When a widower takes on the kids
Full House ABC, Tuesday, 8:30-9 p.m. Network preview of new comedy series before it moves to a regular Friday schedule. ``Everything keeps disappearing,'' says the little girl tearfully. She's talking mainly about the bedroom she's had to give up.Skip to next paragraph
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``I know,'' says her widower dad, with larger meaning. He's talking mainly about his late wife - and the fact he's been left with three young girls to raise.
This telling moment of tragic understanding might have been the basis of a comedy series deeply rooted in human needs. Instead it comes as a quiet aside in the middle of an effortful, semi-slapstick show whose producers' earlier credits include ``Laverne and Shirley.'' The father is Danny, a young sportscaster who enlists the help of two unlikely domestic partners: his brother-in-law, Jesse - a rock-and-rolling free-wheeler - and his friend Joey, a hopeful stand-up comic.
When these two move in, they create the kind of gag potential comedy producers dream of. Jesse - who arrives toting his guitar and full of talk about his Harley - has to change his girl-chasing stories in midstream when he realizes the tots are listening. His taming starts early. So does the show's physical shtick - like the time the baby's diaper is changed in the kitchen, with the aid of tongs, Tupperware, and lots of comic routine.
``Show time,'' says one of the girls as the men carry the baby to change its diapers. The tots get some of the better lines in this show, which at its best is a battle between the household's comic anarchy and the girls' need for normality. When Joey does a bit from his comedy act after a visit from the grandmother, one girl says, ``Think we could catch Grandma at the airport?'' The girls are the voice of viewer doubts - planted in the dialogue as if to say, ``We know it's silly, but bear with us.''
This version of the hapless-dad-in-the-home format takes some bearing. It has lots of laughs but few credible plot crises to draw its energy from. But there are reminders of Dad's plight - as when he stands alone, after his mother leaves, and reflects on the very uncomic reality of dealing with his family's future.