Monday, April 24, 2017

TV on DVD Review: Fuller House - Season 1

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun to reunite with characters; good laughs
Cons: Seems forced a bit in first half
The Bottom Line:
Nostalgia in spades
As we revisit Tanners
For next gen of laughs

“I Knew There’d Be a Hug.”

It was just over a decade ago that I first discovered Full House, but I was soon watching every episode I could.  The announcement of Fuller House, a reunion/continuation of the story on Netflix, absolutely got my attention.  I wasn’t curious enough to subscribe to Netflix to watch it, but I did buy the season 1 DVD set as soon as it came out.

This show picks up in the present day as DJ Fuller (Candice Cameron Bure) is facing a new chapter in her life.  After her husband died, she moved back into her old house with her father Danny Tanner (guest star Bob Saget) so he could help her raise her three kids.  However, things are changing.  Danny and his long time co-host Aunt Becky (guest star Lori Loughlin) have gotten a nationally syndicated morning show and are moving to LA, meaning that DJ is going to have to be a full time single mother.

But just as things are getting over whelming, her sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and best friend Kimmie Gibbler (Andrea Barber) volunteer to move in to help DJ out with her kids.  While Stephanie has become a successful DJ (as in disc jockey), Kimmie is recently separated from her husband Fernando (guest star Juan Pablo Di Pace).  When she moves into the house, she brings along her daughter Ramona (Soni Bringas).

Naturally, there are some growing pains as the extended family learn to live with each other and their new circumstances.  For example, twelve-year-old Jackson (Michael Campion) has a hard time realizing he has to live with his younger brother, seven-year-old Max (Elias Harger).  Stephanie finds herself needing a job and having a hard time adjusting to her new life since she is no longer globetrotting all over the world.

But it’s the romance where things really get interesting.  Fernando is determined to win Kimmie back, and she begins to wonder if she should take him back.  And DJ, finally ready to start dating again, finds herself torn between high school boyfriend Steve (guest star Scott Weinger) and her boss’s son at the veterinary clinic Matt (guest star John Brotherton).

This season breaks down easily into two halves – or at least it seemed that way to me.  The first half tries a bit too much to capitalize on the nostalgia with recycled storylines and recaptured scenes done with a wink and a nod.  A little bit of that was okay, but I got a tired of it.  Plus the writing and acting seemed a bit off.  Oh, I know the original was never award worthy in either department, but this felt a bit like a Disney Channel or ABC Family show.

But then I hit the second disc, and I fell in love with the show.  It could be that I got used to the cheese factor, which I am sure was a part of it.  But the show also started creating new storylines, like playing up Kimmie and DJ’s love lives.  Honestly, the adult characters get more screen time than the kids, which still plays into the nostalgia factor for us, but I didn’t truly mind.  I found myself laughing more at the jokes, and it felt the writers and actors weren’t forcing things – the material was just coming out funny without it appearing the cast and crew were trying hard.

Heck, my favorite episode of the set comes from this second half as a huge delivery of roses arrives at the house, and no one knows who they might be from.

Everyone from the original show shows up here except for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.  Michelle still gets a few shout outs, however.  Nicky and Alex only show up for the pilot, but the rest of the adults make two or more appearances.  And yes, that does include John Stamos as Uncle Jessie and Dave Coulier as Joey.

This show is also a little more adult than the original.  It’s usually only a line or two an episode – a reference to Stephanie’s special brownies or a double entendre like Uncle Jessie’s sea man line in the pilot.  Most will probably sail over kid’s heads, but parents will want to be aware of it.

The DVD set itself is barebones.  It’s just the 13 episodes presented on two discs.  However, they look and sound great.

Fans of the original will definitely come to Fuller House for the nostalgia, and it is fantastic to be spending time with these characters again.  But as you watch season 1, you’ll start to find the charm that this show is bringing to the franchise all by itself.

Season 1 Episodes:
1. Our Very First Show, Again
2. Moving Day
3. Funner House
4. The Not-So-Great Escape
5. Mad Max
6. The Legend of El Explosivo
7. Ramon’s Not-So-Epic Party
8. Secrets, Lies, and Firetrucks
9. War of the Roses
10. A Giant Leap
11. Partnerships in the Night
12. Save the Dates
13. Love is in the Air

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