Friday, June 28, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Home Improvement - Season 1

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Loving family and lots of laughs
Cons: Formulaic; Tim always at fault
The Bottom Line
A family sitcom
Physical humor and barbs
Formulaic fun




"Promise You Won't Rewire or Blow Up Anything?"  "Why Are You So Mean to Me?"

I didn’t spend much time watching TV until after I graduated from college, and by that point Home Improvement had pretty much finished its run.  However, I caught some episodes and liked what I saw.  So I headed back to season 1 to start from the beginning.

I think what surprised me most was just how much the early part of this season focused on theTaylorfamily.  There’s husband Tim (Tim Allen) the accident prone man’s man and his wife Jill (Patricia Richardson) his long suffering wife.  They have three kids, Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan), Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), and Mark (Taran Noah Smith).  Tim is the host of his own home improvement show, Tool Time, where his co-host is Al Borland (Richard Karn, just a guest star here).  There’s also Lisa (Pamela Anderson), the announcer for the show.

The typical episode involves Tim going about doing things in the way he wants to, often ignoring Jill’s advice, and making a mess.  It can be something like adding too much to the remodel of their bathroom or sharing an embarrassing secret of Jill’s on Tool Time.  He doesn’t quite get what he’s done wrong until neighbor Wilson (Earl Hindman) sets him straight with some ancient philosophy or wisdom, which Tim mangles on his way to apologizing.

Of course, that pattern stayed true for most of the series.  This season specifically, Tim is distracted by a football game while on a date with Jill, has to teach the boys table manners or go to the opera, tries to get out of going to a fundraiser, and gets a table glued to his head.

Yes, this show involves plenty of slapstick humor as the accident prone/”more power” obsessed Tim goes too far.  Those moments are funny, and several of them are classics.  Many of the jokes involve verbal sparring, but the actors always keep the ton light and loving instead of harsh.

The acting is great from most of the cast.  I’d say the weak link is Mark since he’s the youngest, but he’s cute enough to make up for it and it’s a minor issue.

My big complaints about the show are present here.  I already noted the formula.  Also, it would be nice if Tim weren’t always so clueless when it comes to his wife and how what he does bothers her.  Only one episode in this season is Jill remotely responsible for the misunderstanding between them.  On the other hand, she is always ready to forgive, and I love the fact that they have a good marriage.

The season includes 24 episodes on three discs in their native full frame and stereo sound.  Extras include three interesting commentaries by the creators and some pointless theme collections of funny moments from the episodes you’ve just seen.

As formulaic as the show could be, it was a hit because it was always funny.  I laughed my way through the first season of Home Improvement and bet you will, too.

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