Warner Bros. // 1987 // 4528 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 12th, 2007
Everywhere you look, dude.
Here it is, the whole shebang, all eight seasons of the smash hit family-friendly sitcom that powered ABC's Friday night cheeseball lineup, assembled here in all its moral-learning, toddler-fawning, Stamos-rocking glory.
Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) is a single dad, trying to bounce back after his beloved wife passed away, leaving him with three feisty daughters to look after: DJ (Candace Cameron), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and the so-cute-it's-dry-heave-inducing runt of the litter Michelle (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen). What is a hapless, obsessive-compulsive host of a low-rated local morning show to do? Ask two grown men to move in with him, of course!
Enter floundering comedian Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier) and leather-clad wannabe rock musician Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos). And there's your Full House. Over the course of eight sappy seasons, Danny, Uncles Jesse and Joey, DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle, and eventually Jesse's wife Rebecca (Lori Loughlin), their irritating spawn, and the inimitable Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), our primetime non-traditional family will encounter adventures and trials and tribulations that will make even the most jaded viewer of Growing Pains convulse with saccharine glee.
I respect Full House. A lot, actually. It appealed to a certain demographic, served its purpose, and was executed well throughout its eight-season run. What was that demographic? Families, clergy, young kids, goldfish, perhaps. Its purpose? To provide inoffensive, unchallenging humor and family situations to its viewers, never pushing shows much harder than Kimmy's struggle with drinking or DJ succumbing to peer pressure or Steph dealing with a bully or Uncle Jesse's resistance to commitment. The storylines were about as sterile as you could get on primetime; I'd be willing to bit there was harder content in the commercial breaks.
But you know what, I'm fine with that. In fact, I think it's just swell. Sure Full House is often cringe-inducing in its corniness and those episode-culminating Valuable Life Lessons set to Muzak grew more and more terrifying as the series advanced in seasons, but I'd be lying if I didn't think the show was at least a little watchable and, back in the day, well before my innocent eyes had been raped by crap like Entrails of a Virgin, hugely watchable.
Full House managed to work that special mojo that similarly cheesy shows utilized (ahem, Saved by the Bell) to generate this watchability: the cast. There's just something about those Tanners. A quirky, sort of dull bunch for sure, but the casting department got it right when they assembled this nucleus. Eventually, this show, like others running on creative fumes, pumped some new blood into the mix, and, like characters from other shows (ahem, Tori), these additions had the opposite effect. As charismatic as John Stamos and Uncle Jesse were, Lori Loughlin's Rebecca was an anchor all throughout the series, constantly overselling jokes and changing the damn color of her hair. Not surprisingly, the fruit of her (fictional) loins, the Katsopolis twins, obviously brought in to fill the precocious rugrat void left by a growing pair of Olsen twins, were TV death.
I don't dispute that Danny Tanner's pep talks were brutal or Uncle Joey's ceaseless Popeye impressions were grating or Jesse's eight-hair-jokes-per-episode were tiresome, but those three guys had chemistry and are the main reason for the show's success in my opinion. Some people might say that it was Michelle's lovable "You got it dude!" shenanigans that won the heart of Middle America, but someone needs to play the straight man to those gags.
What else? Ah, yes the compelling DJ-Steph relationship. Not the relationship of their characters on the show, but rather the contrast of Candace Cameron's and Jodie Sweetin's cuteness quotient as they aged. In the early years, DJ was pudgy, awkward-looking, and irritating where as her little sister was cute, blonde, and spunky. But as the seasons ticked by, Candace Cameron slowly morphed into a neo-con babe with a bob and a thing for bikers and Steph jumped feet first into an awkward phase that didn't earn many Tiger Beat covers. The good news is both actresses seemed to have put it together nicely these days, so that's a relief. An added trivia note: Andrea Barber never appeared to break the 75-pound barrier during the series run. Wow, was this a waste of a paragraph or what?
Is there anything further to add that you don't already know? Full House is syrupy moralizing at its finest, a show that spawned a host of familiar faces (and a lucrative original Lifetime movie career for Candace Cameron), which, while objectively corny in almost lethal way, managed to stay afloat for eight seasons, for, I think good reasons: say what you will, but Full House knew what it was, kept the formula the same through its multitude of episodes, mainly stocked the sets with likable characters, and single-handedly broke the "Awwwwwww" button on the laugh track many, many times. For families that missed out on the harmless wackiness in the late '80s and want to enjoy the Tanner adventures afresh, have at it.
As for me, I already logged in the hours and now its time to move along to edgier fare, like Sesame Street or the greatest hits of the Snuggles commercials.
This complete series set is essentially all the discs from individuals releases repackaged in a nifty house-shaped cardboard box. Shows are transferred in their original full-frame, 2.0 stereo broadcast format. The cumulative extras re pretty sad: a trivia track on Season One, the unaired pilot, more trivia on Season Two, a brief "Top Ten Rules of Parenting" featurette, Joey impersonations, and a Season Three montage, and that's where the bonus materials dry up.
I have to call out the finale, a two-parter where Michelle gets amnesia. Ugh.
Stay classy, Tanners. Stay classy.
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 4528 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Unaired Pilot
* Review - Season 1
* Review - Season 2
* Review - Season 3
* Review - Season 4
* Review - Season 5
* Review - Season 6
* Review - Season 7
* Review - Season 8