Full House (1987-1995)
Fuller House (2016- )
Type: Spin Off
Might not be cool to say but Fuller House has to be one of the most successful revivals of a classic show ever. It manages to avoid all the pitfalls that usually bring a revival low.
Full House was THE family sitcom of its day, the way before it The Brady Bunch was for its era, or Leave It To Beaver was for its. It told the story of a non-traditional traditional family. Danny Tanner was a recently widowed father of three daughters. Danny's brother-in-law Joey and his best friend Joey moved into his San Francisco home to help him raise the three girls - DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle. Fun and sitcom family warmth ensued.
Cut to 2016 and the internet streaming network Netflix decided to revive the show with a new version called Fuller House. Fuller House found oldest daughter DJ now a widowed mother of three boys. Danny Tanner was about to move to L.A. and decided that instead of selling his house he'd let DJ live there and raise her boys. Her sister Stephanie and her best friend Kimmy Gibler (also from the original series) decided to move in and help her raise her boys. Oh! Kimmy also added her own daughter to the mix.
Amazingly, to my mind, they did everything right with show avoiding all the missteps other similar show reboots make.
Quite often with a revival like this it all starts with a reunion TV movie. A Very Brady Christmas and the new Knight Rider come to mind. People go ape and then the TV network airing the movie go, "Holy crap! We got great ratings! Lets bring this back as a full fledged series!" They then spend six months to a year prepping the series and by the time it hits the air nobody cares. The nostalgia factor has ebbed. Lightning in the bottle gone. Fuller House hit the ground running. No starter movie. Netflix launched right into the series so there was no period of time for excitement to drop. And being on Netflix further aids in this. Being asked to come back week after week for a new episode can also cause a falloff in viewer interest. But Netflix is built for binge viewing. It turns TV shows into the equivalent of potato chips. If you want to take your time watching them over weeks, great. But if you can't eat... watch just one you can watch them all in one go.
THE ORIGINAL CAST STILL LOOKING GOOD
Another issue with revivals can be the cast. You have Knight Rider where they mostly recast the show from the original. Or there's Leave It To Beaver where the revival brought back the original cast but it was weird. I mean, the Leave It To Beaver revival did run quite awhile but it was hardly a huge cultural phenomena. Jerry Mathers first off did not age super great. On top of that watching a middle aged man named Beaver still using mannerisms he had when he was 7 was... odd. But Fuller House brought back the original players and they all looked good! And could still bring it acting-wise (not always the case with child stars all grown up).
NOT TOO FULL A HOUSE
A lot of times with revivals where the original cast returns the producers feel the need to bring everybody back as regulars. With family shows this can't instantly make thing unwieldy. Look at the Brady Bunch revival The Bradys. The original show was about a family with two parents, six kids and a maid. The Bradys tried to keep all those characters as regulars while also having to deal with additional characters like wives, kids, bosses, etc. for each character. It's no wonder The Bradys had to be an hour long show. Likewise the Leave It To Beaver revival had to deal with Wally, Beaver, their friends, all of their kids, wives... It becomes too much. Fuller House made a wise move in this regard. The entire original cast, minus the Olsen Twins, returned for the first episode. But after that the primary returning cast was paired down to DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy. Other previous regulars and recurring characters were then just used in guest appearances as needed. So Uncle Jessie pops up in an episode, then Danny Tanner, then Jessie's wife Becky, and on and on. It kept things sane and made the guest appearances of characters more of an event. "Oh! Look who's in this one!"
THE PREMISE REMAINS THE SAME
A lot of the time with revivals of old shows the new show starts off with a different premise. Sometimes this is necessary because where the characters are in their life demand it, sometimes someone writing the thing got drunk. Again I point to The Brady Bunch. The Brady Bunch had several revivals none of which reflected the premise of the original show. The Brady Bunch was about a single mom with three daughters and a single dad with three sons creating a blended family. The first revival of the show The Brady Bunch Variety Hour had the family inexplicably being given a variety show. Weird and clearly not in line with the original show's main thrust. Then came The Brady Brides. They tried to keep things closer to the original here with Jan and Marsha both getting married and both couples moving into the old Brady house. Similar in tone, still about family but also different. Not mom, dad, and kids but instead a couples comedy. Then came The Bradys which was an hour long dramady covering all sorts of territory but definitely not a family sitcom.
Fuller House kept to the original premise to a degree I don't think I've seen before in a continuation of an old show. The original was about a single dad, his brother-in-law, and his wacky friend living together and raising three girls. Fuller House was about a single mom, her sister, and her wacky friend living together and raising three boys (and a girl). The kids ages are even pretty much the same. Oddly I think the Olsen Twins not returning I think helped make the plot parallels stronger. I think if the character of Michelle had returned the intent was for her to be the third woman in the house instead of Kimmy. But Kimmy being the third creates a match for the wacky friend Michelle would not have.
DON'T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
Fuller House also did a nice job of feeling easy going and fun. I don't know how else to say it. The show had a fun sense of humor about itself, fully aware of what it was. It constantly makes jokes about itself and its cast in a way that is charming and doesn't undermine things. With the Olsen Twins out there were constant jokes about them and their absence. It is explained that Michelle is in New York working on her fashion line, much as the Olsen's have their own line of clothes. In another episode Kimmy's daughter buys Olsen Twins clothes and she comments on how pricey they are. There are also references to how lame reunion shows are, cast member Dave Coulier's relationship with Alanis Morissette and her basing a song on him... Just constant jabs at themselves that added to the show.
I think I am more surprised than anyone to be raving abut Fuller House. I didn't watch the Full House a whole lot. But damn if they didn't do a really good job updating it.Other Full House Crossover Links
Full House and Family Matters
Full House and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper
Click here to return to main Crossover List
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