'Fuller House' review: When '90s nostalgia goes wrong

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Candace Cameron Bure Takes on Stunts on "Fuller House"


It's still unclear exactly who was clamoring for an update on early '90s ABC sitcom "Full House," but in this age of nostalgia-fueled greenlighting anything is up for grabs.

And so we have "Fuller House," which employs excessive contrivances to put newly widowed mother-of-three D.J. Fuller (nee Tanner, played still by Candace Cameron Bure) into the plush San Francisco townhouse in which she grew up. Seriously, I'm starting to think that house, or at least the lineage of Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) is cursed — the premise of the original having also hinged on a dead spouse.

But don't worry, our newly single mom is not alone. Soon enough younger sister and supposedly globe-trotting DJ Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Stweetin) is moving in to help with her three kids (Michael Campion, Elias Harger and Dashiell and Fox Messitt — because of course there are twins playing a baby).

Meet "Fuller House" Newcomers: DJ & Kimmy's Kids

The show has its problems — many of them, in fact — but the biggest seems to be its approach to tone. It wants to be a warm and fuzzy throwback comedy, complete with laughs and awws from a studio audience — a first for Netflix. But it also wants to trade on the winking meta-humor that's risen to the top of the comedy heap in the years since the original show went off the air. Those two impulses make for an awkward and unpleasant balance.

There are so many self-satisfied references to the off-screen lives of the stars and what's happened to them in the intervening years, you might sometimes think you're watching a "Saturday Night Live" skit version of the show. The most egregious is dealt with early on in the first episode, when the absence of Michelle Tanner (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) is explained away, followed by a slow group turn to the camera for some laughter- and applause-rewarded fourth wall breaking.

Such moments would be fine if the show didn't so often want to shift gears into the sappy heartstring-pulling and lesson-learning more standard to traditional sitcoms. Gears a lot on "Fuller House" — and they grind.

The other big problem with the show is the Gibbler factor. In place of an Uncle Joey (Dave Coulier), D.J.'s childhood best friend — and the original show's Urkel — Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), moves in along with her daughter, Ramona (Soni Bringas) to help D.J. raise her kids — though the fact that this adds yet another kid to mix that needs taking care of goes unaddressed. Math is hard, after all.

Gibbler as a character and Barber's channeling of her have not gotten any less grating in the intervening years, though Jeff Franklin and Co. seem to think she's what audiences are really here for. Wackiness ensues, and it's exhausting.

All in all, it's unclear who the audience for this series is supposed to be or why Netflix went ahead with it, aside from the fact that it sounds like something grown-ups who grew up on the show would be into — in theory, at least. In practice, it's just a stark example of how nostalgia looks best at a hazy distance.

Read original story 'Fuller House' Review: When '90s Nostalgia Goes Wrong At TheWrap

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'Fuller House' review: When '90s nostalgia goes wrong
FULL HOUSE - 'The Perfect Couple' - Airdate: December 14, 1993. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)BOB SAGET;DAVE COULIER
Lori Loughlin (Aunt Becky) with former 'Full House' co-stars Candace Cameron Bure (D.J.) and Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie) and captioned the photo, "It's looking like a Full House kinda night."
FULL HOUSE - Cast Gallery - August 8, 1989. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)DAVE COULIER;JODIE SWEETIN;MARY-KATE/ASHLEY OLSEN;BOB SAGET;CANDACE CAMERON;JOHN STAMOS
FULL HOUSE - 'The Perfect Couple' - Airdate: December 14, 1993. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)BOB SAGET;DAVE COULIER;LORI LOUGHLIN;JOHN STAMOS
FULL HOUSE - 'I've Got A Secret' - October 18, 1994. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)DAVE COULIER;DOT JONES
FULL HOUSE - 'Air Jesse' - February 7, 1995. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)BOB SAGET;DAVE COULIER;BUDDY THE WONDERDOG;DYLAN/BLAKE TUOMY-WILHOIT;JOHN STAMOS
FULL HOUSE - 'Air Jesse' - February 7, 1995. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)DAVE COULIER;BOB SAGET;JOHN STAMOS
FULL HOUSE - 'Michelle Rides Again - Part I' - May 23, 1995. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)JOHN STAMOS;BOB SAGET;DAVE COULIER;BIFF MANARD
FULL HOUSE - 'Arrest Ye Merry Gentlemen' - December 13, 1994. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)DAVE COULIER;MARY-KATE/ASHLEY OLSEN;JOHN STAMOS;DYLAN/BLAKE TUOMY-WILHOIT;BOB SAGET;MICKEY ROONEY;JODIE SWEETIN;MARY-KATE/ASHLEY OLSEN;CANDACE CAMERON;LORI LOUGHLIN
FULL HOUSE - 'On The Road Again' - November 8, 1994. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)BOB SAGET;DAVE COULIER
FULL HOUSE - Cast Gallery - August 22, 1994. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)DAVE COULIER;BOB SAGET;JODIE SWEETIN;MARY-KATE OLSEN;ANDREA BARBER;BLAKE TUOMY-WILHOIT;LORI LOUGHLIN;JOHN STAMOS;DYLAN TUOMY-WILHOIT
FULL HOUSE - 'Breaking Away' - October 4, 1994. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)DYLAN/BLAKE TUOMY-WILHOIT;DAVE COULIER;JOHN STAMOS
FULL HOUSE - 'I've Got A Secret' - October 18, 1994. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)BOB SAGET;JOHN STAMOS;DAVE COULIER
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 27: FULL HOUSE - On location in San Francisco - Season Eight - 9/27/94, Pictured, from left: Dave Coulier (Joey), Bob Saget (Danny), Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie), Mary Kate Olsen (Michelle), Candace Cameron (D.J.), Andrea Barber (Kimmy), Blake Tuomy-Wilhoit (Nicky), Lori Loughlin (Rebecca), Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit (Alex), John Stamos (Jesse). , (Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 27: FULL HOUSE - Cast gallery - Season Eight - 9/27/94, Pictured, from left: Andrea Barber (Kimmy), Dave Coulier (Joey), Ashley Olsen (Michelle), Candace Cameron (D.J.), Bob Saget (Danny), Blake/Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit (Nicky/Alex), Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie), Lori Loughlin (Rebecca), John Stamos (Jesse), (Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images)
FULL HOUSE - 'Another Opening, Another No Show' - Airdate: November 2, 1993. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)CANDACE CAMERON;LORI LOUGHLIN;DAVE COULIER
FULL HOUSE - 'The Prying Game' - Airdate: November 16, 1993. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)JOHN STAMOS;DAVE COULIER
FULL HOUSE - 'The Prying Game' - Airdate: November 16, 1993. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)DAVE COULIER;DYLAN/BLAKE TUOMY-WILHOIT
FULL HOUSE - 'Fast Friends' - Airdate: October 12, 1993. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)DAVE COULIER;JOHN STAMOS
FULL HOUSE - 'Wrong-Way Tanner' - Airdate: September 28, 1993. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)DAVE COULIER;MARY-KATE OLSEN
FULL HOUSE - 'The Long Goodbye' - Airdate: September 29, 1992. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)DAVE COULIER;BOB SAGET
FULL HOUSE - 'Come Fly With Me' - Airdate: September 22, 1992. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)CYD STRITTMATTER;JODIE SWEETIN;MARY-KATE/ASHLEY OLSEN;BOB SAGET;DAVE COULIER;JOHN STAMOS
THE VIEW - Actor and comedian Jay Mohr guest co-hosts; Guests include Full House actors John Stamos, Bob Saget and Dave Coulier reunite; Anthony Bourdain (ABC's 'The Taste'); La La Anthony (author, The Love Playbook) today, Wednesday, January 29, 2014 on ABC's 'The View.' 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) JOHN STAMOS, BOB SAGET
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 22: FULL HOUSE - 'Our Very First Show' - Pilot - Season One - 9/22/87, Bob Saget played widower Danny Tanner, the father of three girls, Michelle (pictured, played by twins Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen), Stephanie, and D.J., who had the girls' Uncle Jesse and close friend Joey Gladstone move in to help raise them. , (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 22: FULL HOUSE - 'Our Very First Show' - Pilot - Season One - 9/22/87, Pictured, from left: Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen, Jodie Sweetin and Candace Cameron played sisters Michelle, Stephanie and D.J. Tanner, who were raised by their father, Danny, their Uncle Jesse, and a family friend, Joey Gladstone, after the death of their mother., (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 22: FULL HOUSE - 'Our Very First Show' - Pilot - Season One - Gallery - 9/22/87, Bob Saget (right) played widower Danny Tanner, the father of three girls, from left: Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), D.J. (Candace Cameron) and Michelle (played by twins Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen), who had the girls' Uncle Jesse (John Stamos, left) and friend, Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier) move in to help raise them. , (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 22: FULL HOUSE - 'Our Very First Show' - Pilot - Season One - Cast Gallery - 9/22/87, Bob Saget (bottom right) played widower Danny Tanner, the father of three girls, from left: Michelle (played by twins Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen), D.J. (Candace Cameron) and Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), who had his friend, Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier, left) and the girls' Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) move in to help raise them., (Photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 11: FULL HOUSE - Olsen twins gallery - Season One - 4/11/88, Ashley Olsen (left) and her twin sister, Mary Kate, played Michelle Tanner, the youngest of three daughters of widower Danny Tanner., (Photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 22: FULL HOUSE - 'Our Very First Show' - Pilot - Season One -Gallery - 9/22/87, Widower Danny Tanner, the father of three girls, Michelle (pictured, played by twins Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen), Stephanie and D.J., had his friend, Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier, left) and the girls' Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) move in to help raise them. , (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
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