Whatever Happened to Predictability? – Fuller House, Season 3
Whatever happened to predictability? It turns out it’s alive and kicking on the Netflix series Fuller House which just released Season 3 of the feel-good comedy, a revival of the popular 80s/90s sitcom Full House. For those who are into nostalgia (and I can be), the show hearkens back to a simpler time where situation comedies about families ended each episode pat and resolved, with very little effort put into the writing toward character development. It was a formula that worked and though it was heavy on feel-good laughs, it was short on substance.
When Full House returned as Fuller House, I have to admit that I was onboard. I was happy to see what became of DJ (Candace Cameron Bure), Stephanie (Jodi Sweetin) and Kimmy (Andrea Barber) and was even thrilled that the cloying cuteness of the Olsen twins had been excised from the show (per their choice not to participate). The parallel premise of the original show reworked with the next-generation could work, and I knew I wouldn’t even mind the occasional drop-by from series regulars John Stamos, Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, and Lori Loughlin. I was set for some old-fashioned television comedy.
For all its corn (and it’s just full of kernals of the corniest corn you’ll ever digest), I enjoyed the first two seasons of Fuller House. It was a nice andedote for the cynicism and sadness that permeate much of today’s television. It filled a niche and I’m not ashamed to say that I occasionally get an hankering for that kind of optimism. Now that the series has had some time to settle in, I was hoping that the show might delve into a little more character development and that these characters might begin to flesh out into three-dimensional people. Alas, we have been delivered eight-episodes of season three and, sadly, the show fills mired in its “fullness.” There are just too many characters for anyone to get enough time onscreen for us to learn anything new about them.
We are on Season 3. We do not need canned applause when anyone (and everyone) walks into the room, and we certainly don’t need thirty-seconds of hugs and hoorays when the actors from the original series make a guest starring appearance. They return frequently enough that it hardly a surprise to see Stamos wander in the front door or Coulier pull out his puppet and make cartoonish voices. They are a welcome presence, but the ballyhoo is wastind precious time for digging a little deeper. With so many characters in the show, time is a real commodity that is being squandered.
This season is set over a summer break, the days leading up to Steve’s wedding (Scott Weinger), DJ’s high school sweetheart. It’s more of the same. DJ is growing closer to her co-worker Dr. Mark Harmon (John Brotherton), but it is obvious she still has unresolved feelings for Steve. Of course, logically, Steve is marrying his fiancée in Japan and the entire Fuller/Gibbler clan are going to fly there and attend the nuptials. Stephanie is getting hot and heavy with Jimmy Gibbler (Adam Hagenbuch) but also finds out that her infertility problems may have some hope. This storyline turn made me happy, because Stephanie is one of the most developed characters on the sitcom, we are rooting for her, and Sweetin is quite loveable in the role. Kimmy Gibbler is still back-and-forth with her impossibly obnoxious ex-husband Fernando (the sexy, but truly annoying Juan Pablo Di Pace). The three older kids, Michael Campion, Soni Bringas, and particularly Elias Harger are all enthusiastic presences in the show (Harger is, in fact, hilarious and can make a meal out of almost any scene that he is in). Dasheill and Fox Messitt play baby Tommy, and so far, not much has been done to push them to the point of nauseating (a la Mary-Kate and Ashley), but you can tell the show is getting ready to go there.
I wish the show trusted itself just a little more. There are actually several interesting possibilities brewing and characters are sitting on the precipice of finding some deeper purpose. I want the show’s writers to run with that. There is no need for the show to revert to its old tricks so often. Move forward and probe the possibilities. It’s never going to be high art and no one is saying it has to be. Fuller House may seem stalled this season, idling in neutral. It’s time to change gears and see what this puppy can do. Give these talented comedic actresses (and occasionally dramatic actresses) something to bite into. I like this show, but I want to it to go somewhere and shed some of its “predictability.”