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HTF Review: Home Improvement Season Six

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#1 of 3 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted May 13 2007 - 12:07 PM


Studio: Touchstone Television
Year: 1996-7
Rated: NR
Film Length: 561 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English DD 2.0
Subtitles: Optional English subtitles

US Release Date: May 15, 2007

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Based on the stand-up comedy of every man’s man Tim Allen, 'Home Improvement' became one of the most popular and beloved family situational comedies of modern times.

The basic premise of the show centers around Allen’s character ‘Tim, the tool-man Taylor’, host of a moderately successful cable TV show ‘Tool Time’, husband, neighbor and father of three young boys. His wife, Jill (Patricia Richardson) and their children Brad, Randy and Mark (Zachary Ty Bryan, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Toran Noah Smith) provide good comedy from reaction and interaction, helping to balance the accident prone Tim and rounding out the strong Taylor family. There are regulars on the show, including most notably Wilson (the late Earl Hindman), the wisdom-filled neighbor whose face is never quite seen, his show co-host Al Borldan (Richard Karns), Heidi (Debbe Dunning), the beautiful show helper and a handful of friends that help Allen and his comedy explore the modern state of man and the male ego.

'Home Improvement' in its heyday was a rare blend of family comedy and good old fashioned slapstick humor. On the family friendly side, the show succeeded where many failed, managing to avoid becoming a comedic dull blade when it comes to subjects covered and jokes delivered. Surviving the failing that has swallowed whole innocuous shows like ‘According to Jim’, Home Improvement is also a show that never misunderstood its comedy, its stories and most importantly, the need to keep things funny. On the slapstick side, the clumsy ‘accident magnet’ Tool Time host keeps the humor inventive, concocting supped-up tools and destroying almost anything he features on his show, but it never over-indulges.

By its sixth season, the well was starting to see signs of drying up, perhaps because the three Taylor boys were growing up, voices becoming deeper and the inevitable storylines of girlfriends and romance were explored. But even as the family on screen matured, the storylines managed to present enough fresh ideas and remain faithful enough to the simple and successful premise that it can still be considered as funny and entertaining as ever.

Tim Allen, never the most accomplished sit-com actor, is able to turn his less than polished on screen abilities into an endearing, learning and growing man of the modern age. His comedy, grounded in his broad stroke observations of the male condition, (along with his notorious male grunting) are pleasantly tempered by the comedy of his clumsy and caring revelations. The show, at its finest, celebrates the elements and environments attached to many male stereotypes, enjoying them, poking fun at them, but placing them in context and highlighting their flaws as well as their place in the America of the day. To me, this is where the show maintains an enduring place in the sit-com landscape and keeps it as enjoyable today as when it first aired.

This DVD set comes with each episode from season six over three discs.

The Episodes
Disc One:
1. At Sea
2. Future Shocked
3. Workshop 'Til You Drop
4. Burnin' Love
5. Al's Video
6. Whose Car Is It Anyway?
7. I Was A Teenage Taylor
8. Jill And Her Sisters

Disc Two:
9. The Tool Man Delivers
10. The Wood, The Bad And The Hungry
11. Workin' Man Blues.
12. No Place Like Home
13. The Flirting Game
14. The Karate Kid Returns
15. Totally Tool Time
16. A Funny Valentine
17. Wilson's World

Disc Three:
18. Something Old, Someone Blue
19. Communication Breakdown
20. My Son, The Driver
21. Insult To Injury
22. Family Un-Ties
23. The Feminine Mistake
24. Taps
25. The Kiss And The Kiss-Off

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The sixth season of Home Improvement is represented in its original broadcast ratio 1:33.1. While there is some uneven presentation of the material, with a few episodes looking unnaturally sharp and a few a little soft, for the most part, these episodes look pretty good.
It can be hard sometimes going back to older shows that were filmed in the full frame format, but when the show is good enough, as Home Improvement is, it is easy to get pulled into the material itself and forget just for a moment, that the widescreen TV isn’t being filled up.

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This DVD set contains a 2.0 Dolby Digital track. It actually sounds pretty good. The sound effects (tools whizzing, engines revving, crashes and smashes occurring on and off-screen) are pretty lively. The surrounds are mostly used for the aforementioned sound effects as well as audience laughter. All in all it is a perfectly appropriate audio presentation for this show.

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Unfortunately, this set only comes with a single special feature, a Blooper reel that runs a little over six minutes. As far as I could tell, most of the bloopers were used during the shows end credit sequences through the season, but all pulled together here it makes for a very funny few minutes.
Disc One contains 'sneak peak' previews for some upcoming DVD's, including 'Scrubs' Season 5, 'Jungle Book 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition', 'Kyle XY' Season One, 'Bridge To Terabithia' and 'Desperate Housewives' on TV.

Final Thoughts
Home Improvement is a wonderful family show. Season Six, while finding itself playing with more and more dramatic story elements, remains at its core, a very funny, lighthearted family comedy with the comedic threads of Tim Allen and the often inept ‘Tim the tool-man Taylor’ driving the quality.

Highlights from this season include the animated sequences from the Thanksgiving episode ‘The Wood, The Bad and the Hungry’ and ‘The Kiss & The Kiss Off’, guest starring a great looking Pamela Anderson.

This season also had a few notable guest stars including Drew Carrey, Michael and Mario Andretti and the Beach Boys.

Fans of the show will delight in being able to add another season of this fine family comedy to their collections. For all others, there is enough genuinely fun, slapstick, male-ego bashing to keep you entertained for a few hours.

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Neil Middlemiss
Kernersville, NC
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
My DVD Collection

#2 of 3 ChrisCook


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Posted May 13 2007 - 12:37 PM

It should be pointed out that the episode "The Feminine Mistake" was partly shot in 3-D. What's on this DVD is not the original network broadcast version as the "3-D effects" have been removed. I still have my 3-D glasses that I got from Wendy's before this aired and was disappointed to hear that Disney didn't bother to include the correct version of this episode.

#3 of 3 Andrew Radke

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Posted May 13 2007 - 10:02 PM

I'm looking forward to owning this. I received seasons 1-4 for Christmas this past year. Mind you I still need to pick up season 5 as well. lol I've always loved this show. Even now my 9 year old niece and I watch it every morning before I take her to school. At the rate these are coming out, with S7 in August, I wouldn't doubt the 8th and final season will see the light of day by Christmas.
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