Saturday, February 1, 2014

Missmediajunkie vs. "Full House"

Thanks to a Superbowl yogurt commercial that reunites the three male stars of "Full House," Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, and John Stamos, there's been wave of nostalgia for the '80s family sitcom that ran for eight years on ABC. Jimmy Kimmel had the trio on a few nights ago for a "Full House" themed sketch. Morning show appearances, interviews, and all the usual media stops have followed. And personally, I'm doing my best to ignore it all. I hated "Full House."

You watch a lot of television as a kid for no better reason than it's on and your parents don't mind that you're watching it. Somehow, "Full House" was ubiquitous in my household, even though I wasn't very fond of it and I distinctly remember that my father couldn't sit through five minutes of any episode without rolling his eyes. For those of you unfamiliar with the program, "Full House" was a sitcom about a recently widowed father, Danny Tanner (Saget), left to raise three young daughters by himself, one of them an infant. So he did the sensible thing and recruited two down-on-their-luck male friends, Uncle Jesse (Stamos) and Uncle Joey (Coulier) to move in with him and help out. And to make sure this situation didn't seem too strange, Danny's co-worker Becky (Lori Loughlin) was always around in some capacity, eventually becoming Uncle Jesse's girlfriend and then spouse. Plots were typical things like trying to save a bad Thanksgiving and the guys trying to balance their love lives with parenting obligations.

"Full House" was the anchor of ABC's TGIF family viewing block, and was meant to be watched by children with their parents, so the stories were always simple, the humor repetitive, and the every story ended with some wholesome family bonding and a pat moral, usually delivered by Danny Tanner to the same "serious moment" musical cue in every single episode. I credit "Full House" for being the show where the schmaltzy formula was so obvious and so lazy that it was the first one that I could identify as being a Bad Show and point out a lot of recurring schtick. Nonetheless, I watched it for years and I remember the plots of many episodes and the names of all the main characters. I wish I remembered so much about "The Cosby Show" or "Family Ties," which I know I was watching in roughly the same time frame. But no, it was "Full House" that somehow stuck.

I can certainly understand the nostalgia that some people have for it. "Full House" was a ratings monster for years and it seemed impossible to avoid. Every kid in school watched it if their parents let them watch television, though I never met anyone who really seemed to be a fan. If there was any comment on it at all among my friends, it was usually to complain that there were too many episodes centered around the youngest daughter Michelle (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen), which were the ones that got really saccharine. I haven't seen the show in years and I'm sure it would probably be totally unwatchable to me now the same way that TGIF's successors, the Disney Channel originals are.

Pop culture seems to have mostly forgotten about "Full House" too, up until this point. John Stamos, Bob Saget, and the Olsen twins have stayed fairly visible in the industry, but avoided sitcom work. Saget has notably become notorious for very adult comedy routines that are a complete 180 from his years as on "Full House" and as the goofy host of "America's Funniest Home Videos." When the show does come up now, it's usually as a target for ridicule, often pretty meanspirited. Despite not liking "Full House," I bear no real ill will towards it. The series was a product of its time, well-meaning in its aims, and pretty harmless. So I don't get much out of the mockery. I'd rather just forget the show existed.

I have seen the Dannon Oikos Greek yogurt ad, which joking alludes to the unorthodox "Full House" living situation, hinting that the trio's "bromance" was more serious than the show lead on. I fail to see how this brief reunion is worthy of all the media attention, but whatever. It seems like every half-forgotten bit of '80s detritus requires some kind of cast reunion these days, and this is at least more amusing than last year's "Ferris Bueller" car ad. And at least they didn't drag the kids into this - Candace Cameron Bure sure doesn't need any more attention. I don't think she'd appreciate the gay-friendly overtones anyway.

But between this and the "Boy Meets World' spinoff, it looks like the nostalgia wave is hitting the TGIF generation full force. I guess we'd better brace ourselves for the inevitable return of "Mr. Belvedere," "Perfect Strangers," "Step By Step," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and - gulp - Urkel.

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