Warner Home Video presents
Full House: The Complete First Season (1987-1988)
D.J: Everyone thinks that Stephanie is sooo cute. Now everyone thinks Michelle is sooo cute. It's sooo disgusting!
Joey: Well, did you think it was sooo disgusting when everyone thought you were sooo cute in the play?
D.J: No, that was fine.- Candace Cameron, Dave Coulier
Stars: Dave Coulier, Bob Saget, John Stamos
Other Stars: Candace Cameron, Jodie Sweetin, Mary-Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (heartfelt talks and frequent hugging)
Run Time: Approx. 547 min.
Release Date: 2005-02-08
DVD ReviewSometimes, I'll revisit something I enjoyed growing up, and wonder what I was thinking. That wasn't the case with Full House, the last family-oriented sit-com to really connect with audiences. I watched it during its original run (from 1987-1994) and sometimes more than twice a day in repeats on some backwater cable channel when I was in middle school. Yup, I knew I had no surprises in store for me when I popped in the DVD to watch an episode for the first time in almost a decade. Because even as a pre-teen, I knew Full House was terrible.
Of course, that didn't stop me from watching it. Heck, I used to go between TBS and TNT, watching hour blocks of Full House and Saved By the Bell back-to-back. My friends and I had seen every episode so many times, we used to embarrass each other playing Full House trivia. Yeah, I'm sure we thought we were being all hip and ironic, making fun of it, but... Well, we did keep watching. I can think of only one explanation: the show is sort of the perfect storm of bad TV. The jokes are so lame, the moralistic storytelling so corny, and the characters so dorky that the final product can't be anything less than entertaining. Maybe I'm trying too hard to explain things when I could just say "guilty pleasure," but, well, after reacquainting myself with the Tanner household after all these years, I guess I just feel a little too guilty.
In case you had something to do on Friday nights aside from watching ABC, I can tell you that Full House tells the epic tale of a widower, Danny Tanner (filthy-mouthed comedian Bob Saget, repressing his id) who asks his dead wife's brother Jessie (Jon Stamos) and his best friend from college Joey (Dave Coulier, who incidentally is rumored to be the man who inspired Alanis Morrisette's You Oughta Know. If you need a minute to, I don't know, wash your eyes out with lye or throw up before continuing, I'll understand) to move in with him and help take care of his young daughters. They are 10-year-old DJ (Candace Cameron, sister of Kirk), five-year-old Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin and cute as a button), and, of course, the infant Michelle (twins and future billionaires Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen). They all live together improbably in the Tanner's San Francisco home (Joey basically camps out in the living room, and rocker Jessie sleeps in a room with pink bunnies on the wall).
Rarely has a more irritating (yet oddly endearing) collection of characters been assembled under one roof. Danny is the loveable dad, of course, and Bob Saget was a good choice for the role, as he downplays the saccharine content with the slightest hint of sarcasm. Jon Stamos is very likeable as bad boy Jessie, even if he does have a mullet and the most annoying catchphrase (well, at least until Michelle learned to talk). Then there's the "funny" one, Joey, who is supposed to be a stand-up comedian, but Dave Coulier is funny like Carrot Top is funny, which is to say he is notfunny, unless you think Popeye and Bullwinkle impressions are the height of comedy, like the people on the laugh track obviously do.
I think it was always the kids who really kept me watching, though, because I liked the show less when they got older. In Season One, they're all very cute, and decent little actresses in their own right. Jodie Sweetin in particular was able, even at age four, to sell basically any joke, be it a sight gag or a sarcastic remark (Full House is one of the only shows with smartass kids that doesn't bug the hell out of me, and I think a lot of credit for that goes to the cast). It's a little weird to see Mary-Kate and Ashley as babies when I could go to the store right now and see one or the other peering out at me from the cover of every tabloid (Drugs! Anorexia! Drug-fueled anorexia clinic binge sex party! Mary-Kate spotted standing next to someone who wasn't Ashley!). Especially when you listen to the executive producer's commentary and find out the girls were cast more or less because they were the babies who didn't cry during auditions.
What sort of wacky adventures will this kooky clan get themselves into? Why, only the wackiest and most adorable! Provided there is also a moral to the adventure, of course, and the opportunity for a hug and a heart-to-heart talk somewhere down the line. Describing the plots is pretty much pointless, as they are all pretty familiar. Jealousy between the siblings, conflict between the three "dads," whatever it is, it will all be wrapped up in the last two minutes with a serious talk (with trademarked "serious" music playing in the background, always, and it wouldn't be the same show without it—my friends and I always called it the Full House music) and, of course, a hug.
Maybe that's why I like the show so much, despite its rather massive flaws. It unashamedly posits that a family, even a weird family, can get along and work things out, provided they all love each other.
It's like make-believe!
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The image quality on this set really impressed me. This first season of Full House was shot on video close to 20 years ago, and yet it looks every bit as crisp and clean today as something like Friends. Colors are bright, and the image shows good detail and isn't overly grainy or dirty. With the 22 episodes spread across four discs, compression artifacts aren't a problem either.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: Episodes are presented in basic mono mixes that sound fine, if you can get over the fact that it's mono. Dialogue is always clear and the laugh track and theme song/score sound clean. Nothing to complain about, since this was made when people watched on mono televisions.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by executive producer Jeff Franklin on Pilot, Mad Money
Packaging: Book Gatefold
- Unaired original pilot
- Trivia game
I really enjoyed listening to the two commentary tracks from executive producer/creator Jeff Franklin, who speaks over the Pilot and episode 21, Mad Money. On the first, he sticks mostly to the series' conception and casting, and talks about how he and the producers chose each of the stars. He reveals that though Bob Sagat was one of the top candidates to play Danny (the other was Paul Riser), he wasn't in the original pilot used to sell the show because at the time he'd been under contract to the CBS Morning Show.
On the second track, Franklin talks a bit about actually making the series, including the difficult process of filming with infants and young children. He also reflects on the popularity of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen who, he claims, were already bigger stars as infants than almost anyone else on television (according to something known as a "q-rating"). I also found his discussion of the series' rocky start—horrible reviews, very low ratings—to be very interesting. It seems the show went from almost being canceled to a top ten hit during summer re-runs between seasons one and two, something that could never happen in the era of reality TV. He also admits the show could be a little sappy sometimes. No. Really? I honestly had not noticed.
Disc 1 includes that original pilot with a different Danny. The footage without Danny is identical to the aired version, but there must also be a few new scenes, as the episode is around two minutes longer. Interestingly, the footage that runs under the theme song is the same, just with a different actor—it looks like they re-shot all the "improvised" "fun" shot by shot once the role was recast. Seeing someone else as the Tanner dad is pretty weird, and I think Sagat was the better choice.
Wrapping up the bonus materials is a subtitle trivia track on the episode The Miracle of Thanksgiving. The set also comes packaged with a bonus Warner Bros. TV 50th Anniversary DVD. I don't know if everyone gets the same one, but mine is volume four, and includes episodes of Growing Pains (with Candace Cameron's sister Kirk) and Step by Step. And yes, now I do have three theme songs in my head, fighting for dominance.
Like other Warner half-hour releases, each episode is a single chapter, so get used to that extended, 1:45 long version of the theme song. The packaging uses those familiar plastic trays, but stores two discs on each, overlapping them, and they're kind of difficult to remove (relatively speaking, of course).
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsI don't understand, I should hate Full House. It's numbingly formulaic, over-reliant on catchphrases and contrived comedy, and sweeter than a bowl of Froot Loops and cream. And yet... I watched it obsessively growing up, and still enjoy watching it on Nick at Night and on DVD. There's obviously something wrong with me. I think... I think I need a hug.
Joel Cunningham 2005-02-17