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Petals and Stems Group

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Leo Rivera
Leo Rivera

"Full House" Joey's Funny Valentine(1994)

Over the past two decades, few situation comedies have run eight seasons or longer and, of those, just about none were as reliable and squeaky clean as "Full House". Two and a half years since debuting this '80s/'90s sitcom on DVD, Warner Brothers today arrives at and issues The Complete Seventh Season. In its penultimate year airing on ABC, "Full House" was still providing what it always did: goofy comedy involving a close-knit extended San Francisco family that never hid its moral lessons or shied from showing off a big heart.As usual, Season 7 found the series' three father figures in the same place physically, while somewhat growing as people. The actual Dad, Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) remains excessively tidy, emotionally immature, and quite dorky. Widowed at the series' start, Danny's engagement to a recurring character, the Chicago-based, career-oriented Vicky Larson (Gail Edwards) hardly seems to promise a change in marital status, with their rarely-seen relationship feeling like the clear result of a gimmicky season finale proposal. It's little surprise their future is called off, outside of the sudden, maudlin manner with which it renders the season's Christmas episode a downer. Danny's best friend, the goofball Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier), continues to live essentially in a world of his own. Rarely serious and still never missing an opportunity to do a silly impression or funny voice, cartoon-loving Joey maintains a comedic presence.The first to graduate from the bachelorhood with which the show launched all three and also the most normal and cool of the guys despite an unnatural obsession with his hair, Jesse Katsopolis (top-billed John Stamos) grabs a bulk of the focus, along with his own young family with wife Rebecca (Lori Loughlin). Their twin toddler boys Alex and Nicky (Dylan and Blake Tuomy-Wilhoit) fill and multiply the cute young'un role that the Olsen twins had long shared but recently grew out of. Claiming about as much screentime and as many storylines as any of the Tanner girls, the actors portraying the undistinguished siblings are forever looking off-camera for cues but still provide some laughs and the requisite "awww" moments. Meanwhile, their father Jesse gets to inherit The Smash Club, a nightclub which he re-opens as a hip, alcohol-free setting that can adapt to fit any scripted situation, regardless of its owner's evident lack of business savvy. "Full House" wouldn't be "Full House" without the three Tanner sisters, the main attraction and source of identification for the sitcom's younger viewers. D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle can easily be viewed as three stages of the same girl treated to a largely motherless, remarkably healthy upbringing. The siblings deal with matters appropriate for their ages, now 16, 11, and 7. High school junior D.J. (Candace Cameron) has the most company in happy-go-lucky, metabolically fast boyfriend Steve (Scott Weinger) and frequently-dumped-on best friend Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), both of whom continue to enjoy opening credits status. Between the SATs, a secret driving ticket, a father fearing she's sexually active, and a mountaintop break-up, D.J. has the mid-'90s mid-teen issues (and more) covered quite well.Beginning junior high in Grade 6, Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) faces peer pressure from tough seventh grade girls who smoke and dish out taunts. They turn out not to be that tough as the most difficult, Gia (Marla Sokoloff), becomes a friend of questionable influence who will return for six episodes next season. No longer holding the cute baby role, youngest daughter Michelle (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) is quick to assert her "big girl" status when her family underestimates her. Season 7 finds her playing soccer, riding in a downhill derby, objecting to a falsely-advertised toy, and coping with the loss of a beloved relative, in addition to interacting with more similarly-aged peers than either of her older sisters.Par for the course, the Tanner girls' notion of sibling woes are always of the minor variety. Arguments and disagreements are overcome quickly and can be chalked up to nothing worse than a bad mood or lapse in judgment. There's still room for Danny to come in and provide some paternal advice, complete with sappy instrumental music. But for the most part, the Tanner girls have things, including sisterly love, figured out alright. There are certain qualities of "Full House" that contribute to some people, typically manly men and cynics, reacting with a groan at the mere mention of the title. These audience-dividing traits practically cover the entire series' design: its overwillingness to provide a clear-cut moral and warm fuzzy conclusion, its firm belief in the comedy value of young kids talking coherently via obvious scripting, its broad humor, its disregard for realism, its penchant for sappy moments, its predictable destinations and twists, its frequent reminder of the aspects that distinguish each character (from obsessive cleanliness to stinky feet), its sterile world, its preference for exposition over depicting action, and its spotless personalities.I can recognize all these traits and, to a degree, sympathize with those who classify them as weaknesses. But "Full House" remains incredibly watchable and highly enjoyable to me, all the same. Such a conventional, familiar sitcom doesn't ask much of its audience and doesn't seek to provide especially inspired, groundbreaking storytelling. However, only rare and recent TV comedies have done that, and clearly, the millions of Americans who have tuned in for primetime weeknight programming of the past several decades haven't all been brain-dead. "Full House" may be far from sophisticated or subtle and offers acting that's maybe a half-step above soap opera quality. But it makes up for its format's simplicity and its own corniness by supplying a consistent and high entertainment value. Whether you're laughing with it or at it, the show is funny. That is due to a number of reasons: the writers having a good sense of humor, the characters being easily identifiable and likable, the situations being easy to relate to and follow. The show's distinct late-'80s-to-mid'90s setting doesn't hurt, either, for those who remember this recent period that seems so simple in contrast to today's media.All things considered, "Full House" can't be called a great show on its artistic merits. As pure entertainment, though, it's tough to top. I was able to blaze through the nearly ten hours of content on this set in just three days without even remotely growing tired of the show, its brand of comedy, and straightforward delivery. You may be very different, but if you have room in your life for investing in TV families, embracing their wacky adventures, and being able to forgive the more than occasional showing of corniness, "Full House" will probably delight you in a comfortable way. If somehow you haven't already come across the show, then check it out on Nick at Nite, ABC Family, or your local equivalent. It's so easy to jump in at any episode and enjoy the pure sitcom fun.Spoiler-free synopses of Season 7's 24 episodes follow, with ten favorite episodes marked by a star (). As on many of the past seasons, most of these open with a usually disjointed introduction of about a minute in length. These tend to be cute kid antics, once the near-exclusive domain of Michelle and here mostly handed out to Alex and Nicky. Seemingly designed to enable easy trims for syndication, those who know the show only from reruns may be pleasantly surprised to encounter these restored openings. Disc 11. It was a Dark and Stormy Night (23:51) (Originally aired September 14, 1993)After a summer of fun, the girls are sad to come home from Camp Lakota. Their trip back to camp to return Michelle's new rabbit friend becomes an adventure when Steve's car gets stuck and a storm knocks out the power. Jesse and Becky have trouble getting the twins to sleep in their own new beds. 2. The Apartment (23:52) (Originally aired September 21, 1993)Danny flips out when D.J. falls asleep at Steve's new apartment. Joey and Jesse plan to save money by cementing the driveway themselves, which is easier said than done. Stephanie fights with Michelle, after the latter makes leaf collecting her new hobby and fills their room with foliage. 3. Wrong-Way Tanner (23:52) (Originally aired September 28, 1993)While making a video on the family's ordinary life, Stephanie catches everyone in embarrassing situations. As part of Joey's soccer team, Michelle has trouble picking up the game, which is only worsened by Danny's training and Jesse's contradicting advice.4. Tough Love (23:51) (Originally aired October 5, 1993)The parenting skills of Jesse and Rebecca are called into question when Alex and Nicky won't curb their rambunctious behavior. Vicky prepares a new and unusual dinner for everyone and to ensure a favorable reaction, Danny provides an allowance advance for his two youngest critics. 5. Fast Friends (23:52) (Originally aired October 12, 1993)Stephanie has trouble fitting in and making friends at her new junior high school and she contemplates smoking to satisfy her first promising lead. D.J., Steve, and Kimmy appear on Joey and Jesse's new radio program Teen Talk (or is it Yakkin' with Youth?).6. Smash Club: The Next Generation (23:46) (Originally aired October 19, 1993)Jesse inherits the Smash Club and finds a number of obstacles in the way of reopening the place. Michelle takes advantage of Alex and Nicky's willingness to wait on her.Disc 27. High Anxiety (23:45) (Originally aired October 26, 1993) Michelle objects to Danny treating her like a baby instead of a big girl, especially in front of her classmates. Jesse has trouble deciding anything regarding the look, layout, and appliances of the Smash Club. 8. Another Opening, Another No Show (23:51) (Originally aired November 2, 1993)Jesse is very worked up over the Smash Club's opening night and those around him give reason for concern. Strung-out on coffee, Danny can't figure out the cappuccino machine; Joey books R.E.M. to perform, but it's not the band you're thinking of. As the icing on the cake, Jesse gets trapped in a storage room with Kimmy. 9. The Day of the Rhino (23:46) (Originally aired November 9, 1993)Disappointed by how tiny and cheap a Rigby the Rhino action figure is compared to its commercials, Michelle gets help from Joey in making a scene at the Rhino's mall appearance. Both D.J. and Steve receive advice from members of their gender about how to handle the age-old scenario of girls asking their partners, "How do I look?" 10. The Prying Game (23:52) (Originally aired November 16, 1993)After Stephanie sees Steve kissing another girl in the library, she enlists Kimmy to help confirm the suspicions of cheating before telling D.J. the news. Meanwhile, Jesse takes some advice and, with help from Joey, Danny, and Becky, tries to market the Sprayguard 2001, a device designed to protect the face from hairspray. 11. The Bicycle Thief (23:51) (Originally aired November 23, 1993)When Michelle discovers her bike's been stolen, Danny, Joey, and Jesse split up and each recovers what they think is the missing bike. As all are lacking the proper identification (a Kermit sticker on the basket), the gang finds themselves having hot bikes in the same house as the local Crime Catchers.12. Support Your Local Parents (23:46) (Originally aired November 30, 1993)The twins won't interact with any kids besides each other, leading Jesse and Becky attend a support group. Stephanie and Michelle gain access to D.J.'s wardrobe in exchange for their silence over their big sister's first driving ticket. Disc 313. The Perfect Couple (23:45) (Originally aired December 14, 1993)The Joey-hosted game show of this Christmas episode's title reveals new things to three couples: Jesse is concerned he's too predictable for Rebecca, D.J.'s bothered that she and Steve don't know a lot about each other, while Danny wants to settle down with Vicky (who misses the taping and must be replaced). Back home watching the twins, Michelle teaches Stephanie about her babysitting know-how. 14. Is It True about Stephanie? (23:46) (Originally aired January 4, 1994)After Stephanie gets asked out by the cool lead singer of Human Pudding, tough girl classmate Gia spreads a lie about them, prompting Stephanie and pal Mickey to strike back with a blown-up copy of Gia's unflattering report card. Danny copes with breaking up with Vicky by growing a mustache and rearranging every room in the house. 15. The Test (23:46) (Originally aired January 11, 1994)Stressed about her final moments to prepare for the SATs, D.J. dreams of a scenario where everything goes wrong, while those around her try to calm her with the logic that "It's just a test." 16. Joey's Funny Valentine (23:46) (Originally aired January 25, 1994)Joey dates Roxy (guest Felicia Michaels), a stand-up comedienne that he insists is hilarious. In meeting the Tanners, she can't supply spontaneous humor, but when they see her Smash Club act that makes fun of them, they like her even less. Also, returning parrot mascot of Big Sid's Electronic Store, D.J. and Stephanie want different things (a big screen TV and a karaoke machine, respectively) for their reward, leaving an apathetic Michelle as the decision maker. 17. The Last Dance (23:47) (Originally aired February 8, 1994)Jesse's grandfather Papouli visits and has fun with the Tanner family before dying unexpectedly in his sleep. Michelle tries hard to be brave and not cry in front of Jesse. Meanwhile, D.J. and Kimmy have a spat when the latter buys the designer sunglasses the former wanted.18. Kissing Cousins (23:51) (Originally aired February 15, 1994)Jesse returns from Greece with his cousin Stavros (John Stamos, with slicked-back hair, a fake nose, mole, and mustache), who quickly grates everyone with his suave scheming. Just as his welcome is about to wear out, a plan is hatched to host a fundraiser for Stavros' landslide-devastated village.Disc 419. Love on the Rocks (23:46) (Originally aired March 1, 1994)Steve goes to Los Angeles on a trip with his film class, leaving D.J. to spend time with Kimmy and her new boyfriend while pondering the lack of passion between her and Steve. After Joey pulls an early April Fool's joke on them, the rest of the Tanner household plots to get him back.20. Michelle a la Cart (23:52) (Originally aired March 15, 1994)Gender stereotypes are considered and broken down in this episode, which finds Michelle building a car and racing in a downhill derby as well as Joey taking ballet lessons from Stephanie. In addition, D.J. meets with Steve for the first time since their mountain top break-up. 21. Be Your Own Best Friend (23:46) (Originally aired April 5, 1994)A poorly-designed class project suggested by Danny puts Michelle in a pickle when she has to choose which best friend to trace: Denise or her old pal Teddy (Tahj Mowry), who's back from Texas. Jesse feels left out when Joey and his girlfriend Roxy dominate the Radio Renegades show. 22. A Date with Fate (23:52) (Originally aired May 3, 1994)Deciding it's time to start dating again, both D.J. and Danny go out on Saturday night. Both wind up at the Cafe '80s, where their dates take off with each other. Jesse and his boys prepare to give Becky a special Mother's Day. For all of life's answers, Michelle consults her Magic "Cue" Ball.23. Too Little Richard Too Late (23:52) (Originally aired May 10, 1994)With the art school at Michelle's school threatened, Joey runs for PTA President. His campaign gets helped by Denise's uncle, Little Richard, who makes an appearance at the Smash Club.24. A House Divided (23:46) (Originally aired May 17, 1994)Danny gets a whopping offer to buy the house from a man who grew up there. The promise of more space sounds great to everyone except Michelle, who enlists her friends to help her make sure the house fails its inspection. VIDEO and AUDIOLike any '90s sitcom, "Full House" is presented in 1.33:1 "fullscreen." Picture quality is quite good on the whole, but definitely a little short of perfection. From time to time, there are what would appear to be compression artifacts. With only 6 episodes per disc, though, that doesn't make any sense, and perhaps the original masters and the videotape quality are to be faulted for the momentary and limited blurriness. Obviously, I wasn't expecting a feature film presentation and most of the visual shortcomings are merely inherent in the budgeted production of a sitcom, even one fairly recent and big studio-backed like this. Having watched a little bit of the first three seasons of the show on DVD, Season 7's quality seems comparable, maybe even a little sharper but not without some minor, easy to overlook faults.The Dolby Digital two-channel Stereo soundtrack provides the sufficient but unspectacular sitcom audio experience. Composed chiefly of dialogue and an active laugh/ track, the basic mix squarely meets one's expectations for '90s TV. BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING, and DESIGNThere are no bonus features whatsoever provided. It nearly goes without saying that this is unfortunate and represents a serious missed opportunity. Collectors of "Full House" shouldn't be surprised; the show hasn't had any supplements since Season 3 and even that was merely a montage of Joey impressions. That doesn't make it any less disappointing that all but the first two seasons have shown no effort in the extras department. Making the absence worse is that anyone who's seen one of the still-working cast members on talk show knows that the actors remain very tight. Tight enough for four of Bob Saget's co-stars (Dave Coulier, Lori Laughlin, John Stamos, and Jodie Sweetin) to join him in providing voices for his crude, R-rated direct-to-video film Farce of the Penguins. It seems like they'd be easily able to gather together for a reunion, a retrospective, or even just a commentary. Perhaps they're not all eager to look back, but as this show still represents the best-known and most lucrative credit for each, it's downright disrespectful to fans not to participate in the DVDs and sweeten the package.As on past season sets, the static, pastel main menu is repeated on each disc; it display a group cast photo while looping the theme song. The packaging is identical to the space-saving design employed for Seasons 3 through 6, utilizing two slim, clear keepcases that provide clear and comprehensive episode information (along with stills) on their front and back covers. Underneath the discs of each case, which fit easily and snugly into the provided cardboard box, is a cast photo and list of cast credits. Minor complaint alert: a number of the featured case photos clearly don't originate from Season 7. CLOSING THOUGHTS"Full House" will never be mistaken for high art, but to condemn its conventionality, predictability, and sentimentality is to overlook its enormous entertainment value, both intentional and otherwise. Season 7 probably doesn't rank as a favorite among fans, but it succeeds quite well at covering new ground with all the original elements in place and a few new ones on the side.The complete lack of bonus features is a bummer and there's a little room for improvement in the picture department. But the asking price is reasonable and those who view this as more than a guilty pleasure would be crazy not to add it to their DVD collection, assuming they have the first six seasons already. Fans who have yet to pick up any of the seasons would do just as w


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