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STUDIO: Buena Vista Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 611 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: "Tim’s Tool Corral": Hosted by Tool Time Girl Debbe Dunning
"Year three of Tim Allen fixing stuff, grunting like a monkey and teaching valuable yet saccharin life lessons to his TV family that’ll surely make you throw up."
"You think you’re slick, Wilson. But I know that you want to pork me. And I know that you know I know you want to pork me. But what you didn’t know is that I wanted you to know that I know that you know that I know that you want to pork me…you know?"
Allen, Patricia Richardson, Earl Hindman, Richard Karn, Debbe Dunning and three child actors whose parents thought they were so important at the time that all of America wanted to know their middle names…
Everything you probably ever cared to know about Home Improvement can be found in my Season 1 review (here). This is the third season offering of the highly successful sitcom where Allen plays Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, a know-it-all cable show home fix-it guru who in actuality knows much less than he thinks but keeps you in stitches as he has to rediscover that fact every week. Patricia Richardson is his wife and mother to his three kids (Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Taran Noah Smith, Zachary Ty Brian), who get into twice as much trouble as any six kids. The late Earl Hindman is his sage neighbor, Wilson, who dispenses valuable advice from behind the picket fence that separates their backyards. Richard Karn is Tim’s long-suffering sidekick on the show and the butt of many of the jokes. Debbe Dunning, as Heidi, took over as the Tool Time cheesecake for Pamela Anderson, who found some obscure show called Baywatch. There’s (canned) laughs, misunderstandings, lessons to be taught, and power tools.
Before she became comfortable with her body, it was apparent that Patricia Richardson took her crash dieting a little too seriously…
Not much has changed in the year since I last visited Allen’s world of Hemi-powered lawnmowers, and gas-powered wooden sawhorses that’ll do 160 on the freeway. By Season 3, the show was well into its groove, riding at or near the top of the ratings. Audiences really clicked with the Taylors and their brood, Wilson and the gang. I would occasionally check out the show, but was never a huge fan, not because there was anything wrong with the show, however. On the contrary, Home Improvement is a perfect example of the modern family situation comedy…and that’s why I generally didn’t tune in. I just can no longer stomach family sitcoms. I bled through Family Ties, Growing Pains, Roseanne, Mr. Belvedere, Family Matters and countless others. I simply didn’t have any more to give. I’d seen every possible screw up by every kid character, every first kiss, every “don’t do drugs” episode, every parental dilemma, every transparently-plotted miscommunication, every laugh track and every one room set that I could take.
This was the first – and subsequently the last – time these little bastards ever mouthed off to Tim Allen…
Home Improvement is by no means any worse than any of those shows, in fact it’s better than many of them, very likeable and easy to watch – to a point. Give me the Allen / Karn interactions on Tool Time, give me the flirting and give-and-take between Allen and Richardson, and especially give me the “project of the week,” a staple of the show where Tim is working on some hair-brained venture or project. This season it was stuff like building a Christmas village and making the family wear costumes (A Frozen Moment), or fixing the amplifier at Jill’s high school reunion (Feud for Thought) or building a hockey puck shooter for one of his sons when he becomes a goalie (The Colonel), or creating a gas-powered electric screwdriver. I also can watch and enjoy when Tim screws up his relationship with Jill in some form or another, like when he enlarges a bad picture of her for a fundraising dinner and embarrasses her (Blow Up). It’s when you get to the hokey father-and-sons life lessons crap that my eyes glaze over. The same cheap looking set and canned laughs are back also. But in retrospect, perhaps I was a little too harsh last time around. Once I made peace that the good stuff outweighed the bad by far, I was able to enjoy this set a little more than Season 1.
It wasn’t surprising that George Romero’s costume designer wasn’t quite working out on the show…