Tuesday, February 23, 2016


It’s tough to say who’s having a harder time letting go of their 80s/90s television obsessions, the network executives who keep remaking/updating/sequeling classic shows, or the fans who can’t get enough of them.

Star Trek is on its umpteenth reboot, with yet another one announced for a new voyage on CBS. Boy Meets World begat Girl Meets World for the Disney Channel, The X-Files is still searching for the truth somewhere out there on FOX (where they last left it), and 21st Century versions of Twin Peaks, MacGyver, Gilmore Girls, 24, and even Tales From the Crypt are in the production pipeline.

In the meantime, there’s Fuller House, a sequel to the TGIF hit, Full House, which ran on ABC from 1987 to 1995. That show featured three men – dad, uncle and best friend – moving in together to raise three, catch-phrase spouting little girls (four, if you count that the baby was twins; both of whom can now buy and sell every other cast-member). The Netflix series, premiering on February 26, 2016, is a Bizarro mirror world, where three women – mom, aunt and best friend – move in together to raise three little boys (catch-phrases pending). There’s also a teen-age girl. Presumably to prove this isn’t a carbon copy but a re-imagining.

When a teaser was released this past December, featuring literally a generic shot of the Gold Gate Bridge, cable cars, the front door to a house, an empty kitchen, an empty living room with a checkered couch in the center, a dog and some disembodied voices, it quickly became the streaming services’ most-watched original series trailer ever

Full House made its debut at the tail end of the Reagan era. It actually came out two months prior to the mega-movie hit, Three Men and a Baby, meaning neither was so much a blatant copy as one of those uninspired Hollywood coincidences that periodically cause several properties to simultaneously tackle volcanoes that bury cities, asteroids that threaten Earth, and teen-agers switching bodies with adults.

The main gag in both the feature film and the sitcom was Men Can’t Take Care of Babies! Now laugh!

Each spot-lighted diapers falling off adorable (and suspiciously clean) baby butts, food being spewed and/or flung with Hall of Fame precision into surprised faces, and hapless dads/surrogate dads utterly overwhelmed by basic tasks that have kept the human race from dying out lo these many millennia.

The Fuller House trailer offered the same front door, and the same kitchen and living room – now filled with familiar faces and the observation, “Damn, we all still look good!” They also checked the box on generic 90s catch-phrases – “All that and a bag of chips,” “Talk to the hand,” Oh, snap,” “You go, girl,” and “Stop, Hammer Time” are rattled off in quick succession, as if they’re afraid of forgetting one – as well as show-specific ones, including, “Have mercy,” “How rude!” and “You got it, dude!” There are multiple group hugs featuring both children and adults. Also, fear not, a baby does giggle adorably while throwing food smack into the face of his aunt (who happens to be wearing white).

The big question about whether or not Fuller House will be able to capture the magic and fan affection of the original comes down to this: When men are shown being incompetent in taking care of children, it’s adorable. They get a studio audience “awww” just for trying. (Same as male teachers do). After all, they’re men. Men don’t have to take care of (their own) kids. And they certainly aren’t obliged to take an interest in other people’s offspring. The fact that they’re willing to pitch in like this just shows how enlightened, noble and generous they are. Results aren’t the point. Participation trophies for everyone!

Read about why this might be a problem for Fuller House, here.

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