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Halloween On Full House

When you watch sitcoms from the 90s, you'll likely see some great holiday episodes.  For Halloween, you'd see elaborate costumes as everyone attended a heavily decorated house party filled with Halloween spirit.  Cobwebs, pumpkins, skeletons, black cats, witches, and more would fill your screen during those 30 minutes for the annual holiday celebration.  

Halloween was often considered a special event on those shows, and it's how I've always felt that real life should have been.  It was a version of Halloween that was safe, kid-friendly, and just a tiny bit spooky.  

In previous years, I've talked about how, given we all watched too much television as kids back then, most of us collectively feel the sitcom version of Halloween was how it actually happened.   

My childhood Halloweens usually went about the same way each year.  My brother and I would rush out to collect candy and call it a night after hitting our neighborhood's 15 or so houses.  We'd hurry home to count our loot in front of the television, tuned into those past Halloween specials that we all now greatly cherish.  Fox's Halloween Bash, anyone?

Sitcoms in the 80s and 90s got the holidays right, and that's why, for the past three years, I've covered classic sitcoms and their special holiday episodes.  You can find the "Holidays On..." series on Home Improvement, Roseanne, and Frasier in the Collections section anytime you'd like.

I listen to quite a few podcasts, and a few years ago, I began listening to a new show that would offer an episodic look back at one of my favorite shows growing up from the star of the show himself.  That would be "Zack to the Future," starring Mark-Paul Gossellarr and Saved by the Bell.  The show called it quits after the second season, but it started a trend in classic television stars getting back together to review their past series for their rabidly nostalgic fanbase.  Recently, I've been really enjoying "Pod Meets World," which covers Boy Meets World, but this summer (2023),  a "spin-off" of Pod Meets World debuted that really caught my attention.  

This spin-off, "How Rude, Tanneritos!" features Jodie Sweeten and Andrea Barber as the two real-life friends begin their episodic reviews of one of my favorite shows as a child, Full House.  At the same time, Dave Coulier began his own tell-all podcast about Full House titled "Full House Rewind," which immediately went on hiatus to support the writer's and actor's strike.  

These new podcasts are fun ways to learn about their experience making the series while reminiscing on my experience watching the show during my childhood.  Because I've had so much fun reflecting on it, for this year, I've selected another classic sitcom for our annual YesterYear holiday series:  Full House!  

Full House needs no introduction to folks of my generation.  The show is about widowed father Danny Tanner (Bob Saget), who invites his brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos) and childhood best friend Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier) to move into his home to help raise his three daughters.  His daughters, D.J. (Candace Cameron), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and Michelle (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson), grew up in the loving Tanner family home in San Francisco while we viewers received healthy doses of laughter and life lessons with each episode.  

The series was consistently in the Top 30 Shows (according to Nielsen's) and continues to gain popularity with new fans every year thanks to syndicated reruns and the recent sequel series on Netflix titled "Fuller House."  Fuller House ran on Netflix for five seasons between 2016 and 2020.  

Full House ran on ABC from September 22, 1987, to May 23, 1995.  Debuting in what is typically television's "death slot," Fridays at 8:00PM, Full House failed to gain momentum during its first season without a popular lead-in audience.  After the winter break, the show was moved to 8:30PM, where it began to gain an audience following the hit sitcom Perfect Strangers.  

ABC began to build its popular 80s and 90s programming block, TGIF, around Full House after Season Three, when it became a ratings stronghold.  Full House was moved back to 8:00PM to anchor other popular shows, Family Matters and Perfect Strangers.  Full House led the TGIF lineup until the fall of 1991 when the show was moved to Tuesday evenings, where it remained until its finale in 1995.

While the show remained in the Top 25, ABC announced it was canceling the show after the eighth season, citing increased production costs.  The WB offered to pick up the series for a Season Nine, but John Stamos decided that his time on Full House was over, and the deal fell apart without him.

Originally titled "House of Comics," show creator Jeff Franklin had pitched a show about three single guys sharing a home while they tried to make it in the booming world of 1980s stand-up comedy.  He claims he had no details besides that, and when Lorimar Productions asked who the characters were, he didn't know because he was planning on using real-life comics to play themselves.  When Lorimar and ABC asked to meet with Franklin under the condition that he created a family show, he turned the "House of Comics" concept into something very similar to what we now know as "Full House."  He decided to make one comic a widower with three kids, including an infant.  Franklin told Variety that he included an infant because "it's one less character to write for."  The three comics eventually morphed into one comedian, a television host, and a rock and roll singer.  

After offering his updated vision of the show to ABC, they ordered a pilot the very next day.  

The roles that went to Stamos, Coulier, Cameron, Sweetin, and the Olsen twins were cast quite quickly.  Casting the role of Danny Tanner proved a problem, as Franklin wanted Bob Saget or Paul Reiser, both popular comedians of the time.  Reiser had already agreed to star in the new sitcom "My Two Dads," and Saget was under contract to "The Morning Program" on CBS.

After hundreds of comics auditioned for the role, John Posey was cast at the last minute.  After the pilot was filmed, Posey was replaced with Bob Saget, who had recently been released from his job at CBS.  They reshot the scenes that included Posey, replacing him with Saget's much less over-the-top version of Danny Tanner.  You can watch the clips featuring Posey below.  

From the beginning, Jodie Sweetin was considered the one to become the show's breakout star.  She was a cute five-year-old with comedy chops that producers related to Shirley Temple.  However, by the end of the first season or two, it was clear that twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen would steal the show.  

The sequence during the pilot episode where Jesse and Joey (Stamos and Coulier) improvised their first diaper change was the highest-scoring scene from a test audience for a sitcom ever (at the time).  ABC ordered a 13-episode first season based on that scene alone. 

All seven original cast members remained with the show throughout its entire run, adding five characters to the main cast along the way.  D.J.'s best friend Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) became a recurring character that upgraded to a regular in season five.  Rebecca "Aunt Becky" Donaldson (Lori Loughlin) was initially hired for just a six-episode love story arc in Season Two with Stamos' Uncle Jesse but remained on the show until the end.  Jesse and Becky's twin boys, Nicky and Alex (Daniel and Kevin Renteria and later replaced by Blake and Dylan Tuomy), began appearing in Season Six.  In Season Six and Seven, D.J.'s boyfriend Steve (Scott Weinger) also joined the cast.

When I was young, TGIF on ABC was appointment television.  It was must-see TV (sorry, NBC) before we were all old enough to go out on Friday evenings.  In my case, that continued long after I was old enough to go out with friends, but I usually was either not invited or would rather have been home watching my favorite television programs, which often included Full House.  

Like during our previous look-backs for other sitcoms, not every episode at the end of October covered or even mentioned Halloween.  As a matter of fact, only TWO episodes during the eight-season run of Full House touched on Halloween.  How rude!

This year, because the series I've selected only has two Halloween episodes, I've included a non-Halloween episode that provides a few family-friendly frights into your Halloween streaming session of Full House!

Season Two:  "It's Not My Job" (S2 E3) Originally Aired October 28, 1988

Stephanie hops into the Tanner living room dressed like a bunny, ready for Trick-or-Treating.  D.J. walks like an Egyptian from the kitchen, decked out in a pretty elaborate Cleopatra costume.  She sighs and laments that her father, Danny, wouldn't let her dress up like Elvira.  An Elvira reference on Full House!  It certainly was 1988, and "Mistress of the Dark" was hitting the theaters.   

A pretty iconic scene from the show's history soon follows as Danny, Joey, and Jesse appear in the kitchen doorway dressed as the Three Stooges.  Jesse is Moe, Danny is Larry, and Joey is Curly.

They perform a brief slapstick comedy routine, and Danny thinks they're a lock for the costume contest... until toddler Michelle walks in dressed in an adorable pumpkin costume as we head into the iconic theme song.

After the opening, we don't get another Halloween mention for the rest of the show.  

Jesse and his band are rehearsing a jingle for an advertisement in the living room as Jesse hopes to use this jingle to kick off his music career.  Danny and DJ come home and brag about not having any cavities at the dentist.  As she, Jesse, and Joey celebrate her good dental hygiene, Stephanie comes in and is upset because she has a cavity and needs a filling.  

A few days later, Kimmie Gibler is in DJ's bedroom, copying her homework, even copying down DJ's name.  Stephanie is so worried about the cavity that she's been brushing her teeth for three days straight, and when Kimmie Gibbler tries to scare her by telling her a story about a girl named Kathy Santoniwho went in for a filling but came out with her mouth wired shut.  Stephanie is now so concerned that she begins cleaning her teeth with two brushes at once.  

Kathy Santoni is a name that comes up occasionally in the early seasons of Full House, either based on jealousy or scorn from Kimmie and DJ.  She only physically appeared in four episodes of Season Three, and the character and actress were brought back many years later for an episode of Fuller House.

Danny shows up in the girl's bedroom with his in-laws (and Jesse's parents), Grandma and Grandpa (Irene and Nick) Katsopolis.  When Danny and Irene leave, Nick slips the girls $5 as "their little secret."  

Meanwhile, Joey is cooking dinner, and Irene kicks him out of the kitchen.  Nick is busy obsessing over baby Michelle's cuteness.  He decides he wants another baby, and Irene blows him off as crazy.  She uses a great line: "If your brain was a pasture, your sheep would starve."  Nick's manhood is offended, and asks if she thinks he's out of gas.  Seductively, she calls him a Texaco station, and we find out where Jesse gets his catchphrase from as Nick mutters, "HAVE MERCY!"  The girls interrupt and say Jesse has big news, and when Nick walks off, Irene slips the girls $5 as "their little secret."  

Jesse excitedly tells the family that he sold his first jingle!  Everyone is happy for him except Nick, who expects him to work extra hours for the family extermination business.  Later that night, Jesse's mother convinces him to tell his father that he wants out of the family business.   Nick is hugely disappointed and threatens to disown his only son.  

Jesse is devastated and mopes around the house for the next few days, while Stephanie worries about her trip to the dentist.  Joey takes her to her appointment and gets her to act on her strength and courage.  Before she knows it, Stephanie's cavity has been filled, and she's ready to go home.  She returns home, excited to show off her goodie bag from the dentist- toothbrush, floss, and sugarless gum.  

Irene and Nick show up while Jesse and Michelle sing "I Got You Babe."  Nick and Jesse haven't talked in many days and begin to make small talk that quickly gets heated.  Irene hands her husband Michelle, and he immediately turns into a softie, unable to be mad while holding the baby.  Jesse begs his father to understand, and Nick admits he's proud of him for growing up to be the kind of man he respects.  

To Jesse's shock, his father tells him he's proud that Jesse has grown up and stepped up like a man, moving in with Danny after his sister (Danny's wife) died to help raise the three girls.  The show ends on a happy note when Nick says that while he'll never be happy about the "music thing," he will always be in his corner because he's his 'old man.'  

Season Three:  "Divorce Court" (S3 E8) Originally Aired November 17, 1988

During the opening, Michelle asks Jesse how to snap her fingers to music.  He brushes it off as a grown-up thing, but Michelle figures out how to do it alone.  He calls her a "show-off," and the two snap their fingers to Michelle's swingin' version of Jingle Bells.  

After the opening title sequence, Stephanie is in her bedroom with Jimmy and Walter, two boys from school, playing a form of cops and robbers with make-believe finger guns.  D.J. enters with Kimmy Gibbler and Monica, another friend from school.  DJ is upset to see Stephanie and her friends.

Stephanie asks DJ about their costume plans for the Halloween Carnival.  Steph plans on dressing up as Batman, or Wonderwoman, or... Connie Chung.  Connie Chung, for those who don't remember, was a famous newscaster for NBC and CBS during the time period.  Kimmy makes another Kathy Santoni reference by telling Stephanie that DJ won't be attending the "Kiddie Carnival" but instead attending the teenager party at Kathy Santoni's.  

Stephanie is upset, and D.J. blows her off because "she's in Junior High now" and won't be going.  She then kicks Steph and her friends out of the room to discuss boys and rate them on the "Gibbler scale of studliness."

In the backyard, Joey and Danny play football with Michelle.  Jesse and Becky arrive, and the guys discuss who is the most athletic.  The three agree to race each other at the high school track to settle who is still in the best shape.  

The girls interrupt amidst the boy's argument.  Danny sends the girl's friends home and demands the two apologize and hug each other.  He sends the girls to their room and won't let them out until they make up.  While in their bedroom, the two girls create a plan to pretend to get along just to end their punishment.  Danny is fooled, and the punishment is lifted.  

When Danny is gone, Stephanie announces that she wants a divorce and plans to move in with Michelle.  D.J. is excited and starts to call Kimmy to tell her that she now has a room to herself, but Stephanie takes half of everything, including the phone.  

She moves her bed, lamp, toy chest, and Mr. Bear into Michelle's room.  Jesse comes in, and Michelle calls Stephanie the boss.  Jesse notices that Stephanie has started bossing Michelle around because she's older, just like D.J. did to her.  Michelle decides to make herself "the boss."  

Becky surprises Danny at the track by bringing the "Wake Up, San Francisco" crew to film the race.  The winner will decide on the loser's Halloween costumes to raise the stakes.  Danny begs them to let him win so he doesn't look bad on his television show, but they refuse.  The boys are exhausted as they round the track, and Danny suggests they cross the finish line together so everyone saves face.  They all collapse in a heap at the finish line, but the photo finish proves that Danny won "by a nose."  Literally.

In one of the few Halloween references of the episode, Danny yells out "Trick or Treat, Boys!" in victory.

When they return home, Stephanie demands her room back, and Danny is upset when he learns the hug he saw the night before was fake. D.J. pleads for privacy because Stephanie always listens to her phone calls or bugs her when she has her friends over.  Stephanie explains that she left D.J.'s room because she couldn't live with the "grown-up" version of her sister and misses her best friend from when they were younger.  Stephanie thinks D.J. doesn't like her anymore.  

Hearing this, D.J. felt guilty for making Stephanie feel she didn't care about her.  Danny decides not to give D.J. her room right now because Michelle is too young for a roommate, while Jesse and Joey remind the girls that one day, they'll realize how lucky they are to have one another.

The two sisters are dressed up in a great Joker (D.J.) and Batman (Stephanie) costume since this is 1989 and Batman is the hottest film of the year.  The two have a heart-to-heart, and Stephanie says she looks up to her big sister.  D.J. agrees to go to Stephanie's party but will attend Kathy Santoni's get-together afterward.  As they hug, Michelle comes in dressed as a cat.  Jesse and Joey walk in moments later, embarrassed of the little girl costumes that Danny picked for them.  

Season Seven:  "It was a Dark and Stormy Night" (S7 E1) Originally Aired September 14, 1993

This show has nothing to do with Halloween, but it's about as spooky as Full House gets, so that's enough to include on this list. 

After the opening, we find ourselves at summer camp.  Michelle and her friends reminisce about their summer as they prepare for their final night in camp.  Counselors D.J. and Kimmy Gibbler come in and try to get the girls to bed so the counselors can all party.  Steve Hale, D.J.'s boyfriend, arrives, and the girls call him D.J.'s husband.  They kiss to emphatic "Woooos" from the girls.  

The girls ask Steve to tell them the story he promised about "that maniac guy."  Since it's the final night, he finally agrees and tells them about "Old Man Cropsy."  The story is goofy and spooky, and the girls are terrified when Steve says that the camp was built on Old Man Cropsy's grave.  And the half-man, half-mud comes looking for scared little campers whenever it rains.  The girls scream and jump into bed.  

The following day, while Joey and Jesse have breakfast, the door opens, and Michelle, Stephanie, D.J., Steve, and Kimmy return home from their summer at Camp Lakota.  Stephanie and D.J. excitedly recall their summer, and Michelle tells Jesse that she no longer wants him to call her "Munchkin," a name he's used since the beginning of the series.  She now wants to go by her camp nickname, "Trail Mix."  Stephanie runs off to write letters to the boys she met at camp, while D.J. wants to call Steve because this is the longest they've been apart all summer.  The girls clearly miss camp, and Danny feels dejected that the girls didn't miss him very much.  

Michelle lets it slip up in their room that she brought Gilbert, her camp pet rabbit, home.  Danny enters to collect the laundry and sees Gilbert.  Stephanie said Trail-Mix was supposed to let him go in the woods before she came home.  Steve shows up and, after a discussion with Danny, takes Gilbert and the girls back to Camp Lakota to let him go.  

A heavy thunderstorm in the area forces them back into the same cabin they occupied while the camp was in session.  The furniture has been put away, and the girls marvel at how different it looks.  Michelle opens the box Gilbert was in, but he's missing.  

Even worse, Steve's car is now stuck in the mud.  When Steve mentions mud, Michelle freaks out about the Cropsy Maniac, who Steve had previously said comes around when it rains.  The thunder roars, lightning crashes, and thoughts of Cropsy cause Michelle to freak out.  

Back at home, Becky and Jesse try to help the twins fall asleep in their new race car beds, but they fall asleep in their son's beds.  The two boys sneak out of the race car beds and into the "big comfy bed."

Back at Camp Lakota, the younger girls wait for D.J. and Steve to return from getting the car out of the mud.  Michelle is so worried about Cropsy that she's begun to scare Stephanie.  The power goes out just as Steve and D.J. return to the cabin, unable to free the car from the mud. 

Suddenly, they hear a moan from outside.  The door opens, and a man in a rain slicker covered in mud stands in the door frame.  The girls are screaming, thinking it's the Cropsy Mud-Man, and Steve grabs him in a wrestling headlock.  Danny quickly arrives at the door and mentions that Joey had fallen in the mud and that Joey was the one currently in Steve's headlock.  

Danny found Gilbert at home and brought him to the camp to be let go.  As Michelle hugs her rabbit,  the electricity comes back on, and the rain is letting up.  Steph and D.J. can't wait to leave, and Michelle asks why they even returned to Camp Lakota.  Danny says it's because Lakota was a place they loved, filled with friends and laughter, but when they saw how empty it was, they felt let down.  

Michelle releases Gilbert back in the forest, takes one last sad look at the place, and turns the lights off before going home.  

That night, everyone is enjoying a S'More from the fireplace in the Tanner home.  The girls admit they missed a lot at home, making Danny feel better.  Michelle asks Jesse to start calling her Munchkin again, and Jesse feels better, too.