STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $29.98 RATED: NR
RUNNING TIME: 547 Minutes
• Unaired Pilot
• Commentary on two episodes
• Trivia subtitled text on one episode

I love sugary, family sitcoms. Love’em. Growing Pains is still one of my favorite shows. I can pop on The Cosby Show, Family Ties or Brotherly Love right now and laugh with the laugh track. However, somewhere around the end of Growing Pains and the middle of Boy Meets World a whole host of new family comedies spring up that I missed. Maybe I was too busy watching Moesha and Sister, Sister, but I completely missed most of ABC’s TGIF line up, including Full House.

This review brought to you by the two worst fashion trends ever. The Vest and the Mullet.

Of course I saw Full House in syndication a million times over with my wife, who is a huge fan (or “Househead”, as she likes to call herself), but the moment had passed. I didn’t quite get it. Put My Two Dads on and I’d watch every episode. Add a third dad and John Stamos’s hair and… I was lost. Maybe it’s because Full House surpasses the safe boundaries of sugary family sitcom and goes straight for nauseating family sitcom. Seriously, the lines are so contrived at times you wonder if this whole gig is a one big parody of itself.

The Show

The show has your basic sitcom premise. Danny’s (Bob Saget) wife dies so he asks his friend (Dave Coulier) and former brother-in-law (John Stamos) to move in with him and help him take care of his three daughters. Love, laughter, and tears follow as the family begins to congeal (and that’s just for the viewer).

I tried this once. But I was standing the other way. I learned that day why fans come with warning labels.

What is interesting about the show (especially after watching the first season in-depth and seeing where it ultimately goes throughout its eight years on TV) is that the starring roles really change. I only know this because my “househead” wife tells me this. I swear.

For instance, if you were to take an “average” episode from anywhere in the series you would notice no real main star. The meat of any given episode is even dispersed over the cast. Focus may be given to the original six, but even series newcomers get juicy bits on any given episode. And of course, the impeccable fan favorite Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) begins to steal the spotlight in later seasons.

I hate it when I go limp too.

This formula wasn’t developed by the first season. First of all there is definitely a star focus to the show – Stamos. Most of the episodes revolve around him, his hair and a desperate attempt to launch his singing career. (I have no doubt that if this show were running today Disney would launch a John Stamos CD and blatantly plug it on the show.) Even if another character is given a plotline, it usually revolves around his/her relationship with Uncle Jesse. Interesting side note—Jesse’s last name in Season 1 is Cochran, which was changed to “Katsopolis” before Season 2. Apparently Stamos wanted to play homage to his Greek heritage.

As the star of the show Stamos does a good job. His character is rather limited as a motorcycle-riding, girl-chasing, rock-and-roll playing Elvis freak, which is why I think they went with more of a cast approach as the seasons went on. But, for an initial offering he does a good job at carrying the workload for the show. The few genuinely funny moments (i.e. – not the forced, canned, schmaltzy laugher of family shows) come from Jesse’s dead-pan quips. As the series goes on the producers still try to launch his professional singing career to no avail. Maybe, like David Hasselhoff, he is big in Germany. I don’t know.

This won’t be the last time an Olsen has a fleshy object in her mouth.

When the producers aren’t trying to launch the Stamos music career, they are putting serious stock into Dave Coulier’s future in stand-up comedy. That wacky Uncle Joey gets his fair share of screen time doing Bullwinkle and Pee-Wee Herman impressions. Maybe in real life Coulier is a funny guy, but not so much in the squeaky-clean, nauseating family programming.

Another detriment to what would become the formula for all Full House episodes was that the Olsens were NOT the cute kids. Truth be told they are among the ugliest babies ever put on film. Honest. They may have grown up all cute (if not slightly anorexic) but as babies… eek. These two got the gig because 1) there were two of them and 2) they had great facial expressions. They were good sports too, how would you like Dave Coulier slobbering all over you? (Hold the Alanis jokes.)

Remember when MTV showed videos? Even the dumb ones were entertaining.

Instead Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie) had to carry the cute kid responsibilities herself. She does surprisingly well. As the series goes on she becomes annoying filler, but in the first season she is the cute factor. She has a mop of curly blonde hair and a lispy voice that sounds like Sally from the Peanuts TV specials, which is the recipe for a guaranteed hit with Volvo-driving soccer moms.

Another constant theme (besides the Stamos singing career) is a sense of loss. Danny’s wife dies shortly before the show – thus leaving him to raise three daughters by himself. As such a few episodes deal with the first time Danny/the Tanner family deals with something that his wife would have been involved in. This gives a few episodes a very heavy-handed emotional core. For instance, the kids don’t react well to the first Thanksgiving without their mom. Naturally there is a “Danny’s first Date” episode too. Again a somber tone takes over the show, and at times the wallowing about the late Pam Tanner is downright depressing.

As for the show itself… it is a cheesy, family sitcom. Every episode is resolved with a meaningful life lesson and family hug. It falls somewhere between Saved By The Bell and Growing Pains in the cheese department. This set contains 22 episodes and there are quite a few good ones. Among the better ones are:

“Our Very First Show” – which was a retread of the unaired pilot.

“Our Very First Night” – which is the first Operation Launch Stamos music career episode.

“Sea Cruise” – which highlights the best of 80s fashion (and a Susanna Hoffs look-alike!)

“Jesse’s Girl” – Hey, “Cut It Out” a girl picks Joey over Jesse. The horror.

“Just One of the Guys” – featuring the acting powerhouse that is Kirk Cameron.

“DJ Tanner’s Day Off” – Rather lackluster as far as a season finale goes, but an appearance by Stacey Q reminds us of other forgotten 80s-flash-in-the-pans.

“So next time we’re going to try it with our clothes off. I promise, you won’t drown."

After watching this set I guess my impression of the show has changed somewhat. It is more enjoyable (in a cheesy sense) than I gave it credit for. I still won’t place it in the pantheon of cheesy family sitcoms along side Family Ties or Just the 10 of Us, but only a chosen few get that honor.

7 out of 10

Divorce is ugly when parents fight over the kids.

The Look

There are some TV shows that really maximize the look. They try to give the audience a superior visual experience as part of the show. Full House is not one of those shows.

There is nothing wrong with the look. It looks the exact same as it does on ABC Family or wherever the reruns are playing. Though the time period speaks for itself—the clothes and hair are RAD!

6 out of 10

No one told John Stamos that Bill Campbell got the part.

The Noise

The TGIF classic Full House is presented in glorious Dolby Digital 1.0. Anything more would be an insult to your sound system.

6 out of 10

reading good
“Come on… sound it out. You can do it. Tttthhhhhhhheee. That’s right The. Good job. Now let’s try the next one."

The Goodies

This set isn’t loaded with extras, but seriously, did you expect it to be? There are two average commentaries and another semi-average subtitle commentary.

The only thing of substance is the unaired Pilot episode which is fantastic. It gives you a great viewpoint at how crucial casting is. I had never been a big fan of Bob Saget as Danny Tanner until watching the pilot where he isn’t Danny Tanner. Instead John Posey plays Danny and is horrid. Not so much as Posey is bad, but he isn’t Danny Tanner. More to the point he doesn’t connect with anyone in the cast, kid or adult. Watching the pilot lets the viewer witness why executive casting decisions are made.

7 out of 10

“Yeah baby. You come here often? HA! You get it? Baby? HA. See, because you’re a baby… crap, I can’t even pick up a toddler."

The Artwork

Not bad. Nothing too risky here, just a splash of headshots. I am actually somewhat shocked that Warner didn’t throw a giant picture of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen onto the cover and make everyone else seem like window dressing. Though there is one mighty disturbing inside picture of Stamos glowering sexily at an infant Olsen twin—I’m hoping he got a sneak preview from God of what she’d look like at 18.

6 out of 10

Overall: 6.4 out of 10