enter the gibbler

Episode 03: Season One – The First Day of School

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Finally, things are heating up – with the first real appearance of one of sitcoms’ strangest creatures – Kimmy Gibbler. DJ and Kimmy discuss sitting in the back row at school so they can pass notes to each other. They’re looking forward to school a hell of a lot more than poor Stephanie, who realizes she has nothing to wear on the first day of kindergarten. So far, pretty tame stuff – average problems you might witness in any normal family. Hell, if I didn’t know better I would say this freaky family is finally starting to find its feet. And frankly, I don’t fucking like it.

Kimmy says she’ll sit anywhere as long as it isn’t next to Arthur Wilcox. The thought of this disgusting little creep makes both girls scream ewww in perfect unison. Alright, Full House – is this The Babysitter’s Club? I’m starting to get bored here. Shouldn’t Joey have reared his ugly head by now? I can’t believe I’m actually having Joey withdrawals. Anyway, DJ and Kimmy’s apparent repulsion over Arthur makes Stephanie realize she could find herself on the receiving end of similar teasing.

The girls tell Stephanie the only thing she needs to know in kindergarten is the Pledge of Allegiance, which they rattle off at an insane speed, intimidating Stephanie even further. Jesse and Joey enter the room, carrying Michelle as though she’s some sort of accessory. You would be forgiven for thinking they’re a gay couple and this is their adopted baby because three episodes in and, you know, they appear to be raising her more than her real dad. Jesse tells Kimmy her parents are downstairs waiting for her.

Kimmy is worried she might get in trouble as it’s the third time she’s been late today. DJ suggests she simply set her watch back thirty minutes, you know, like a deliberate lie. Neither Joey nor Jesse takes the opportunity to recommend an honest approach but who cares because… what the fuck happened to that baby?! She’s completely covered in food. My first guess was that Joey had tried feeding Michelle by putting food in his mouth and spitting it in her general direction. However, it turns out this was all Michelle’s doing – at least that’s the story they’re going with.

Joey and Jesse decide Michelle needs a bath and this time the hose in the kitchen sink isn’t going to cut it. I let out a huge sigh of relief when Jesse opens the shower curtain to reveal Joey standing there wearing a life preserver, a swimming cap, and a pair of goggles. This is the type of bullshit I have been fiending for. Jesse proclaims this sight as the most terrifying shower scene since Psycho, and he’s not far off for once. The girls come running in to watch what will no doubt be some ridiculous shit but they’re kicked out.

It’s at this random moment that Joey finds out that one of the better stand-up comics and his club got sick and he’ll be performing at 9:30 instead of 1:30. Joey points out this is Prime Time. Now, I’ve never run a comedy club, but I would hazard a guess that the club owner would sooner raze the building to the ground than let a comedian that bad on stage.

Joey doesn’t know what joke he should open with which is a good sign he might bomb and this episode might actually find its way into my top 10. We cut to later in the night when Stephanie wakes up DJ to show her the outfit she has picked out. DJ couldn’t care less, so Stephanie pulls out the big guns and starts to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Unfortunately for her she only gets about 25% of it correct, and that’s probably being generous.

We cut back to Joey and Jessie in the bathroom – they’ve just finished bathing Michelle. I can only assume since it took them 17 minutes to change a diaper, that a bath probably takes them about two to three hours. In any case the baby is clean, they didn’t need a pot, and she’s not wrapped in a half dozen towels. They are making progress.

Jesse mentions he has a date tonight and Joey assumes it’s gonna be another exotic dancer. It’s a little surprising given that I would have assumed a squeaky clean show like this wouldn’t mention topless dancers. Joey reveals that he’s been doing comedy since he was four-years-old. From the sounds of things he’s been using that same material this whole time. He’s hoping tonight is his big break and reveals that he’s always just wanted to make people happy.

Jesse finds a way to shift the conversation over to him, saying he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up the moment he saw Elvis Presley in King Creole. Tired of Dave Coulier having a monopoly on embarrassing moments, John Stamos then goes all out with a corny impression of The King. Joey loves it and begs for another song… you know, for Michelle. Sure Joey, for Michelle.

Jesse then finds himself serenading Joey – they gaze stupidly into each others eyes until it becomes apparent that Danny is in the bathroom with them. Danny makes some obligatory I just walked in on something weird comments and picks up Michelle to take her to bed. Three episodes in and once again Danny shows up when all the hard work is done. This can’t be a coincidence.

Danny goes to check on DJ and Steph and is happy to find them both sound asleep because he didn’t come home to take on father duties. Stephanie calls out, “Hi Daddy!” followed by DJ revealing that she is also wide awake. Stephanie shows Danny the ridiculous dress she’s planning on wearing to school, and DJ admits she’s probably to blame for the suggestion.

The next morning they all find themselves in the kitchen at the exact same time.

Joey alludes to the fact that his comedy set didn’t go as well as it could have and Jesse admits that he sang Elvis songs for a lot longer than anyone could have imagined or enjoyed. Danny refers to himself as Chef Boyardad and hypes up his homemade lunches. Hey, it turns out this guy can be a good father after all. Not only that but he managed to make his way to the store to buy Stephanie a new Jetson’s lunchbox.

At first I thought it was an odd choice, until Joey picks it up and starts making futuristic flying sounds. He then launches into impressions of several Jetsons characters. In other words the lunchbox exists purely as an excuse to set up Joey with goofy material. Danny also gets DJ a Barbie lunchbox but she reveals she’s too old for it. The girls are on their way out the door when Danny realizes he might actually want to document this occasion and runs to get his video camera. Danny finds it, it’s conveniently sitting several feet away on a coffee table.

The camera is about the size of an Xbox but it’s the 80s, and no one knows any better so he starts recording the girls with it. Joey and Jesse follow, singing songs because they’re perfectly comfortable with the freaks that they are. After 17 whole seconds of recording Danny decides he has enough footage and the girls leave for school. By this point all three men are singing, their concentration more on themselves than the girls. The audience applauds this ridiculousness… but their triumph is short lived because Steph decides she’s not going to school after all. Maybe they should have sung something else? Or, I don’t know, not been singing at all?!

The guys can’t work out why she wouldn’t want to go to school so they press her to give an answer. It turns out she’s scared because she won’t know anybody and she won’t have any friends. Danny assures her he’ll go down to the school with her and that everything will be okay. Jesse finds a way to switch the focus to him; telling a story about his first time with a college girl – he was only 14. What the fuck? We cut to the school, Steph still has cold feet and she’s not the only one.

Eventually she’s forced to go inside the classroom where she sees a familiar face. It’s Uncle Jesse and he takes it upon himself to hand out milk to everyone in the classroom, compliments of Stephanie. Shameless bribery… and it doesn’t work. So he approaches a girl who is playing on her own, freaking her out in the process. It is at this moment that the teacher decides she should probably inquire into what the fuck this guy’s deal is. She asks who he is, and Jesse lies, saying he’s Stephanie’s dad. The teacher doesn’t appear to give a shit about that, but she does need a hand killing a spider so she leaves the classroom with him for several minutes.

Stephanie is alone for about 1.2 seconds before another strange man strolls his way straight into the classroom. It’s Joey, but it’s good to know that zero fucks were given about school safety in the 80s. Joey decides it’s Duck, Duck, Goose time leading me to question whether or not there is an actual teacher or schedule involved here at all.

This isn’t open mic at the Comedy Store, Joey – you can’t just step up and start leading the students. Or maybe he can – because the kids do play the game of Duck, Duck, Goose before the teacher comes back and asks Joey who he is. She’s clearly an ask questions later sort of gal because this is the second weirdo she’s let have his way with her brand new students. Joey also pretends to be Stephanie’s father, right before Chef Boyardad strolls in and claims he’s the father, too. Everyone can’t be the father! It’s like an episode of The Maury Show from the Bizarro World.

The ADHD-addled writer immediately shifts to a shot of DJ climbing a fence to escape the school – conveniently the fence right in front of the kindergarten window. It turns out DJ was put in the smart class with all the geeks while her friend Kimmy is stuck with the regular kids. So she also wants to literally escape school. Danny explains that it isn’t the end of the world. Steph decides she’s had enough once and for all so Danny almost finds himself in a Mexican stand off with his children. DJ decides she wants to talk to Stephanie woman-to-woman and Danny agrees because he’ll do anything to get out of being a parent.

DJ tells Stephanie she can’t expect to make friends the first day and to give things time. Although there’s no Very Special Moment music, the lesson is to try new things. The bell rings and the girls go back to class and it closes on Stephanie singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider. They grow up so fast!

Rating: 2/5 – Cut. It. Out.

Watching this episode it dawns on me that I also started kindergarten in 1987. That’s the year this episode aired. I’m the same age as the actress who played Stephanie so I was exactly her age here, too. It’s weird to think that when this episode first aired I was still a five-year-old boy who was going through the exact same fears of starting kindergarten. It’s weirder to think all this time later I’m blogging about episodes of Full House. Holy shit, I fucked up big time.

I give this episode an extra point because it actually deals with some actual common themes regarding school. The execution of these themes isn’t very good, however. I really dislike that this family basically just refits the classroom environment to suite the needs of their scared family member. I am sure a lot of kids were scared and they didn’t have a loved one there personally tailoring the experience in their favor.

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