Netflix review: ‘Fuller House’

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Whatever happened to predictability? Well, I’m happy to report it’s alive and well in “Fuller House,” the sequel to the popular ’80s and ’90s sitcom “Full House.” And that’s a good thing.

Growing up, I loved “Full House.” I loved ABC’s entire late-’80s TGIF lineup including “Perfect Strangers,” “Just the Ten of Us” and “Family Matters.” But “Full House” was always the anchor for me. As a young teen, I didn’t go out much on Friday nights. I was that typical Asian kid, finishing up all my weekend homework Friday afternoon, then glued to the TV for TGIF and then of course Black Belt Theater.

house2I was obsessed with these shows about American families. Each time the kids talked back to their parents, everything turned out alright with a quick life lesson and a hug. This you did not see in typical Asian families. Don’t get me wrong. My family was and still is really close, but smart-ass comebacks were only muttered under my breath and discipline usually ended not with hugs but with broken backscratchers, if you know what I mean.

“Full House” was the epitome of that type of American family portrayal. Here were kids experiencing the same issues that I was, yet everything was always neatly wrapped up in 30 minutes. It’s a credit to the creators and writers that they could produce a show so innocent and entertaining every week.

So how does the new version measure up? So far, so good! I’m now five episodes in and am really enjoying it. “Fuller House” takes the premise of the original, where a single parent of three kids has his friends move in to help raise them, and updates it for the next generation. Instead of Danny Tanner as the single dad, it’s now his daughter DJ who’s a widow and raising three sons. Sister Stephanie and BFF Kimmy move in to help and voila! A sequel is born.

“Fuller House” smartly brings back the entire cast of the original for the pilot episode. I was amazed at how good everyone looked, especially Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky. Have mercy! They even copied the original opening credits except with updated versions of the character intros, which I thought was really cool. Only the Olsen twins are missing but their absence is addressed in humorous ways, like when the characters break the fourth wall and give a wink and a nod to the audience when they explain that baby sister Michelle is busy in New York taking care of her fashion franchise.

house1After the pilot episode, the show focuses on the three girls and their four children (Kimmy’s daughter also moves in). I was afraid DJ’s character, a typical overly stressed single mom, would start to annoy me with her insecurities but she gradually eases into Danny Tanner territory and comfortably so. I’ve always been a fan of Jodie Sweetin as Stephanie, especially during her “How rude!” days. Sweetin continues to shine, basically taking over the cool Uncle Jesse role and playing it with confidence.

Kimmy is … Kimmy. She’s the same as ever and brings a much-needed levity, like Uncle Joey did. The kids have yet to stand out but if there is one candidate it’s Max, DJ’s middle son. He’s cute as a button but for some reason shouts out every line of dialogue. That might get old fast. I also want more Fernando, Kimmy’s ex-husband. That guy is a riot and a great match for Kimmy’s kookiness.

The older stars of the original show make guest appearances (uncles Jesse and Joey appear in episodes 2 and 3) and I hope that more pop up. But even if they don’t, “Fuller House” is strong enough to satisfy fans of the original and hopefully draw new fans to its wholesome world. In an age where TV is dominated by meth-dealing teachers, female prisoners and bloody wedding massacres, “Full House” will come off as cheesy and outdated, especially with its propensity for hugs (oh, so many hugs!). But who doesn’t want a heart and a hand to hold on to?