Well, it’s come to this: recapping an episode of the much-beloved, much-hated show Full House. I’ve been dreading this, since I absolutely cannot stand this show and never have been able to. Oh sure, I watched it when I was a kid but would also rage at the TV when it was on because I thought it was bullshit even then. Maybe this is why, as an adult, I’m writing snarky (if not downright cruel) recaps of shows meant for 10-year-olds that aired 25 years ago. That and I currently have a lot of pent-up anger in general (it’s been a rough year).
I get that people of my generation have a lot of nostalgic love for these shows: I’m not immune to the nostalgic narm charm of Saved By The Bell, for example, and I’ve even downright enjoyed a fair number of these TGIF shows even while recapping them for this little project. I received a bit of sass-back from some people after my admittedly mean-spirited Boy Meets World recap, but as I prefaced it , I hated that show when I was a kid and still find it pretty dopey as an adult. Maybe it’s because I made fun of Ben Savage’s looks in it? But who cares? It was some crap show that ran decades ago. Anyway, I’m not going to be making fun of anyone’s looks in the recap for this show.
The other reason I’ve been dreading doing this particular recap is because another site has done a stellar and comprehensive job doing the same shtick for Full House, except that they did the whole series, not just one episode. In no way am I even hoping to compare myself to that guy’s oeuvre, which is fantastic. Instead I’m going to pick just one episode randomly and try to recap it somehow differently from what that site accomplished.
So we all probably know the premise: a dad loses his wife so his brother-in-law and old friend move into the house to help raise his three daughters. Hijinks ensue, lessons are learned, and it’s pretty much the standard sappy sitcom that’s been running for decades on television. But this show was a monster hit that dominated TGIF, and maybe (aside from Family Matters) even defined it. It ran for 8 seasons, the latter 6 consistently landing in the Top 30 in ratings, while it gained even more success in syndication. Hell, it still runs on cable TV channels today. There’s even a reboot on Netflix featuring the daughters (minus the Olsen twins, who live like recluses in a penthouse in Manhattan hiding in their stacks of cash) which I’ve heard isn’t half-bad.
Anyway, it’s cheesy, sappy, bland, and corny: the four pillars upon which TGIF was founded. Some may even mark the end of the series’ run as the death knell for TGIF: after the show ended in May 1995, the Friday programming block tried to run on Family Matters and Boy Meets World, and both shows’ ratings slid quickly after Full House’s conclusion.
While ABC threw a few more shows in the mix to liven up TGIF (including the previously recapped Sabrina the Teenage Witch), along with many other shows that I’ve never watched or even heard of before (You Wish, Teen Angel, and Two of a Kind among them), by 2000 it was lights out for TGIF as it once was: a complete re-branding moved away from family-friendly sitcoms to more adult fare, flip-flopping between scripted sitcoms, America’s Funniest Home Videos, and the latest craze on TV, reality shows.
I should be saving this type of prologue for the concluding essay (which will be the next post: I think recapping 12 TGIF shows is a fair enough sample size for this inane project), but I’m also stalling for time until I actually have to watch an episode of Full House and recap it. More than any other show in this project, this is the one I’ve been dreading the most, and you always save the worst for last. So here it is, some goddamn episode of this stupid show that–unless my heart has grown three sizes in the past month (it hasn’t; I’m fairly sure important parts inside of me have died instead)–I’m sure I will not enjoy this little exercise. This one’s at arguably the height of the show’s popularity, in 1990, where it sat within the Top 20 shows on television (#15). It’s Season 3 Episode 20’s “Honey, I Broke The House.”
Season 3 Episode 20 – “Honey, I Broke The House”
This really feels like a “first take best take” kind of show.
We open on Uncle Joey setting up a tee ball thing for Michelle to play. She barely hits the ball and instead she picks up the ball and runs to third base (which is a paper plate) then runs to first, and then when Uncle Joey says for her to head home, she heads inside. You know, her home. Did ants write this show?
The theme song starts and it’s damn catchy and cheesy, like most TGIF theme songs. You probably have the entire song and opening credits hardwired into your memory by now so there’s no reason to recap this part. So I’m not. I will say that since I’m watching a bootleg version of this show online so to disguise it from algorithms that scan videos for copyright material, thus garnering a DCMA notice, the sound has an annoying flange effect over it.
So back to the show, Michelle is trying to listen to her stuffed bear’s heartbeat while Kimmy Gibbler and DJ do their homework with headphones on. They pause to sing the line, “Blame it on the rain, yeah yeah!” in a bit that aged poorly, considering that Milli Vanilli were immediately caught out as total frauds, but I guess 1990 didn’t expect anybody to ever watch any of this ever again. Michelle sings “Rain rain, go away, come again another day,” and this produces howls from the audience. Then Stephanie stomps in and says hey pay attention to me now. Kimmy gives her sass, Stephanie gives her some sass back, and DJ tells her to buzz off so she leaves. Then Michelle comes over to Kimmy and has her put on her stethoscope and shouts into the receiver. It’s just riveting television.
I wonder if she can hear her career drop off after this show ends.
Stephanie goes downstairs where her father Danny and soon-to-be Aunt Becky (played by the ever-so-foxy Lori Loughlin) are planning for their terrible morning show. Stephanie says pay attention to me and they say no, we’re also busy. Do you see how everyone’s busy? Take the hint, kid. Stephanie Tanner was as old as I was when this show aired and I found her insufferable even then. Uncle Jessie also tells her to buzz off and shoves her off to Uncle Joey and then slides over and says hey Becky, why don’t we have a nice evening together, wink wink. But she says no, I’m having dinner with this totally awesome dude that’s accomplished more than you will ever be. You know, for professional reasons and all. But Becky and Danny leave because they have jobs and Jessie also leaves to find purpose somewhere in this universe.
So in the backyard, we see Uncle Joey shining up his totally cherry new ride (a 1963 Rambler), which he somehow afforded even though he, like Jessie, also doesn’t have a job. Ignoring Stephanie, he goes down to the auto store for some touch-up paint and Stephanie says don’t worry, I’m going to take care of your car while you’re gone. Reeeeal good care.
“Nice car you got there, Uncle Joey. Be a shame if something happened to it…”
She then hops into the driver’s seat and pretends to drive it, then starts the car, puts the goddamn car in reverse and (if you’ve read the title of this episode) reverses the car into the kitchen. She prays to her god Moloch that it’s a dream, but of course it’s just the terrifying reality of living in the Full House. Michelle walks in and utters the immortal line, “There’s a car in the kitchen!” and Stephanie despairs. This is some heavy existential despair that is only broken up by Michelle uttering her famous line, “You got it, dude!” and Stephanie walks away from this mess like nothing’s happened. Well, I’ll say this: at least we’re almost halfway through the episode.
Back upstairs, DJ’s singing along to some inane pop song, whatever it is, New Kids On The Block, who cares? Stephanie starts packing her bags to split this scene, man, while Michelle goes up to DJ and Kimmy to let them know that there’s a car in the kitchen. Stephanie shoots her a look like you dirty goddamn rat and when DJ asks why Stephanie is packing a bag, she lies her face off and says she has to go to dance class while also saying her forever farewells.
CUT TO: DJ and Kimmy walking into the kitchen and both are completely stunned that there’s a car in the kitchen. Jesse walks in with his face obscured by grocery bags and says his catchphrase, “Have mercy!” and Michelle states that there’s a car in the kitchen once again and then Danny’s coming through the front door and they all decide to delay the horror show that this violently OCD fellow is about to enact when he sees that there’s (yet again) a car in the kitchen. Honestly, this phrase has been said like 10 times already.
There’s something in the kitchen, but I’m not sure what. A cow? A cat? TELL ME!
So Danny thinks there’s a fun surprise waiting for him and when he walks in and sees what’s happened (a mode of transportation has found its way into a common area of the house where food is prepared), he asks if everyone’s OK and where the fudge Stephanie is and then starts going a little bonkers and also starts blaming his bum friend Joey for this nightmare.
OK, so onto the B-plot: at Becky’s house, Stephanie shows up and goddamn does Becky have a nice pad. She also looks quite fine. Yes, I’m going to comment on at least one person’s looks in this show, and it’s going to be Lori Loughlin. I’m a lonely man, sue me. Anyway, Stephanie says she can’t go home and Becky asks why and Stephanie says because I fucked up big, that’s why. OK, we have 8 minutes left. I can do this.
Jessie knocks on the door and says hey it’s me, let me in, what the fuck’s going on in there? He comes in thinking that Becky’s cheating on him but instead he came to apologize and that’s all well and good. Becky shows him the door but he comes right back in and sees a suitcase and wonders who’s in the closet and he thinks it’s probably that guy he’s super-jealous of but instead nobody’s in there–except when he opens the door, Stephanie is hanging up inside in a coat on the back of the door, and it’s actually a pretty funny visual gag. So there’s one for you, Full House.
Like, this is actually pretty funny. Like a Marx Brothers gag or something.
Once he spots her he’s like what are you doing, Stephanie? Even though he could guess considering there’s a car in the kitchen back at home. Does everyone get amnesia between scenes in this show? Anyway, Jessie says look we gotta go face the music especially since your father’s probably brained Uncle Joey and is currently dissolving his body in an acid bath at this point.
CUT BACK TO the Full House and DJ says it’s almost dinner, do you want me to set the car? And that’s a pretty funny line, too. Anyway, Joey walks in and Danny says what the fuck’s going on, jerkface? Joey’s like I have no idea what’s going on so let’s just get to the inevitable misunderstanding that’s been fueling this bit of farce.
Joey screams when he sees his car in the kitchen and Danny’s like oh so you don’t know about this, eh? Then Stephanie walks in and says yeah, I fucked up your shit. And yeah, Joey, you should never have left your keys in the ignition around a child anyway. Danny says just go upstairs so I can figure out a good punishment while Joey has a mental breakdown.
There it is, Uncle Joey: The best thing that happens to you in the entire series and it’s gone. Let me feed on your sweet Garmonbozia.
Upstairs, DJ tries to console Stephanie and then Danny comes in to have a little heart-to-heart like every single episode of this show ends. He gives her some shit and she throws a little self-pity party. She wah-wahs about whatever and Danny says no, I love you, let’s not get all over-dramatic about this, OK? It was just Uncle Joey’s car, after all, and he’s barely a person. You can salt his game all you want and I’m still going to love you because duh, I’m your father. They hug and that resolves this bit of tripe. And credits? That’s it? IS THERE NO REDEMPTION?
Well that was pointless. And bland. But it was what it was. I guess I’ll give it credit for being a bland, inoffensive show made for children and their families to watch together. Honestly, the show doesn’t enrage me like it did when I was a kid. I mean, I’m a grown-ass man now so it would probably be disturbing if it did enraged me at this point. But now I’m an uncle myself and look upon kids with a much softer heart and gentler feelings than I did when I was a kid or teenager. Heck, seeing Uncle Jessie and Joey interact with them reminded me of how I am with my niece and nephew and how much I love them. I guess this is to say that maybe my heart did grow a little bit.
Would I watch this show again? No. Do I hate it as much as I did when I as a kid watching it this time around? Heavens, no. It’s not for me, but then again, it’s not made for me: it’s made for families to watch together. Unlike, say, Boy Meets World (which, reading back, I really did use as a punching bag in this project), it’s not trying to be profound or even relatable to an older audience: this is inoffensive, soft, family-friendly fare that you can watch with an 8-year-old relative and–even if you might find it a little stupid–they’ll enjoy it, which makes you enjoy it. That’s something else getting older has taught me: even if what little kids like is kind of stupid to adults, it’s watching them enjoying it–and experiencing that kind of joy through them–that makes it good. Hell, I’ll give Full House a thumbs-up just for that aspect.
And with that little bit of self-insight, this little project as a whole has run its course. Maybe that was its ultimate purpose: to give me a reason to look back at a bit of television that meant a lot to me at one time, and to a lot of people in my generation, when we were kids and try to figure out why it did. And now as an adult, I can understand why: it was something that parents could rest assured that nothing offensive, explicit, or questionable would be aired for at least two hours a week on Friday nights, at the start of the weekend, when they could sit down and spend some time together, eat some pizza, drink some soda, and have a really enjoyable evening relaxing after a long week. As an adult, I really appreciate that notion and wish that there was a new TGIF for my generation to experience with their kids.