damned second that accent is natural. I know thick accents exist, but not such cartoony accents that make Speedy Gonzales look credible. Beyond that though, he’s got no good qualities to him. Okay, he’s not abusive or anything, the doctrine of wholesomeness would never stand for that, but he cheated on Kimmie when they were married and obsessively reenters her life. Fine if he’s there for his daughter, but with the exception of one episode, we don’t really see him be a womanizer. We already have three weirdly horny characters, one of them just entering puberty, we don’t need an over-the-top version of them. And the show never paints him in any good lights. Even Steve has a couple of good moments, Matt has a funny line or two, but where’s the likability and charm with Fernando?! I doubt even Kimmie Gibbler would go for a guy like this. I believe she’d fall for someone exotic, but not this… animated. Any scene Fernando is in is ruined.

Overall… the show does have more than just a few good things going for it. While it’s got some serious problems, usually character related, it’s not a bad show in my opinion. I’m happy to see the original cast return, I’ve grown attached the new kids in the house, and I’m more than happy to see the show’s original charm and likability is intact. I’m sad that I have to wait until a season two will be announced, but I’m definitely on board.

My honest rating: 4/5

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