Saturday, July 13, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Home Improvement - Season 2

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Lots to laugh at in every episode
Cons: Often formulaic with Tim being dumb
The Bottom Line
Formula?  Oh yes
But episodes still funny
And well worth watching

"A Safe Work Place is a Happy Work Place, Right Al?"  "I Wouldn't Know, Tim."

Most shows go through season 1 growing pains.  During this time, they learn what works and what doesn’t, and hopefully start season 2 off stronger.  That was certainly the case with Season 2 of Home Improvement.  While season 1 was enjoyable, this season was better.

For the most part, the show remained intact from season one.  It focuses on Tim Taylor (Time Allen).  He hosts a local home improvement/tool show called Tool Time with his assistant Al Borland (Richard Karn).  At home, he’s got his loving wife Jill (Patricia Richardson) and three boys, Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan), Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), and Mark (Taran Noah Smith).  A typical episode finds Tim making a mess of something and realizing his mistake after getting advice from his neighbor Wilson (Earl Hindman).

Right away, there are a couple of changes.  For one thing, after guest starring in every episode last season, Al becomes a full on cast member this time around.  That also means he gets a bigger part with some episodes revolving around Tool Time, like when they get a new producer in Maureen Binford.  Or there’s the time Tim bunks with Al to ride out the outbreak of chicken pox at home.

Another change is that Tim isn’t also being an idiot.  Yes, there are times he royally messes up, like when he stands Jill up for a romantic dinner or gets them lost on the way to a wedding.  But occasionally the conflicts between Tim and Jill come from genuine misunderstandings, and there are faults on both sides.

While Mark is still a bit too young to take on serious lead duties, Brad gets a season long arc with his first love, Jennifer.  They go from being almost an item to dating to him killing her goldfish and a brief break up involving homework.  And he and Randy even take on a few of the A stories, like the time they start raising money for a charity, and skimming a little off the top.

And, of course, there are Tim’s mishaps.  He overdoes it for Christmas again and destroys plenty of stuff trying to get rid of an annoying bird.  Then there’s the house renovation gone wrong and the second of Bob Villa’s three appearances on the show.  This one involves a lawn mower race.

As you can tell, there is plenty going on this season, and the laughs are almost non-stop.  Yes, you can plot most episodes before you begin, but they are still fun and entertaining with lots of laughter along the way.

The cast does a great job bringing the jokes to life.  I especially love it when they let the characters laugh at some of the lines when they are teasing each other because it seems more real.  Of the kids, it is obvious why Jonathan Taylor Thomas became the break out star since he nails all of his lines.  The other two boys are good, but he is great.  And while Pamela Anderson is still the Tool Time girl, watch for an early non-Heidi appearance by Debbe Dunning.

The season consisted of 25 laugh filled episodes, and they are preserved on 3 discs in their original full frame and stereo format.  The last disc contains some compilations of the best scenes and lines from the season, and a blooper reel that contains more than the bloopers from the ends of the episodes.

Home Improvement was the last hold out in the traditional family sitcom genre, and there is something still endearing about it.  It makes you laugh and care for the characters.  Anyone will still find plenty to laugh at in season 2.

Season 2 Episodes:
1. Read My Hips
2. Rites & Wrongs of Passage
3. Overactive Glance
4. Groin Pains
5. Heavy Meddle
6. The Haunting of Taylor House
7. Rommie for Improvement
8. May the Best Man Win
9. Where There's a Will, There's a Way
10. Let's Did Lunch
11. Abandoned Family
12. I'm Scheming of a White Christmas
13. Bellbottom Blues
14. Howards End
15. Love is a Many Splintered Thing
16. Dances with Tools
17. You're Driving Me Crazy, You're Driving Me Nuts
18. Bye, Bye Birdie
19. Karate or Not, Here I Come
20. Shooting Three to Make Tutu
21. Much Ado About Nana
22. Ex Marks the Spot
23. To Build or not to Build
24. Birth of a Hot Rod
25. The Great Race

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