Thursday, April 18, 2024

Benioff and Weiss as Fuller House Showrunners

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Fuller House, my absolute favorite show, is experiencing a shake-up before its fourth season. Showrunner Jeff Franklin was let go, replaced by two of the show’s producers Steve Baldikoski and Bryan Behar. I’m of the firm opinion that any shakeup here is a good shakeup, especially given that Fuller House is so predictable it borders on self-parody at this point. Do I think Baldikoski and Behar will be offering something markedly different, however? …No.

In fact, if there’s one thing I could wish for Fuller House, it would be some bravery. Courage in that good ol’ writers’ room. Who’s famous for that? Why none other than David Benioff and Dan Weiss of Game of Thrones. We’ve been positively giddy around here about the prospect of their Star Wars films-absolutely no sarcasm at all in that statement! So I was thinking, why limit their creative talents? Why not also have them take over Netflix’s finest comedic reboot?

Now, this is not my first rodeo when it comes to speculative “Benioff and Weiss Adapt” scenarios. And as much fun as those are, I should state that here, the dynamic duo (D&D) aren’t adapting the show, but merely continuing. As such, they will be subject to the same restrictions I imagine Netflix put on Fuller House to keep it family friendly. No nudity, no expletives past DJ’s use of over-the-counter medicine brands, and certainly no gore or sexual violence. With that, let’s dive into a bold go-go-go season 4.

D&D Take the Reins

Fuller House left us with a pregnant Kimmy carrying Steph’s baby, DJ accepting a job on Steve’s behalf despite them finally being together (is “finally” the right word?), Jackson in a quasi-relationship with Rocki, Uncle Jesse and Joey returning to San Francisco to reopen the Smash Club, Danny coming back because of some blown network deal, and everyone else in the exact same spot as they were when the show began.

While D&D can’t have anything too dark, what is missing from this show is a villain. Their version of Cersei has obviously been enough of a darling to earn herself the place of villain protagonist for two seasons, so it’s likely a formula they’d want to repeat. Given that Jodie Sweetin is the only one in the cast with any kind of acting chops, she’s the logical choice for it. But how? She’s in a fairly good place since the in vitro went so smoothly.

Well, clearly a woman’s only tenuous grasp on her humanity is through children, so Kimmy needs to lose the baby. It’s a bit grim, though Fuller House is no stranger to character set-backs where the parents end up explaining how sometimes bad things happen. This emotional toil causes Steph to snap. She drinks a lot of wine, and no longer is able to be loving towards her nephews. With DJ, she’s jealous of the life she has. Steph will continue to live in that house, but she refuses to do any more she-wolf howls, instead teaming up with her evhul friend Gia Mahan.

Together, the two of them plot revenge. At first Kimmy is the target, but when it’s made clear she did everything she could to protect the baby, they blame faulty eggs. To the fertility clinic! Steph and Mia empoweredly burn the place down, because “no woman should have to go through this.” The feminist credentials write themselves.

Now, Jimmy, Steph’s completely idiotic boyfriend, will get a much more sympathetic rewrite. He’ll finally realize she’s a monster, which everyone else knows of course, and break up with her. Not because of what she’s going through, but because she withheld her revenge plan from him and confided in Mia instead.

He ends up going on a wacky vacation to Argentina with Fernando in an attempt to cheer up.

This subplot takes up two full episodes, when the buddy duo fall into unexpected trouble with the law. You see, Fernando had a lot of debt that he never cleared! They end up escaping with a zany chase scene. Fernando gets a significant scratch on his face. Michele Clapton, brought on as the new costume designer, gives him one-sided zippers for the rest of the season to help highlight how deeply he feels this.

Even though the Matt/Steve/DJ love triangle has been more or less resolved, D&D become determined to “fix” the outcome so that Matt ends up being her choice. They view him as the far more attractive partner since he’s fit and “tough.” Steve could have just been written off the show with his new job, yet D&D bring him back and throw him in lots of scenes with Matt, so that the two of them can talk about how the other one is in love with her. They get along, it’s just…funny. That they both like the same woman.

They both end up trying to help DJ with her vet business, though Matt is clearly the better partner (it’s never addressed why Steve, a podiatrist, would have attempted this in the first place). Once DJ picks him to be her business partner, Steve disappears from the show entirely. DJ finally takes Matt back in an episode where Cosmo dies and she fails to save him. She realizes that she needs Matt in her life and practice, and that she’s been blind to him this whole time. It’s never addressed that she chose Steve over him the season prior.

Speaking of love triangles, D&D become very invested in the idea of pairing Ramona with Jackson, since he is a Nice Guy™. Rocki is still in the picture, and suddenly committed to being his girlfriend, so she and Ramona drop all pretenses of a friendship and are catty with each other. There’s an episode devoted to this causing problems at school and disrupting classes. Jackson hilariously can’t decide, and the big season finale shocker is a rumble in the school cafeteria. It’s unclear who “wins” as there needs to be a cliffhanger.

DJ’s younger two children both get recast. Tommy is replaced with an even smaller baby, though nothing changes. He just has to be carried around now. Max gets replaced with Dean Charles-Chapman, still serving as an elementary schooler. His personality and voice aren’t anywhere near the same, but he still wears bow ties now and then. His role is also heavily dialed back, mostly just existing to help highlight what an irresponsible babysitter Steph has become ever since Kimmy’s miscarriage. Four episodes might go by where neither of these boys are seen.

Uncle Jesse and Danny are both foregrounded, with Uncle Joey used very sparingly. There’s no reason he isn’t around when Jesse is, he just…isn’t. Danny, meanwhile, is almost always sitting on the couch in DJ’s living room. He delivers lots of long monologues about moments from Full House, and getting old. Sometimes it seems like he’s repeating himself, but the camera never cuts away despite that.

Jesse, meanwhile, cannibalizes most of the season with his Smash Club revival. His mission in life is to get everyone around him to eat, drink, and be merry. Kimmy is working for him to help successfully relaunch the club, but there’s an odd character reversal where she’s trying to be assiduous and do her job, and Jesse is trying to be fun. At the end of the season, Kimmy tells Jesse how he surpassed all her party planning expectations, and she’d love to have him continue as a partner in her business given his natural talent.

Now of course, all these ideas combined probably amount to 10 episodes of content. Yet never fear: D&D still script 13! In order to pad the extra 60 minutes, we get lots of longer, stylized artistic shots. It takes at least 2 full minutes for DJ to remove cold cuts from her fridge. We see Jesse’s entire ride from the house to the Smash Club. Every school scene starts with at least 20 seconds of students filing into the classroom. The slower pace indicates that it’s now a much more meaningful show.

While much of what I described might seem like a poor fit for Fuller House, what you have to remember is that this is the face of BOLD television, even in a PG framework. So while Baldikoski and Behar have some mighty shoes to fill in order to keep the show up to its glorious standard, in the hands of true showrunners, it’s clear the potential has no limits.

Images courtesy of Netflix

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