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HTF REVIEW: Home Improvement - The Complete Seventh Season

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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer



  • 12,881 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted July 31 2007 - 12:57 AM


Home Improvement - The Complete Seventh Season
Directed by Peter Bonerz et al

Studio: Disney
Year: 1997-98
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 554 minutes
Rating: TV-PG
Audio: Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles: EHD
MSRP: $39.95

Release Date: August 7, 2007
Review Date: July 31, 2007


The Series

3.5/5

In its penultimate seventh season, Home Improvement continues along its same formulaic way alternating scenes of slapstick tomfoolery at work with more grounded scenes of domestic strife in the tradition of the great television sitcoms (The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show). Tim Taylor (Tim Allen) is still head honcho at his cable TV enterprise Tool Time assisted by his good-natured abused sidekick Al Boreland (Richard Karn). Wife Jill (Patricia Richardson) continues homemaking duties while working on her master’s degree in psychology and looking after their three sons: athletic Brad (Zachery Ty Ryan), liberal-minded Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), and free-spirited Mark (Taran Noah Smith). Half-seen neighbor Wilson (Earl Hindman) continues dispensing wisdom from across the fence.

The seventh season provided some season long mini-story arcs that didn’t amount to much but provided impetus to keep the show chugging along. This is the season when Mark went semi-Goth providing some momentary worries for his parents about his choice of black clothing and sullen friends. Jill begins her psychological intern program on her way to becoming a full-fledged psychologist. Wilson’s niece Willow visits and decides to move in to spend time with her somewhat hermit-like uncle.

The comedy ranges from witty banter to farce (almost always connected with wayward projects at Tool Time), and the series is always genial even when comic set-ups don’t work. I did notice a great reliance on some of the adult actors either reading lines off cue cards or relying on notes off camera to keep them on track (Patricia Richardson is particularly guilty of this). Whether production hassles resulting in script delays and rushed production schedules required the use of cue cards or whether after years of great success, the actors had simply gotten a bit lazy, who knows? Despite the lack of eye contact, the actors are so congenial that it doesn’t really matter.

Never a show to rely on guest stars or stunt casting, a few famous faces did turn up during season seven: Tom Poston, Rodney Dangerfield and Alex Rocco on the Thanksgiving episode, Dan Ackroyd as a minister, Eileen Heckart playing an elderly woman whom Randy bonds with while volunteering at a hospice, and Tom Wopat who makes a play for Jill at the gym and who comes back in a later episode in a surprising way,

Here’s a rundown of the 25 episodes:

1. Quest for Fire
2. Clash of the Taylors
3. Room at the Top
4. Pump You Up
5. A Night to Dismember
6. The Niece
7. Jill’s Passion
8. Losing My Religion
9. Thanksgiving
10. The Dating Game
11. Bright Christmas
12. The Old College Try
13. An Older Woman
14. Tim “The Landlord” Taylor
15. Say Goodnight, Gracie
16. What a Drag (the best episode of the season)
17. Taking Jill for Granite
18. Futile Attraction
19. Desperately Seeking Willow
20. The Write Stuff
21. The Son Also Mooches
22. Believe It or Not
23. Rebel Without Night Driving Privileges
24. Tool-Thousand-One: A Space Odyssey
25. From Top to Bottom


Video Quality

3.5/5

The show was videotaped, and these 1.33:1 video masters look as good and as clean as videotape allows them to look. Sharpness varies from episode to episode, but it’s almost always above average. Color is stable, and I noticed no color banding though there is occasional aliasing. Each episode has been divided into 4 chapters.

Audio Quality

4/5

The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is clean and artifact free, but the surrounds are virtually wasted, apart from audience response and even the clever CGI screen transitions between scenes don’t make full use of the inherent sound effects that could have been achieved through the rear channels.

Special Features

1.5/5

The package offers an 8-minute blooper reel of the usual tongue twisting or line blowing variety. Since many episodes end with bloopers from the episode playing behind the closing credits, many of the bloopers in this reel have already been seen.

As is usual with Disney DVDs, the first disc offers a collection of trailers from upcoming theatrical and DVD releases including Wild Hogs, Underdog, Meet the Robinsons, The Jungle Book, and High School Musical 2.


In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)

Home Improvement – The Complete Seventh Season offers no new twists to the formula of the wildly popular comedy series. During its eight year run, the show never ranked outside the top ten shows on television for the season. It attained its lowest-ever rank in this its seventh season – 10th. For its fans, the show offers reliable if predictable entertainment in a box set that looks as good or better than it ever looked during its network broadcasts.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 2 OFFLINE   Andrew Radke

Andrew Radke

    Screenwriter



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  • Join Date: May 07 2003
  • Real Name:Andrew Radke
  • LocationGuelph, Ontario - Canada

Posted July 31 2007 - 01:15 AM

Thanks for the review. I"m definitely getting this. I'm really glad they dropped the price for this, as well as the 6th season. The only other set I'm missing is season 5 which here in Canada costs on average about $55. It'd be nice if that got a price drop too. Anyway, I've always loved this show regardless of the drop in quality. Hopefully the 8th and final season won't be far behind.
My DVD / Blu-ray collection:
 

 






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