Fuller House Renewed

Fuller House Review: Netflix Revival Relies Almost Entirely on Nostalgia

grade_B-Let’s start with the good news: If all you’re expecting from Netflix’s Full House revival series is a where-are-they-now nostalgia fest, complete with friendly faces and catchphrases you’ve heard a million times, plan to call in sick from work on Feb. 26 to binge the first season. Fuller House was made for you.

Picking up more than two decades after the events of Full House‘s series finale, Fuller‘s pilot stages a family reunion for the Tanners — minus Michelle, whose absence is explained via a fourth wall-breaking joke — which inspires DJ (Candace Cameron Buré), now a widowed mother of three, and Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), a jet-setting deejay with no children or roots whatsoever, to move back into their childhood house. Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), now a professional party planner, also makes herself at home. (Some things never change.)

As with most reunions, the mere sight of the Tanners, Fullers (DJ’s new last name) and Katsopoli back under the same roof will be enough to send fans of the original series into a state of nirvana. Superficially, everyone looks pretty much the same, or better in some cases — see exhibits John Stamos and Lori Loughlin — as they did during the series’ original run, and not a single actor struggles to slip back into his or her character. (Bob Saget’s low-energy Danny will likely elicit a few head-cocks, though it’s not completely detrimental to the show’s overall vibe.)

On the surface, Fuller House is every revival series’ dream: the actors’ chemistry is alive and well, the set is a freakishly accurate recreation of the original — down to the way-too-small couch that should have been upgraded in the early ’90s — and, most refreshingly, the concept doesn’t feel excruciatingly forced. (The original stars’ initial reappearances are a little stunted, thanks to each star taking a massive pause for audience applause, though that’s to be expected on a sitcom.)

But that’s the thing; there isn’t a whole lot beneath that surface. Once Danny, Jesse and the gang dissipate after the pilot, the show settles into its regular groove, which is comparable to that of average contemporary family sitcoms like Melissa & Joey or Last Man Standing. In some respects, Fuller House faces the same challenge The Muppets dealt with this past fall: How does one update a squeaky-clean franchise for 2016 audiences without making things too edgy, thus tarnishing the foundation upon which it was built? And just like The Muppets, that challenge is met with mixed results. (It’s all fun and games until someone makes a casual masturbation joke about a little boy that’ll leave you clutching your pearls.)

That said, there are a few consistent bright spots, including party-girl Stephanie’s interactions with DJ’s annoying (sorry!) kids; the original series’ now-twentysomething fans will likely identify with her more than any other character. The true MVP of Fuller House, however, is Barber, whom you’d never guess hasn’t performed on screen in more than 20 years. Though her character remains as clueless as ever, her acting choices are whip-smart and she’s a welcome addition to any scene — especially those that find her sparring with ex-husband Fernando (played by Dallas‘ Juan Pablo Di Pace, a recurring guest star).

The TVLine Bottom Line: Is Fuller House going to be huge? Yes. Will Netflix renew it for a second season? Frankly, I’m surprised it hasn’t already. But will Full House fans invest long-term in a sometimes-funny revival that rests solely on the shoulders of its supporting players? That I’m very curious to see.

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26 Comments
  1. Katie says:

    Katsopolis, not Katsopoli

  2. Luis says:

    “Full House” was never exactly “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” This production is sailing almost entirely on nostalgia. Frankly’ Girl Meets World” spent its whole first season swimming in a river of nostalgia, but they cater to a different demographic.

    • Jared Munson says:

      I don’t think “Girl Meets World’s” first season swam in a river of nostalgia. There were few guest stars from the original series until episode 15, with most popping up in the second season. “Fuller House” seems much more gimmicky in nature

  3. A fan of TV says:

    I’m definitely looking forward to enjoying this peripherally. As long as the grown-ups get to watch DJ and Steve fall in love again I don’t need edgy. It shocked me when my neighbour’s seven-year-old got obsessed with my OS DVDs, and I’m happy for this to be a show that isn’t for my age group, just my nostalgia. I see so much potential for the continuation of the Tanner Family story, and I care about that not whether or not the show would be Emmy-worthy which, to my knowledge, it never was the first time around. Only 11 days to go!

  4. T.w.123 says:

    Ugh, the review sounded EXACTLY like what I hoped the show would be. Nostalgia rooted, but updated enough to be a contemporary of an ABC Family Sitcom (“Melissa & Joey”, “Baby Daddy”, “Young & Hungry”). So, I’m not sure why the “B-” grade? I guess this is an example of to each their own. I have no expectation for Fuller House to be the next Modern Family or blackish. I don’t expect it to be edgy. I want for it to be sweet, and a little mundane. Full House should go down like comfort food, and I’m not sure why anyone would expect anything else?

    • T.w.123 says:

      I will say, I’m happy to hear the good reviews about Andrea Barber/ Kimmy Gibbler! She was the funniest part of the trailer. I’m glad to know that holds up. Can’t believe she hasn’t worked on tv in 2 decades! She had the talent to make it on tv as an adult I think, if she had wanted that for herself.

  5. Falcon says:

    Only thing this review did was sell me on the reboot! I’m ordering in a pizza that night and recreating the TGIF’s of my youth for at least one night. Can’t wait.

  6. Jared Munson says:

    Andy, how do you see this comparing to “Girl Meets World”, the other 90s revival? I feel the demos are similar (now that the original fans are parents), and wonder how you feel it does in relation to that one. Thanks.

  7. Bruce Wayne says:

    GREAT SHOW!

  8. Annie says:

    I don’t know why I’m so on the fence about the show; I was a huge FH fan growing up…but I’m just not feeling it. Probably has a bit to do with the lack of Olsen involvement. I was always a DJ & Kimmie fan, but FH without the Olsens feels like ….. well this season of Castle without Beckett.
    .
    I’ll check it out, if only for my epic love of Kimmie Gibbler and to gaze upon the beauty that is Lori Laughlin and John Stamos

  9. Bill says:

    Marissa Rosenthal is a huge nerd

  10. You shouldn’t assume that this show will only have a 20 something demographic as far as nostalgic adult viewers go. Full House premiered almost 30 years ago. Those of us who watched it during its original run, and who were around the same age as Stephanie (she was my favorite character because she was close to my age), are in our mid 30s now, not 20 somethings. Jodie Sweetin is 34 in real life. 20 somethings could have caught the show during its later seasons in the 90s or in reruns after it stopped airing, but those of us who started to watch the show when it premiered in ’87, are in our 30s or older.

    • Jack says:

      I have a teenage daughter who discovered the show in reruns, and she is just as pumped as her mother to watch the new series. It seems to run the gamut of ages.

    • Jason says:

      I was about to say the same thing. I watched the show since it premeiered and lost interest later in the series. And I’m 38.

  11. Calvin says:

    i love the show watts and the Johnson. To

  12. JW says:

    The house was an awesome knock off except Nicky and Alex’s room. That drove me nuts. It was over by the steps the left on tv and now it’s to the right near where Jessie’s bed was.