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Friday, June 14, 2013

The Fathers of "Full House"

I am going to warn you ahead of time before I commence with today's blog entry about tomorrow's entry, and why it might appear a little bit scatterbrained.

I am sure that most of you probably know this by now, but later on today, I will be participating in the Relay for Life event in my hometown. It's an annual event in which local businesses and teams of people all join together for one eradicate cancer once and for all by raising money in support of financing valuable research that will hopefully lead to a permanent cure. I decided to sign up this year in memory of my friend Alex, as well as in memory of my grandfather who passed away thirteen years ago from lung cancer.

Now, on one hand, I think the event is going to be a lot of fun. The way the event works is that there is a huge circular track that people are supposed to walk around, and the rules state that a team must have at least ONE person on the track at any given time. You may switch members off every hour or so, but you have to have at least one person representing each team. But don't think that the people sitting on the sidelines will have absolutely nothing to do. There's going to be live entertainment, as well as special theme hours every so often.

I know that there's a survivor walk (where cancer survivors do a lap around the track), there's the lighting of the luminaries that encircle the track, there's a scheduled hour where we wear the colour shirt of the cancer that we are fighting against (for example, if you're leading the fight against prostate cancer, you'll be wearing light blue), there's a Halloween themed event where people are encouraged to dress up in silly costumes to collect candy, and I believe that there is a Hawaiian hour as well as an event called “Relay's Got Talent”.

(And, that last one...”Relay's Got Talent”? I may have something planned for that...if I can get over my stage fright, that is.)

I think that the night is going to be a fun one...and considering that one of my goals for this year is to interact more with my community, this is the perfect event to do exactly that.

But there's one catch. I have to stay awake for twelve hours straight. And, in all likelihood, I'll be walking around the track for at least half of those twelve hours. Therefore, I warn you that if I am able to be coherent when I get back home on Saturday morning, my blog entry may not be as...shall we say...coherent as other ones in the past. In fact, I may end up waiting until later that night to write about my experiences with the Relay for Life. So, if my Saturday, June 15 entry is really, really will know why.

I'm hoping to experience everything there, and I just bought some new batteries for my digital camera, so I'm hoping that I can get some snapshots of the night.

So, with that out of the way, we can now focus on today's Friday blog (which I am actually writing on late Thursday night as I will largely be unavailable on Friday). And, in addition to this weekend being the Relay for Life, it also happens to be Father's Day this upcoming Sunday, June 16. So, I thought that for this edition of the blog, I'd focus on a show that featured great fathers at work.

But I'm not going to be talking about a show with just one father. Certainly we have had stellar television dads over the years such as Ward Cleaver, Cliff Huxtable, Jim Anderson, and even Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor! But, why have just one father featured in a sitcom when you could have three?

Well, okay. Technically, one of the men in this sitcom had no children of his own. But he loved the three children of his childhood best friend so much that they may just as well have been his own. And, okay, the other man wasn't a father when he moved into the home of his brother-in-law. But he loved his three nieces very much, and he did everything for them. In fact, it was his experience with helping his brother-in-law raise the three girls that gave him the experience necessary to raise his own children.

But they all happened to live in the same house (which is surprising, given how tiny the home looked whenever the exterior shots of the home were featured), and for eight seasons, the non-traditional set up transitioned into a fairly strong family unit.

A family unit that included two dads, and a psuedo dad who carried around a woodchuck puppet.

This is the blog entry on Danny Tanner, Jesse Katsopolis, and Joey Gladstone, and their “Full House” of kids.

What better show to devote a “Father's Day” theme towards?

Okay, so you don't need me to spill any technical stuff on the television show “Full House”. I've already done a couple of entries on the show itself, so you know that it ran for eight years between 1987 and 1995, that it was a show that was loved by children and families, but slammed by critics, and that it helped make Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen household names.

What I'm going to talk about is the show itself...specifically the three male stars of the show – Bob Saget, who played Danny Tanner, John Stamos, who played Jesse Katsopolis, and Dave Coulier, who played Joey Gladstone.

So, how did Danny, Joey, and Jesse end up living together in the same house? Well, we're going to have to go back to a time period before the show actually began.

You see, when Danny was a teenager, he fell in love with a woman named Pamela Katsopolis (and no, that name is not a fluke...Pam was Jesse's sister). They got married very young (like immediately after high school), and over the next decade, they had three daughters together. Donna Jo “DJ” (Candace Cameron), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and Michelle (the Olsen Twins). And, for a while, the Tanner family was happy.

But tragedy struck when Pam was killed by a drunk driver. And, poor Danny was left with the responsibility of raising his three girls without Pam.

For about six months, Danny certainly tried his best with raising DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle as a single parent, but it was a lot harder than he anticipated. And, by the time that the pilot episode of “Full House” aired in September 1987, Danny had invited a couple of people to help him with the girls.

Since Danny was married to Pam, it was only natural for Jesse to immediately agree to moving into the Tanner household. Though I'm sure he wasn't counting on moving into a bedroom with bright pink rabbits all over the walls, he loved his nieces more than anything, and he'd “happily” accept a few bunnies if it meant that he could help Danny raise his sister's children.

And, hey, at least Jesse got a room. When Danny's best friend Joey Gladstone was also asked by Danny to move in with him, all Joey ended up with was the alcove in the family living room! But Joey did eventually get his own room midway through season one, and although he was not biologically related to anyone in the Tanner household, he was so close to the girls that he was basically made an honourary member of the Tanner household anyway.

And, you know, as cheesy and sugary sweet as the show is, I will give “Full House” a lot of credit. Not only did the show feature the girls growing up into responsible young adults (well, okay, maybe in the case of DJ and possibly Stephanie, this was the case), but the men of the household grew into their responsibilities and became better men as a result. Danny went from a sportscaster to a successful talk show host alongside co-host Rebecca Donaldson (Lori Loughlin), who would eventually fall in love and marry Jesse. Jesse went from being the lead singer of a rock band to working at an ad agency, to becoming a successful radio announcer. And, in the case of those last two jobs, Jesse ended up working alongside the man who would later become his best friend, Joey. But, don't think that Joey was completely dependent on Jesse to have success. Joey was a successful stand-up comic in his own right, and even hosted a kids show for a season or two!

Of course, the best job that all three men would grow into and absolutely love would be the role of father (or, in the case of Joey, a surrogate father). Danny did everything he could for his three girls, and later on in the series, Jesse became a father himself when he and Rebecca had twin boys, Nicky and Alex.

But one thing that I kind of noticed about the series was that each of the three men kind of had a special relationship with one of the three girls. That's not to say that the men played favourites by any means...all of them loved the three girls equally. But on the show, there seemed to be some ties that were stronger than others.

I mean, let's take Jesse for instance. In the early seasons of the show, he shared many, many scenes with DJ and Stephanie. But little Michelle always seemed to be the one to capture his heart from the very beginning. It was Michelle that convinced Jesse to stay at the Tanner household both times he almost moved out for good. It was Michelle that helped Jesse grieve the loss of his beloved grandfather (affectionately named Papouli). And, would you believe that Jesse wrote Michelle her very own song?

As I said before, Jesse loved all three girls very much...but there was just something about Michelle that made Jesse's heart turn to mush. In fact, I think Michelle shared more scenes with Jesse than she shared with any other cast member in the whole series. It just goes to show just how strong a bond they had.

Now, Stephanie is another one who had a strong bond with Jesse. Jesse after all helped her save a friend from being abused by his father, and it was because of him that Stephanie became friends with a girl named Gia. But as strong as Stephanie's relationship was with Jesse, I do think that Stephanie is a Daddy's Girl.

Truth is that while Danny would never favour one child over another, he certainly has had a lot of scenes with Stephanie. He certainly was very understanding with her when Stephanie accidentally smashed a car through the kitchen window...probably even more understanding than my own dad would have been if I had done the same thing. But, the truth is that Danny has been there for Stephanie a lot. He had a long talk with Stephanie about the dangers of smoking, and he helped get Stephanie out of a couple of jams that she had gotten herself into as a teenager. Certainly, Stephanie was not always the most well-behaved member of the Tanner household, but she knew that she could always count on her father to be there for her and love her unconditionally regardless of how badly she screwed up. Though when the show wrote in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake into the plot of an episode, there was an instance in which Stephanie was terrified of leaving Danny out of her sight. It took a long talk with an expert to get Stephanie and Danny to work through the fear that Stephanie was feeling. But eventually, it all worked out for the best.

Now, DJ was a hard one to assign to one particular person. DJ often relied on her father for romance advice, but also had to deal with his overprotective attitude...especially when it came to her dating for the first time. And, DJ did have a rather interesting relationship with Jesse over the years, as Jesse often helped DJ show off her wild side every now and again (within reason, of course).

But the more I think about it, the more I think that DJ's strongest relationship in the Tanner household was with Joey. Think about it for a second. Joey was always the goofy, wisecracking guy who very rarely took things seriously...which made him the “fun parent” of sorts. And certainly whenever Stephanie or Michelle were involved in the light-hearted B-plots, they were almost always with Joey.

Joey and DJ? Well, to be honest, I think Joey was at his most serious and most real whenever he spent time with DJ. I suppose part of that could have been because DJ was the oldest child, and she kind of tempered Joey's immaturity quite a bit. But, I also seem to recall Joey actually disciplining DJ more than her own father did! Remember when DJ faked sick to go and get Stacey Q's autograph, only for Joey to bust her and drag her back home on a leash? Remember when DJ sassed Joey back with the “you aren't my father” remark after Joey grounded her from attending a karate tournament for breaking the household rules? I think those were the only times in which I ever really saw serious Joey come out. I think that DJ really helped Joey come to terms with the fact that he was an adult, and DJ helped Joey become a lot more responsible as a result of it. Mind you, DJ loved seeing Joey's goofy side's just that her relationship with Joey was one in which she helped temper him, I feel. And, also note that when DJ turned sixteen, it was Joey who bought her a car, not Danny.

Mind you, the car turned out to be STOLEN...but it was the thought that counted.

No matter what combination of kid and dad that we saw on the program though...there's one thing that I can say. While it's true that the Tanner family household was quite different from other families out there, it should become clear that any group of people can become a family if there's enough love to go around.

And, while “Full House” was a fictional program, in real life, there are all different kinds of families out there. There's your stereotypical nuclear family, but we also have single parent homes, homes with two moms or two dads, homes made up of adopted children, and even homes which have people who have absolutely no blood relation to each other whatsoever, but still call themselves family. And, as far as I am concerned, as long as there is love keeping them together and that the kids are growing up in a happy and healthy environment, that's the best kind of family right there!

Happy Father's Day weekend, everyone! And, do wish me luck on the Relay for Life!

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