I watched one episode of "Fuller House." All right, I watched an episode and a half of "Fuller House." Cut it out* with the third degree. I remember watching the original show when it aired, but it held no particular special place in my childhood memories. Rather quickly on its course from Friday Night ABC staple to perennial Nick-at-Nite favorite, the show struck me as the same sort of crass, commercial calculation that comes about when TV executives come to the conclusion that kids will watch just about anything.
But when Netflix released their new original movie "Pee-Wee's Big Holiday?" I watched the thing within 24 hours after release. The man who was once the boy who claimed he wanted to be P.W. when he grew up** would not let a whole day pass without seeing his latest exploits. It was terrific! It was funny! It was... almost exactly like the much more anarchic "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" from thirty years earlier.
Before you point out the hypocrisy of my Pee-Wee fandom coupled with my desire to never hear Dave Coulier speak again, I get it. The nostalgia marketplace is big enough to include people who seriously wondered what Fred Savage's little brother is up to these days, and the people who suddenly realized they had the capacity for human emotions only when they saw Han and Chewie on the Millennium Falcon once again. The Venn diagram between those two groups may have a larger overlap than I originally thought.
Between "The Gilmore Girls" and "The X-Files," we as a society may have developed the cure to the scourge of cancellation. There are even a few unrealized avenues for nineties nostalgia. Amazon can't shell out the duckets to get us a few more episodes of "Animaniacs?" I might be in the minority, but if Crackle were to foot the bill for 6 more episodes of "Murphy Brown***," I'm liable to take the day off of my day job to binge watch. DC Comics recently rejected a pitch for a series that would have depicted the ongoing adventures of the Caped Crusader as portrayed by Michael Keaton. I'm not sure why DC would be against a money printing machine, aside from their desire to hurt me personally, but there it is.
What's behind the appeal for nostalgic things? If the nineties last forever, do we never age? It seems like a dumb reason, but if there is another motivation, I don't know what it is. I want to resist the glut of 90s nostalgia. I want the world to be weird and wondrous, but then again I also voted for Hillary Clinton, so I may be a big old pile of contradictions. If you have a problem with that, feel free to cancel me. I'll only come back more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
Maybe the solution is to embrace that weird and wondrous in our own work. Big companies will be happy to make the same old thing we've already seen, and we'll be happy to pay for it to keep the sense of time passing at bay. But I can resist the temptation to make my stuff like what came before. That is, of course, unless the current rights holders of Short Circuit are reading this. I have a pitch for a third movie. You know where to find me. #johnnyfiveisstillalive
*My wife suggested I put periods after those last three words, a la Coulier, but I just won't do it. #teamalanis #yououghtaknow
**My pre-pubescent ambition made for an awkward conversation after Paul Reubens infamous arrest for indecent exposure in 1991.
Pee-Wee was arrested.
What did he do?
A silence transpires, long enough to fill the Alamo basement.
...he stole things.
But what did he steal?
He...he stole things.
***Remember what that lady did to Dan Quayle back in the day? No? Well, kids, ask your parents. Then imagine what she could do with the current crop of self-righteous used car salesmen (all right, and women... Contradictions!) that we have running for President today.