The Critic: With Fuller House, The X-Files, and more re­boots to come, TV banks on the power of nos­tal­gia

Fuller House and TV’s full-on nos­tal­gia trip By Marie Lodi

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Whoa, I’m hav­ing an acid flash­back,” says wacky next-door neigh­bor Kimmy Gib­bler upon en­ter­ing the Tan­ner home in the first episode of Netflix’s Full House re­boot. Fans of the sit­com, which aired from 1987 to 1995, will feel the same déjà vu see­ing the Tan­ners to­gether again around the kitchen ta­ble. When Kimmy (An­drea Bar­ber) cor­rects her­self and says she’s ac­tu­ally hav­ing an antacid flash­back, view­ers old enough to have watched the show on Fri­day nights in the ’80s may iden­tify with that, too.

Hol­ly­wood stu­dios have banked on the nos­tal­giain­duc­ing power of re­vived fran­chises for years; now TV net­works are com­mit­ting to the prac­tice with the glee of a live stu­dio au­di­ence. Al­ready this year, Fox brought back The X-Files for a six-show minis­eries. New Twin Peaks and Gilmore Girls episodes are be­ing plot­ted, too.

This model i sn’t ex­actly revo­lu­tion­ary. Star Trek, Doc­tor Who, and Bat­tlestar Galac­tica were all suc­cess­fully re­booted; Char­lie’s An­gels, Bev­erly Hills 90210, and Knight Rider were—let’s be gen­er­ous—not. In th­ese cases, net­works tried to re­vive a se­ries and see if they could repli­cate their ini­tial suc­cess. Netflix has com­mit­ted to 13 episodes of Fuller House, and Dis­ney Chan­nel is all in on Girl Meets World, but many of the se­cond com­ings are de­signed to last only a dozen or fewer episodes, with as much rem­i­nisc­ing as pos­si­ble jammed in.

Fuller House, which pre­mieres Feb. 26, is a gen­der-swapped ver­sion of its par­ent se­ries. In the orig­i­nal, wid­ower Danny Tan­ner (Bob Saget) re­cruits his best friends, Jesse and Joey ( John Sta­mos and Dave Coulier, re­spec­tively), to help raise his three daugh­ters. On Fuller House, el­dest daugh­ter D. J. (Can­dacedace Cameron-Bure), now a ve­teri­nar­ian, ian, re­turns home fol­low­ing her hus­band’snd’s death—it seems you don’t want to marry arry a Tan­ner—and en­lists best friend Kimmy and younger sis­ter Stephanie ( Jodie Sweetin) to move in and co-par­ent her three sons. High jinks en­sue.

The hu­mor is es­sen­tially un­changed, though char­ac­ters re­peat catch­phrases (like Un­cle Jesse’s “Have mercy!”) with a wink and a nod in the same way they make ref­er­ences to the ’90s: “My moves are all that and a bag of chips, so talk to the hand,” Kimmy says af­ter do­ing the Ham­mer­time dance. Fuller House is fun not be­cause of plot twists and turns—it’s hardly try­ing to com­pete on that front—but be­cause it takes us back to when a lame gag about how boys are more fo­cused on sand­wiches than girls could get a laugh.

The ab­sence of Mary-Kate and Ash­ley Olsen, who were cast as youngest sis­ter Michelle on Full House, is glar­ing. But play­ing a grown-up tod­dler can’t be a good look for women who’ve be­come a big deal in the fash­ion world. This is ad­dressed in the first episode when Danny says, “Michelle sends her love,ve, but she’s busy in New York run­ning her fash­ion em­pire.” The cast looks in­tonto the cam­era, as if to echo a Stephanie catch­phrase: “How rude.”

And you know what? It is rude. What we want with a re­boot is to pick up where we left off, like noth­ing’s changed. But that’s hard. The cast­ing for Twin Peaks hasn’t yet been con­firmed. Gilmore Girls will go for­ward with­out the now-very-fa­mouss Melissa McCarthy, though. As the Full ll House theme song—which is also the Fuller House theme song, cov­ered by Carly Rae Jepsen—asks, “What­ever hap­pened to pre­dictabil­ity?” <BW>


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