In the Netflix spin-off series, Fuller House, the adventures that began in 1987 on Full House continue, with D.J. Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron-Bure) as a recently widowed veterinarian living in San Francisco. D.J.’s younger sister, aspiring musician Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Sweetin), and D.J.’s lifelong best friend, Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), who is also a single mother, move in to help take care of D.J.’s three boys and figure out how to navigate their own life dramas.
During roundtables and a panel at the TCA Press Tour, head writer/executive producer Jeff Franklin, executive producer Robert L. Boyett and co-stars Candace Cameron-Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber talked about the freedom Netflix gives them, the flexible format, why the show is feel-good comfort food, the opening credits, rebuilding the Tanner house, the importance of having characters that are a variety of ages, grounding the characters and having edgier storylines, the emotional first taping night, and never ruling out an appearance from the Olsen twins. We’ve compiled a list of 21 things that you should know about Fuller House.
- The new Netflix format has led them to make some tweaks with the format of the show. They don’t have to conform to the typical 22-minute time period for comedy, so the episodes are various lengths. They’re also mindful of binge-watching, so throughout the shows, they have some mini-arcs that will tempt people to continue to watch the episodes.
- The relationship with Netflix has been great for the producers, as far as getting to have some freedom to make the show. The network battles were always about money, time restrictions and content, due to the strong standards and practices department. The network would go through every single line of every single script and send pages of comments on them. Now, it’s a much more liberal environment and they try to police the content themselves.
- The producers believe that viewers will enjoy the show, whether they know the original or not, because it makes people feel good and is “comfort food.” The show also had great international success and people know the show all over the world, so the producers are looking forward to seeing the global reaction this time around.
- It was important to the producers to bring back the opening credits and use that to bridge the old show with the new. They start off with the opening of Full House to bring everyone back together, and then let the story take viewers to the jumping off point for the new series.
It took about two weeks to rebuild the old house on the studio lot, and it is such a perfect replica of the original.
- The show fulfills the fantasy about having a family of people together that support each other, work out their problems and get on with daily life, which is something that is globally relatable. Because of a lack of programming that the entire family can watch together, this show is filling that gap again. The actors are as much of a family as the characters are, which comes through on the screen, and having been able to run in repeats on Nickelodeon built a new audience for the show that is interested in its return.
- It took time to put the show together, find a home for it and get the deals worked out, but with the exception of the Olsen twins, the cast jumped at the opportunity to get back together for this show. And the producers say that the Olsens support the show and haven’t ruled out ever possibly making an appearance.
- A trio is at the center of the show, simply because it worked the first time around, so they thought they’d do it again. They wanted to have a spread of ages, to allow the time to grow, so the kids vary from a baby to a 7-year-old to a 13-year-old. That way, there’s a greater chance for the youth audience to identify with the younger cast.
Two of the three women in the show, this time around, have already raised children. It’s not about bumbling parents figuring it out. It’s much more character-based and about seeing these women come together and form a new family.
- Apart from the main three girls, the other cast members will be making appearances throughout the course of the season, when it’s appropriate to the story, but not on every episode. They are members of the family, but they’re not there just for promotional purposes, so they’re in about half of the episodes while it will just be the new main trio in the other half.
- The series is a little bit edgier now than it was, the first time around. The world is edgier and kids know so much more than kids did, 30 years ago. They’re exposed to so much more, as a result of electronic connections. And they will be exploring more stories with the adults and what’s going on in their lives.
- They wanted to ground the characters in the real world, with real problems and real issues. The current that runs through Full House and Fuller House is tragedy, with the loss of a parent. It’s about dealing with that, getting through it, and coming together to create a different kind of family.
They contemplated many different possibilities for the story, including having D.J. be divorced, but ultimately decided on her being a widow. They even thought about him being in the military and away, all the time. Ultimately, they decided to make him a firefighter who died in the line of duty because it would make viewers more sympathetic. It came down to wanting D.J. to be a woman with an incredible amount of responsibility, including the fact that she’s a veterinarian and a mother with three children. The storyline just felt like the right thing to do, despite its similarity to the original premise.
- Although the premise is similar, the cast is quick to point out that it is a new series. Said Jodie Sweetin, “It’s the same characters, but it’s a completely new show. I think it’s going to be completely fun for these women to get to tell stories from their perspective.”
- For Candace Cameron-Bure, returning to D.J. and finding the rhythm of the character again was super easy. She said, “I didn’t sit around for 20 years, thinking about what D.J. would be like or who she would be now, but when we knew we were going in to do this new show, it was so easy to just become D.J. again. It just felt like she never left. Because we have such chemistry and have been friends for so long, working with [Sweetin and Barber] is like a sisterhood.” Add Sweetin, “It’s like any sibling relationship where, as you get older, you sort of even out. We’re all adults now and we get each other. That’s where our relationship is now. We’re all equals.”
Fuller House marks Andrea Barber’s return to acting since the original series, but she was excited to return to the role. She said, “I didn’t hesitate, at all. I love Full House so much and I love Kimmy Gibbler and I love my cast mates so much that there was no hesitation to do the project again. Maybe I had a little anxiety in acting again. I was like, ‘I hope I can still do this.’ I was so nervous, the first taping, right before my first scene, but it’s just like riding a bike. You slip right back into it so easily.”
- Even though Kimmy Gibbler has become something of a cult icon, Barber said she feels more joy than pressure to bring her back for the fans. “Her wardrobe is an extension of the character and it gets it own laughs on the show. Fans want to know where they can find Kimmy’s donut purse and her bacon and eggs scarf. There’s going to be a whole line of Kimmy Gibbler accessories, I’m sure of it. I love her eccentricities.”
- The pilot episode is more of a stand-alone episode to bring viewers back to the time and place of the original series and to set up what it’s all about now. It’s a reunion of everyone together with lots of nostalgia, but it’s not necessarily the tone and rhythm that the show will continue. Episode 2 is a better indication of what the new series is.
The first night that they taped the show in front of a studio audience again was emotional for the cast. Barber said, “The energy was off the charts with the audience. We thought and hoped that the audience would receive it well, but fans were crying in the audience when they revealed the set for the first time.” Added Cameron-Bure, “Week after week, there were multiple people crying when they would lift the curtain and they would see the Full House set for the first time. That’s the mark that the show has left on the world. After 30 years, it’s incredible.”
- The veteran cast members can share their experiences of what it was like to experience the fame and attention that came with the success of Full House with the young cast members of Fuller House because they’ve been through it. They are able to relate, as cast members, on what it’s like to go from normal kid to one in the public eye, and they can help the kids and their parents through that change.
- Because of this recent wave of nostalgia programming on television, the producers have received queries about possibly bringing back other shows they’ve done previously, but right now, their focus is on Fuller House and a second season of the show.
Fuller House is available at Netflix on February 26th.