The Fuller House Première Is Full of Egregious Call-backs, But We Kinda Love It?
Each week, we're recapping the first season of Fuller House, episode by episode. We're certain this is what Al Gore had envisioned when he invented the Internet.
Everywhere you look, nostalgia culture has dug its heels in, promising the kind of reboots that are relatively low-risk and will get its millennial targets tweeting. The return of Gilmore Girls, Hey Arnold, and Legends of the Hidden Temple are already in the works, but the arrival of Fuller House on Netflix has already set the bar high in capturing the absurd goodness of the Tanner family all over again.
Since most of the first episode was about catching up with the clan, let's sum it up, too. It's been 29 years (or, the life of the Olsen Twins) since we first met The Tanners, living under one very expensive roof in the middle of San Francisco. Nearly all of the main players are accounted for, conveniently recounting all of their current happenings in the first scene over breakfast, as if they had never met each other. So, where are they now? This rundown comes complete with current age — to speed along that existential crisis of yours.
DJ Fuller, 38 - Veterinarian, widowed mother of three, wearer of mom jeans that are more mom jeans than Becky's mom jeans.
Stephanie Tanner, 34 - Globetrotting DJ (yep, really), Londonite, single wild child, temporary user of distractingly bad British accent.
Kimmy Gibbler, 38 - Party planner, nearly-divorced mother of one surly daughter, apparently really good in bed (according to her ex), still has smelly feet.
Danny Tanner, 59 - Still a TV host, soon-to-be Los Angeleno, remarried grandfather, subject of several, entirely too long reaction shots.
Joey Gladstone, 55(ish) - Full-time comedian in Las Vegas, apparently married according to his ring finger, but she has yet to be mentioned, still has that damn woodchuck.
Jesse Kotsopolis, 53 - Soap opera music composer, also on his way to Los Angeles, father of burnout sons, undisputed winner of "best aging" in this group.
Rebecca Donaldson-Kotsopolis, 52 - Also still a TV host, also on her way to Los Angeles to work with Danny, worn-out mother who still wants a baby because apparently she doesn't know how old she is.
Nicky & Alex Kotsopolis, 25 - Indecipherable college super seniors, do a lot of gross boy things, probably smoke a ton of weed.
Steve Hale, 41 - Podiatrist, divorcee, dog dad to Comet Jr. Jr., borderline stalker of DJ, still eats all of their food.
Jackson Fuller, 13 - DJ's oldest son and one of two resident moody teens.
Max Fuller, 7 - DJ's middle child, super suck-up, clean freak, and overall nerd.
Tommy Fuller Jr. - DJ's youngest child, is a baby, doesn't do a whole lot.
Romona Gibbler, 13 - Kimmy's daughter, remarkably unscathed but still kind of the worst, like most teenage girls are.
Fernando Guerrero - Kimmy's soon-to-be ex-husband, cheated on her multiple times, but is trying to win her back, met by lots of eye rolling.
Danny Tanner's Nameless Wife - All we know is she's super tan and not Vicky (ugh). She only shows up at the party where she talks about moving, but doesn't leave for LA with the rest of the crew. Seriously, who is she?
Comet Jr. Jr. - Granddaughter of the original Comet, mother of puppies, still has more of a character arc than Danny's wife.
The gang is all back together to ship off the aforementioned future Angelenos, except DJ, who has been living in the house for the last year with her sons after her husband died. (See where this is going?) Later that night, they throw a going-away party in which only the family, The Rippers, and Steve attend. Seriously, 30-plus years in San Francisco and they have zero friends? Stephanie "spins" '80s hits and the whole room sings along as Jesse and The Rippers lead the room in Jesse and Rebecca's wedding song (and renowned 1992 Japanese #1 hit), "Forever." Guys, it was so heavy on the feels, even if it was mostly to fill the room with four more people.
The following day, everyone is bustling around, Kimmy cleaning up the party, Stephanie on her way to Brazil, Joey back to Vegas, and the other elders to Los Angeles. DJ is feeling the pressure of everyone headed off at once, especially when, almost simultaneously, Tommy Jr. gets an ear infection and Steve comes barging with Comet Jr. Jr., seeking DJ's veterinary help in the midst of a difficult puppy delivery. Amidst the scramble, a baby monitor left on spills DJ's anxious confession to her baby about how to do it all alone.
Shortly after, they all gather in the living room where at first, Danny/Becky/Joey/Jesse offer to cancel their plans and stay with her. This, thankfully, inspires a much more flexible Stephanie to take on the task, with Kimmy following up right after to offer her hand, too. Danny decides to take the house off the market, which is probably good, since apparently he packed nothing (including his wife) with him. On the way out, we get one last, surprisingly endearing musical number, by way of a split screen between 1987 and 2016, as they all sing the Flinstones theme song to Tommy Jr. in the same way they did to Michelle way back when.
That final scene puts into perspective what this sequel is trying to do. Let's face it, Full House was never a masterpiece. It wasn't meant to be. We remember it as such because of the time and place in which we all experienced it. As a standalone show, it will be hard to capture that same magic with so many of its big moments coming from call-backs to the original show. It's likely this formula will be the norm in the nostalgia game, at least if Fuller House has anything to say about it.
Biggest Highlight: The show handled the Olsen Twin-size elephant in the room in a surprisingly hilarious way. After explaining why Michelle was not there to say goodbye, the whole cast breaks the fourth wall, staring directly at their castmates in a tactful way.
Biggest WTF: We almost shut the show off entirely after the five unbearable minutes of Stephanie's British accent. The show was aware of it from the get-go, but it was so, so painful. It's likely that Stephanie's line of work as a "DJ" will inspire at least a few more Biggest WTF nods in this series.
Most Egregious Call-Backs:
- Tommy Jr. dressed in an Elvis Onesie, gifted to him by Jesse.
- Joey responding to the Elvis bit as Bullwinkle.
- Jesse justifying his years of neurotic grooming through his superhuman lack of aging.
- Kimmy Gibbler, nearly 40 years old, putting her bare feet on the kitchen table.
- The hugging. Still so. much. hugging.
- Joey conveniently having Mr. Woodchuck next to Tommy Jr.'s crib, at which the baby rightfully cries and cowers in fear.
- Anything to do with Steve and food.
- Catchphrase round-up: "How rude!" "Have Mercy!" "Cut it Out!" "Hola Tannerinos!"
Stay tuned for the next episode review of "Episode 2 - Moving Day" on Friday, March 18.
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