Judge David Johnson is blown away by the boundary-pushing comedic force that is John Stamos attempting to change a diaper, and failing.
Our reviews of Full House: The Complete Second Season (published January 11th, 2006), Full House: The Complete Third Season (published April 19th, 2006), Full House: The Complete Fourth Season (published August 23rd, 2006), Full House: The Complete Fifth Season (published February 7th, 2007), Full House: The Complete Sixth Season (published April 25th, 2007), Full House: The Complete Seventh Season (published August 7th, 2007), Full House: The Complete Eighth Season (published November 28th, 2007), and Full House: The Complete Series (published December 12th, 2007) are also available.
Everywhere you look. Everywhere you go. There's a heart. A hand to hold on to.
In 1987, Full House hit the airwaves, and American pop culture would forever feel the shock waves. It catapulted Bob Saget into ABC monarchy, made "Uncle Jesse" a household name, gave Dave Coulier work, and, of course, set the table for the Olsen twins and their eventual dominion over this planet (and the perverse minds of lonely men still living at home).
Facts of the Case
Danny Tanner (Saget, America's Funniest Home Videos) and his three daughters, DJ (Candace Cameron), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and baby Michelle (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Enough Kids' Movies to Fill Radio City Music Hall) are trying to put their lives back together after Mrs. Tanner died a year ago. Since then, the family has been living off the good graces of Danny's mother. But now, things are about to drastically change. Grandma is moving out, and two grown men are moving in to help raise the family. Enter Jesse Cochrane (John Stamos, The Reagans)—the writers eventually changed Uncle Jesse's last name to Katsopolis in the second season)—and Joey Gladstone (Coulier). Jesse is a mullet-sporting, motorcycle-riding, guitar-playing badass, and Joey is a stand-up comic looking for his big break, despite the utter lameness of his jokes. Jesse is Danny's brother-in-law, and Joey is his lifelong best friend.
Now the trio is faced with the monumental task of successfully raising three girls, while balancing their personal lives at the same time and reconciling such challenges as enforcing bedtimes, changing diapers, and resisting the urge to hold band practice in the living room with three young children sleeping upstairs.
Full House ran for eight years and provided the cornerstone for the popular TGIF family-friendly Friday programming that bolstered ABC in the early '90s. This four-disc set features all 22 episodes from Season One, complete with adorable baby faces and relentless Bullwinkle impressions.
Full House is possibly the most sickeningly saccharine, utterly wholesome, inoffensive ball of sappiness ever to be beamed into American households. Once that "valuable life lesson" synth music kicked in at the end of each episode, you knew you were in for a pep talk by Danny or a teary reconciliation between feuding sisters or Uncle Jesse realizing how much he loves his nieces and that casual, wanton sex with strange women may not be all that appropriate while babysitting, all inevitably followed by a hug and a prolonged "AWWWWWWW" from the audience. In fact, it's so over-the-top gushy, the best way to describe it is to take a peek at a snippet of script from the Full House that runs on Bizarro-Earth, where everything is the exact opposite of our planet. That will give you a better understanding of how benevolently and nauseatingly cheesy this show is:
Bizarro Full House, Episode 127: "Body Count"
Scene 1: DJ, STEPHANIE, and MICHELLE are in the kitchen torturing their dog COMET with needle-nosed pliers. UNCLE JOEY bursts through the back door and gunfire erupts behind them.
UNCLE JOEY: Take cover, g**dammit!
STEPHANIE: What the f***?!
[DANNY runs down the stairs, cradling a submachine gun. He tosses a giant revolver to UNCLE JOEY; a lit cigarette dangles from his mouth, and blood is trickling from a wound on his forehead.]
DANNY: Bastard tried to break through the second-floor window. [He removes a red-stained, deadly-looking serrated knife from his pocket and wipes it on a dish towel.] I dropped his head into our neighbor's wading pool.
[UNCLE JESSE suddenly bursts through the door leading to the living room, limping; his right leg is bleeding.]
UNCLE JESSE: Steph, give me that scrunchie. [STEPHANIE hands him her scrunchie and UNCLE JESSE ties it tightly around his leg.] ARRRRGGGGHHHHH! That f***ing hurts!
UNCLE JOEY: What happened?
UNCLE JESSE: I was banging that Vietnamese hooker in the living room when she pulled a shiv on me. Cut my leg up real bad.
DANNY: Where's that b**** now?
UNCLE JESSE: She took off before I could take her out. She definitely went to get more of her friends.
UNCLE JOEY (in a Popeye voice): Motherf***ing son-of-a-b**** piece of s***!
DJ: Dad, what's going on here?
DANNY (kneels down, music plays): Girls, remember when I told you Uncle Joey got into trouble with than new Puerto Rican gang "The Velvet Penetrators"?
STEPH: Yeah, you said he capped one of their asses.
DANNY: Well, there's a valuable life lesson here for us. [The girls stare at their father.] Finish the job!
MICHELLE: F*** yeah, dude!
And scene. Hope that's a helpful illustration.
In these parts, Full House set the '90s gold standard for harmless family fare. As the kids got older, the storylines touched upon "edgier" material—peer pressure, drinking, sibling rivalry in Disney World, winning in a local basketball tournament with Kareem Abdul-Jabaar—but this first season is as easygoing as you can get. The hard-hitting topics include Uncle Jesse feeding the girls chocolate milk well after their bedtime or DJ forgetting to fully cook the Thanksgiving turkey or Danny getting back into the dating game.
This is a show with some staying power. For a marginally funny program nearly two decades old, it seems to be ubiquitous on my television screen. This I think is a testament to the bizarre, almost supernatural appeal it holds. I've always found it strangely watchable, despite (or maybe because of) the oppressive corniness. And there is no disputing that this show is 100% benign. Uncle Jesse let a "What the hell!" rip in one of the episodes and I was stunned.
Six episodes come per disc, and are all in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio of the show. The transfer is serviceable; colors are bright and the picture is devoid of any noticeable flaws. A Dolby Digital 1.0 track provides the sound, and does an okay job of transmitting all that canned laughter and baby gurgling.
Bonus features are sparse, always a disappointment with these retro-TV releases. Two episode commentary tracks are delivered by creator Jeff Franklin, and while he is flush with plenty of trivia (to fool people into thinking Michelle was played by one baby, the producers strung together Mary-Kate and Ashley's names), the lack of any other commentators was noticeable. What about other cast members? You're telling me Jodie Sweetin couldn't find time to sit down for twenty minutes and reminisce? Plus there are no interviews or featurettes on the show; I would have loved to see the old cast members get together and blather on. And they are apparently still close—Candace Cameron was Jodie Sweetin's matron of honor! This last tidbit comes from the only other worthwhile extra, a running trivia track on the episode "The Miracle of Thanksgiving."
Finally, you get the unaired pilot episode, notable only because it features some clown named John Posey as Danny Tanner, prior to Bob Saget's accepting the role. The weirdness of watching a complete stranger pretending to be Danny is, alas, a fleeting novelty.
Brutal, edgy comedy. That's what Charles in Charge looks like when compared to Full House. But it's wholesome, harmless stuff, and your kids will like it, even if you end up cringing so much you pull a jaw muscle.
Not guilty, though the court does feel a little nauseated, like we've all just eaten way too many éclairs.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Trivia Track
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