Throughout most of the '90s, ABC referred to its family friendly Friday night line up as TGIF and for many seasons Full House was its anchor show. It may have fallen into the "all problems fixed in 30 minutes or less" sitcom formula, but it delivered light-hearted entertainment I could let my children watch without fear a line would be crossed or a cuss would be uttered.
The premise was three daughters being raised by three men (their father, his brother-in-law and his best friend) and often looked at pertinent issues involving single parenthood and non-traditional families. The sugar sweet episodes always came with an Aesop fable type moral. Two of the episodes tackling tough issues included in this four disc set are "Shape Up" and "Slumber Party."
In "Shape Up" DJ (Candace Cameron) begins skipping meals so she can fit into a bikini for her best friend Kimmy's (Andrea Barber) pool party. The episode not only focuses on the obvious dangers of not eating and over exerting which can lead to serious eating disorders, but the hiding and lying involved in covering up the behavior. When Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) can no longer keep the secret, the adults, led by the girls' father (Bob Saget) move in to remedy the situation and inform DJ as well as the young girls watching the show the super-model body image is unrealistic and unhealthy.
"Slumber Party" is one of the many episodes over the eight season run dealing with the loss of the girls' mother; in this case, Stephanie's Honey Bee pack is having a mother/daughter sleepover. Through love, understanding, and the obligatory parent figure/child discussion the message families come in all shapes and forms is delivered with sensitivity and care. Though sometimes corny, those requisite adult/child talks were a back bone of the series and sent out the positive message to the young viewers. It let them know they can and should trust the adults in their lives and talk to them when they get in over their head or are dealing with tough situations.
Though most of the episodes have a family friendly moral, they weren't all has weighty as the above mentioned episodes. Even so there was always plenty of fun and lighthearted playfulness. In "Secret Admirer" an unsigned love note kept all the characters drawing the wrong (side-splitting) conclusions and in "Happy New Year" Joey (Dave Coulier) looks for love via a video dating service.
In season four, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen (the actresses who shared the roll of Michele from the time they were nine months old until the show ended) were old enough to handle a bit more meaty dialogue which only added the sugar sweet cuteness factor. At times I may have felt like I would need an insulin shot to get through, but it was (and still is) Michele's charm and off the cuff dialogue that made the character and show appeal to children. Whether they saw a bit of themselves or were just attracted to the unpretentious simplicity, the show was one a generation grew up on.
Other highlights from season four include Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) and Rebecca (Lori Laughlin) getting married and the final episode of the season, "Rock the Cradle" finds them expecting a baby. This turn made the show even more focused on family values and the house even fuller as Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky chose not to move out after their marriage.
As most of the previous seasons Full House The Complete Fourth Season has no extras, a bit disappointing as over the eight years the show ran they must have acquired plenty of outtake footage that could have been included or even a "Where they are Now" piece would have been a nice bonus. All in all though, it is a nice collection of family friendly entertainment and will be enjoyed by all who grew up on the show or watched our kids obsess over it.