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.
In its eighth and final season, the ground was well worn, the jokes were expected (but enjoyed) and the character walked in grooves like those on a record as the 28 episodes that closed out the series unfolded. As with a few shows that reach the kind of sit-com milestone, toward the end the writers and actors began to emotionally sense the end and it came through on screen.
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. Jonathan Taylor Thomas’ exit from the show was quick into the season and looking back, he really wasn’t missed.
The season was rich with some great episodes, like the Halloween prank episode (Bewitched), ‘Knee Deep with guest stars Penn & Teller and the three part series send off.
This DVD set comes with each episode from season eight over four discs.
3. All in the Family
4. Taylor Got Game
5. Al’s Fair Lady
8: Tim’s First Car
9: Mr. Likeable
10: Thanks, But No Thanks
11: Home for the Holidays
12: Plays for Tots
13: Chop Shot ‘til You Drop
14: Home Alone
15: Knee Deep
16: Mark’s Big Break
17: Young at Heart
18: Love’s Labor Lost – Part One
19: Love’s Labor Lost – Part Two
21: A Hardware Habit to Break
22: Loose Lips and Freudian Slips
24: Dead Weight
25: The Long and Winding Road – Part One
26: The Long and Winding Road – Part Two
27: The Long and Winding Road – Part Three
28: Home Improvement: Backstage Pass - The cast with tongues firmly planted in their cheeks discuss their time on the show inter-cut with still funny bloopers. The final moments are quite touching.
The Video - out of
The final season of Home Improvement is represented in its original broadcast ration 1:33.1. These episodes look pretty good. The image is nice and sharp for an older show and the colors are beautiful balanced – this was always a pretty colorful show. The image is clean almost consistently and despite being almost exclusively filmed inside a studio, the show isn’t unnaturally bright. Darker colors show off the crispness nicely and you will find this season set a fitting close for the show.
The Sound - out of
This DVD set contains a 2.0 Dolby Digital track. A little hollow at times, the sound is good.. As with previous season sets, the sound effects (tools revving, crashes and smashes occurring on and off-screen) are pretty lively. The surrounds mostly are used for the aforementioned sound effects as well as the audience laughter. All in all it is a perfectly appropriate audio presentation for this show.
The Extra’s - out of
Blooper Reel - (6:08)
Tim Allen Presents: The Home Improvement User’s Guide - (42:37) – Three years after the finale aired, Tim Allen and Richard Karn host a live reunion special (which contains new stand-up material from comedian Tim Allen).
Home Improvement is a wonderful family show. This final season was funny, emotional and creative. The final few seasons cooled off from the series peak, but came back at the top end of the final seasons to end strong.. It did not shy away from some of the more dramatic plotlines, but never loses the focus on funny. A constantly funny, wonderfully lighthearted family comedy with the talents of Tim Allen and the often inept ‘Tim the tool-man Taylor’ driving the quality.
Overall Score - out of