I am not ashamed to admit it. In the late '80s I was a fan of Full House. It began its eight season run in 1987 when I was just seven years old. While slow to get rolling in the ratings, this little girl was instantly drawn in by the happy family of three daughters, a widower father, and two uncles all living under one San Franciscan roof.
Let us not kid ourselves. It is treacly, over the top, and often downright sappy. But really, isn’t that what kids, especially young girls, love? Maybe things have changed, but the world of television was still a pretty pure place in the twilight years of ABC’s "TGI Friday" block of viewing. It was fun to watch DJ (Candace Cameron) tackle her kissing problems, or Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin of more recent Pants Off, Dance Off fame) struggle with school. And more importantly, it was downright dreamy to watch one of my earliest crushes, John Stamos, parade around with his perfect Uncle Jesse hair.
About a third of the way through its successful run, Full House made it into the Nielsen Top 30 and stayed there pretty consistently. I stopped watching when I entered middle school, and despite its complete accessibility thanks to syndication, have not watched it since. I could sing you the theme song in a heartbeat, though.
So it was with great nostalgia that I sat down to watch the seventh season of Full House, out this week on Warner Brothers Entertainment. Twenty-four squeaky clean episodes featuring the original cast of characters, plus a few more. It runs a lengthy 572 minutes of comedy that really is, especially in comparison to sitcoms today, completely family friendly.
Season seven is thought by many to be the last good season of the show. Season eight was plagued by budget cuts, talk of the show moving to the upstart WB, and an abrupt cancellation. It finds the Tanners facing new challenges (DJ’s boyfriend has his own apartment!), Uncle Jesse and his wife Becky raising their twin sons (and have to learn to tell them no!), and the dating troubles of family patriarch Danny and Uncle Joey.
The thing I was most struck by in watching this show again, now as a 27-year-old, was how well Bob Saget plays the mega-straight-laced Danny Tanner. He should be laughable, but is actually quite endearing. He is believable both as a concerned and over-protective father, but also as a datable man. Probably not an easy combination to nail when you’re also playing an obsessive compulsive neat freak.
To be honest, though, it was as I expected. The show is so bigger than life with all of its jokes that it makes the whole thing hard to take as an adult. I could do completely without the character of Joey Gladstone, as he is the biggest offender when it comes to predictable but unfunny jokes and painful-to-watch physical gags.
Season seven is one of the seasons that features the most storylines revolving around youngest Tanner daughter Michelle, famously played by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. While the plots are cute (Michelle scores on the wrong goal during her first soccer game or Michelle steals a pet bunny from summer camp), I was a little surprised by the Olsens' forced acting and relative un-cuteness. I remember them being adorable. But in this season, they are hugely upstaged by the lovable Blake and Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit, who play Nicky and Alex Katsopolis.
It is clear as season seven draws to a close that the producers and writers were struggling to come up with fresh ideas. Many of the same morals seem to be replayed and the episode entitled “To Little Richard Too Late” is totally unwatchable as Michelle’s school art program gets cut and Joey runs for PTA president. Please, Dave Coulier, “cut … it … out.” Sorry, couldn’t resist.
All in all, though, if you are a diehard fan of this show, you might enjoy the DVD. Be aware, there are no special features to be had, which is a bit of a disappointment. I think the whole thing would have benefited from a few cast interviews or behind the scenes footage. And if you aren’t up for two dozen episodes, I recommend keeping an eye out for the ones titled “Tough Love” and “Love on the Rocks.” They are by far some of the best of the series.