‘Fuller House’ regrettably looks to the past to improve its equally cheesy present

At this point in time, it’s weird to admit that ‘Fuller House’ exists. It’s in every way an extension of ‘Full House’ with the same roles it had, though they’ve shifted to new and returning actors. Netflix picked the show up as a reasonable nostalgia play, as seems to be one of their methods of putting series out. ‘Fuller House’ is always one step away from seeming like too much; a pitch that went too far. It’s not surprising to say that the show leans heavily on the past, while there is a little to admire about its present.

‘Fuller House’ sees the return of the Tanner family and friends, with every major actor returning in the same roles, except for the Olson twins, a fact that is actually lampooned in the first episode. The family is still under the same roof, acting the same way, even if they’ve grown up. This leads quickly to some nice moments but no real depth for most of the cast. Sure, Stephanie Tanner is now a DJ named “DJ Tanner,” and while that is actually a pretty neat joke, the first episode is full of references to the past that draw applause from the studio audience, who seem eager to laugh and clap at pretty much anything.

The majority of the first episode spends time on where the family has been. Danny Tanner is no longer the co-lead on ‘Wake Up, San Francisco,’ rather he is taking another job in Los Angeles on ‘Wake Up USA.’ Jesse is now a composer for ‘General Hospital,’ and Joey is, predictably, a Vegas comedian. It’s fun to see returning characters end up where they do, but the attempts to make them seem progressed don’t work as well as they should. Instead, the show tries to sway attention to D.J., Stephanie, and their childhood friend, Kimmy. Throughout the episode, they slowly assume the same roles that Bob Saget, John Stamos, and David Coulier had on ‘Full House,’ respectively.

This aspect of the show comes off as lazy and cheap, basically relying on the same roles as ‘Full House’ did, which makes one wonder why ‘Fuller House’ even exists in the first place. All three women are now grown up, and by the end of the episode, all live in the Tanner house together. D.J. is a mom juggling many responsibilities, Stephanie is a world-traveling DJ, and Kimmy is… just there.

Despite this basic premise, the actresses are still all great together, and if there’s one thing the show gets right, it’s the chemistry between them and the entire cast. Stamos, in particular, hasn’t missed a beat, giving the same cool guy delivery to his lines. The only weak link in the cast is the man who drew in so many viewers all those years ago: Bob Saget. Saget simply seems like he doesn’t want to be there, blandly saying his lines with an awkward gait. He’s the only cast member who seems disenchanted with the whole affair. It’s almost depressing to see him return to character with no new approach on how to play him, seeing that he did so with such enthusiasm during ‘Full House.’

'Fuller House’ embraces what it knows, and the writers have found a way to divert something fresh. This series is for a specific kind of audience, one that already appreciated what ‘Full House’ did when it was originally on or was syndicated. In any case, what turns up is a lackluster retelling of an already plain story, just without the same spark of heart that was present in ‘Full House.’ Perhaps the series comes into its own during later episodes, but sadly the first episode is a ho-hum debut.