WHAT IT’S ABOUT D.J. Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure) is a veterinarian and mother of three boys — Jackson (Michael Campion), 12; Max (Elias Harger), 7; and baby Tommy (twins Dashiell and Fox Messitt). She’s also widowed. That sobering reality pervades the Girard Street house, which dad Danny (Bob Saget) has put up for sale. D.J. needs help, and a little love, which she gets when (almost) the whole gang turns up, including: sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), bestie Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), Joey (Dave Coulier), Rebecca (Lori Loughlin) and of course Jesse (John Stamos). Meanwhile, D.J.’s prayers are about to be answered.
MY SAY It may be best not to ask critics about the enduring appeal of “Full House.” When that ABC hit left the air in May 1995, scarcely any appreciations ran in newspapers. Nonbelievers from the beginning anyway, they were on to other infinitely cooler things, and so were the networks — then preoccupied with a newer, edgier type of comedy that spoke to The Way Young Adults Live Now. “Friends” was hot. “Full House” was not.
With its atavistic heart and soul — and corn-fed values straight out of “The Brady Bunch” — “Full House” was roadkill on primetime’s superhighway. Goodbye, good riddance, and onward to a glorious TV future! Or at least onward to “Grace Under Fire.”
You now know the punchline — “Fuller House” arrives as the most anticipated reboot since TV’s current reboot frenzy began, and is even one of the major arrivals of 2016. Appraisals are irrelevant: This will be a hit, if only because old friendships must be rekindled, along with emotions too deep for words — even if those words are “cut it OUT!,” and “You got it, dude.”
Of those emotions and their wellspring, a generation — now in its 30s — literally grew up with the “Full House” security blanket. A hyperbaric chamber of good vibes and good feelings, every episode began with the smallest of challenges, and ended with the biggest of group hugs. The kids were cute and dad, or dads — JesseJoeyDanny — even cuter. No one ever got hurt. Lessons were always learned. Love was invariably dispensed along with hugs. The series was in fact stalked by a distant and never-quite-forgotten tragedy even before it began — the death of Danny Tanner’s wife — but each episode represented a small triumph over that. Fans — true-blue fans — never stopped loving “Full House.”
That’s “Fuller House’s” enormous advantage, also its enormous challenge. Bring back something this beloved only at your own risk. The opener, “Our Very First Show, Again,” scores a direct hit on lingering doubts. It’s one big Easter egg filled with lots of smaller Easter eggs. Gibbler’s still Gibbler, D.J. still “Deej.” When someone says Michelle — Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, of course — couldn’t make it back to San Francisco because of her fashion career, the entire cast turns to the studio audience, and affects a mock frown. The audience roars.
Otherwise, it’s back to the house on Girard Street, that place where everyone knows everyone’s name — and what everyone says before they even say it. Joey: “Before we eat, I’ve got something important to say . . . Damn, we all look good, especially me.” Or D.J., going to a line Dan might’ve used — maybe even did, with modifications — 29 years ago: “I have three boys who count on me for everything. My husband died doing what he loved — fighting fires and helping people. He’d want me to be strong.”
D.J. will be strong, you can count on that, but she needs a helping hand, or hands. You can count on that, too.
The opener’s a reunion show, but also a reset button. The girls, now women, move in with D.J. A generational shift takes place, and sitcom history repeats itself. Think of “Fuller House” as “Full House 2.0.” Same premise, same vibe, mostly same cast.
Mostly, not all, and that real risk presents itself soon enough. In subsequent episodes (a total of six for review), Danny, Rebecca, Joey and Jesse disappear, or turn up sporadically. “Fuller House” is the D.J., Stephanie and Kimmy show. They may be all grown up, still full of the same old whimsical charm. But they have a franchise to carry on by themselves now. My hunch: They can.
BOTTOM LINE A winner, strictly for fans.