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Old 09-25-2016, 02:16 AM   #1
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Default Why has time forsaken Home Improvement?

http://www.avclub.com/article/why-ha...ovement-242973

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The nostalgia beast is a ravenous one, and with each passing day, it chews our pop-culture memories into an increasingly formless web-slurry. With the 1990s digesting within its belly at an incredible rate—accelerated by the Snapchat-length attention spans of former ’90s kids, and intensified by the boundless need for “remember when?” content—it seems we’ve managed to memorialize and/or reboot everything from that decade, worthwhile and not, in record time. Yet even within our incredibly lowered standards of sentimentality—where our merely remembering something is the same as it being memorable—the 25th anniversary of Home Improvement’s premiere passed this week without much beyond the slapdash fanfare of a “Where Are They Now?” slideshow.

The internet celebrates in its own, SEO-friendly way, of course, and it’s certainly not obligated to commemorate a quarter-century since Tim Allen first grunted about power tools by reflecting on what it all meant. But Home Improvement’s absence from that cultural conversation is combined with the fact that the show is currently airing solely on The Hallmark Channel, where it’s lumped with The Golden Girls and The Brady Bunch in a mid-afternoon block, when only those laid up by hilarious workplace accidents of their own are likely to see it. And it’s a strange afterlife for a show that vied with—and even bested—Friends, Seinfeld, Roseanne, and other widely syndicated, thoroughly picked-over ’90s icons in the ratings. Why has Home Improvement been so largely forgotten?

Let’s just state the obvious answer: Home Improvement is not a great show. Compared to its contemporaries, the series—launched as part of ABC’s move toward even more family-friendly sitcoms in the wake of its “TGIF” success—lacked the ambition and innovation that made Seinfeld, Roseanne, or even Friends seem so groundbreaking. Instead, Home Improvement was almost defiantly formulaic, the only ground it broke being whatever Allen happened to fall on.

Based on Allen’s stand-up—where he’d distilled comedy down to its purest essence as a series of caveman grunts—the show was equally simplistic in its storytelling. Allen’s Tim Taylor was like a slightly seedier, more macho Clark Griswold, a tool salesman and TV host with jocular charm, confidence that exceeded his actual abilities, and a tendency to get hurt a lot. Each episode followed a predictable arc: Tim would spar with his wife Jill (Patricia Richardson) over something stupid he did, often as a symptom of his near-fatal manliness. Their three sons—Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan), Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), and Mark (Taran Noah Smith)—would engage in some youthful shenanigan requiring a heart-to-heart lecture by episode’s end. Somewhere in there, Tim would strap a large engine to something, much to the consternation of his assistant Al (Richard Karn); grunting and injuries ensued. Finally, Tim would reach temporary enlightenment after consulting with the shadowy oracle next door, Wilson (Earl Hindman); slightly softer grunting and learning ensued. While the specific circumstances of Tim’s screw-ups varied slightly over eight seasons, this essential rubric did not.

Still, inventiveness and quality aren’t always factors in nostalgia; as seen in Fuller House, often the opposite is true. And they clearly didn’t factor into the success of Home Improvement’s original, 1991-99 run either, when the show spent the decade in the Nielsen Top 10, even taking the honor of most-watched sitcom—over Seinfeld and Roseanne—in its second and third seasons. While never a critical darling, it nevertheless nabbed quite a few Emmy nominations, including two for Outstanding Comedy Series and four for Richardson. Its popularity was such that then-First Lady Hillary Clinton even seriously considered a guest-starring role, believing it could help her better assimilate among humans. Even at its end, Home Improvement remained such a juggernaut that Allen and Richardson were offered $50 million and $25 million, respectively, to keep it going for a ninth season, which they politely declined.
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Old 09-25-2016, 10:57 PM   #2
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It sounds silly, but I think there was a considerable amount of young people tuning in at the time because Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a teen icon. The kid was on the cover of every issue of every Bop and Teen Beat magazine for years and even fronted a handful of movies. It's not the only reason, but I think that his fanbase growing up and moving on had an effect on the ratings in syndication.
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Old 09-26-2016, 10:44 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Sophia's Wrinkles
It sounds silly, but I think there was a considerable amount of young people tuning in at the time because Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a teen icon....It's not the only reason, but I think that his fanbase growing up and moving on had an effect on the ratings in syndication.
There could be something to this that can be generalized: I don't care about Jonathan Taylor Thomas, but I can watch it because of the Tool Time segments and, to a certain extent, the silly things that Wilson was up to. It could be that there were people who liked Tool Time, people who liked the kids/family, people who liked the Allen-Richardson relationship, but none of those aspects really dominates the show enough to pull a steady syndication audience.
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Old 09-26-2016, 11:40 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Sophia's Wrinkles
It sounds silly, but I think there was a considerable amount of young people tuning in at the time because Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a teen icon. The kid was on the cover of every issue of every Bop and Teen Beat magazine for years and even fronted a handful of movies. It's not the only reason, but I think that his fanbase growing up and moving on had an effect on the ratings in syndication.
This also crossed my mind while watching a rerun the other day. JTT was huge and it had to have been the reason the show lasted as long as it did. When he left, the show fell flat and was cancelled soon.
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Old 09-26-2016, 03:40 PM   #5
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Tim Allen and JTT were huge Disney Darlings at the time. The Santa Clause. The Lion King. Toy Story. I'll Be Home For Christmas. The rest of the cast was great, but I don't think the show would have survived without their star power.

I definitely think this was a more of a character(s) driven show than a plot driven show. I use to watch every week and for the life of me, I have a hard time remembering specific storyline.
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Old 09-26-2016, 05:31 PM   #6
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I like Tim in his new show. His character is not bumbling and is smart.
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Old 09-28-2016, 01:08 AM   #7
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Tim Allen and JTT were huge Disney Darlings at the time. The Santa Clause. The Lion King. Toy Story. I'll Be Home For Christmas. The rest of the cast was great, but I don't think the show would have survived without their star power.

I definitely think this was a more of a character(s) driven show than a plot driven show. I use to watch every week and for the life of me, I have a hard time remembering specific storyline.
Home Improvement in retrospect, seems to be one of those shows where if you've seen one episode, you've pretty much seen it all. It wasn't necessarily a overall bad show (it didn't have the admittedly inherent cheesiness or mawkishness of something like Full House to really make it stand out) per se or an unentertaining show. It was just, very middle of the road in that it wasn't too innovative (but not offensively stupid), edgy/boundary pushing or groundbreaking. It was a show that arguably hinged mostly on Tim Allen's charisma than anything.

I'm guessing that one reason why it was so popular was that Tim Allen played a lovable dolt/everyman that was easy to relate to. His simple view of masculinity which while coming off as old-fashioned (at least, by the '90s) was none the less, still a little charming. One commenter said that Allen had pretty amazing rapport with the kids. He's very good at that type of dumb but warmly, well-meaning father figure. In essence, Allen or really, Tim Taylor just seems like the kind of guy you'd like as a dad.

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Old 09-28-2016, 01:30 AM   #8
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There could be something to this that can be generalized: I don't care about Jonathan Taylor Thomas, but I can watch it because of the Tool Time segments and, to a certain extent, the silly things that Wilson was up to. It could be that there were people who liked Tool Time, people who liked the kids/family, people who liked the Allen-Richardson relationship, but none of those aspects really dominates the show enough to pull a steady syndication audience.
Home Improvement is basically a big collection of annoying sitcom cliches to be brutally honest.

- Insufferable catchphrases (Tim's grunt, "More power!", "I don't think so Tim") that get repeated endlessly.

- One of the worst examples of an incompetent manchild husband, and the long-suffering wife who he has to apologize to at the end of every episode.

- Recurring character who's a vehicle for one tired joke (Wilson's face being covered up.)

- Overbearing laugh track.

- Forgettable child characters who rarely get any good lines.

- Lasting way, way, way too long.

I think a bit of what also works against Home Improvement is it is just about the MOST formulaic show I can recall. You really only ever needed to watch one episode to effectively watch the whole series:

1) Tim messes something up on his show (and abuses Al)
2) Tim pontificates about something at home; Jill offers rebuttal and/or threatens to with hold sex.
3) A problem arises with a family member or friend, and Tim doesn't know how to handle it.
4) Tim seeks advice from Wilson, who gives it in the form of an ancient wisdom.
5) Tim attempts to restate said advice to humorous effect; ultimately he solves the problem.
6) Tim attempts to make something more powerful, with hilarious results.

End of episode.

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Old 09-28-2016, 01:45 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Sophia's Wrinkles
It sounds silly, but I think there was a considerable amount of young people tuning in at the time because Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a teen icon. The kid was on the cover of every issue of every Bop and Teen Beat magazine for years and even fronted a handful of movies. It's not the only reason, but I think that his fanbase growing up and moving on had an effect on the ratings in syndication.
Home Improvement for better or worse, was a show centered around masculinity and men, Patricia Richardson aside. A lot of the most fondly remembered sitcoms arguably had significant tween girl fan bases. And while girls thought that JTT was cute, not much about the show didn't have much for young girls to relate to or truly love.

It also focused on the adults in a family whereas most nostalgia generally either focuses on pop culture that people identified with as kids (e.g. Full House, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, even The Simpsons were widely watched by kids) or shows that reflect their present (e.g. Friends, Seinfeld). Home Improvement was really a show targeted toward parents in their 30s and 40s and that audience today are likely more nostalgic for '80s pop culture than '90s pop culture. Home Improvement was also more rooted in the '60s and '70s than the '90s. There were more jokes referencing Iron Butterfly, the Beatles and Lulu than any 90's musician. Until Mark became a goth.
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:37 PM   #10
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To me, this is one of the best shows that has ever been on TV. Yeah it may have lost some of its momentum when a certain child actor disappeared, but in my opinion, that only gave the other two child actors the ability to stand out more.

God bless you and them always!!!

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Old 03-16-2017, 05:43 PM   #11
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For awhile, time did forsake HI. It was very popular in the early 2000s--it was on WGN, TBS, TV Land, and local syndication. A few years ago it suffered a decline, and essentially disappeared for awhile. Hallmark gave it a go a couple of years ago, and it did not last long. This recent go on Hallmark must be successful--they do not stick with lack of success for more than a few weeks. There is probably a whole new generation of people discovering the show.
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Old 06-06-2017, 01:14 AM   #12
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http://www.avclub.com/article/why-ha...ovement-242973

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There’s a similarly stale timelessness to Home Improvement’s jokes about bumbling dads, cooking-impaired moms, and wisecracking kids that’s been a sitcom staple since the medium’s invention; as more than one Amazon review notes, it’s wholesome and “harmless” in a way not seen in today’s broadcast smut-peddlers. It’s also not as though its cheerfully casual misogyny is particularly rooted in a less progressive past. Bumbling guy’s-guys engaging in battle-of-the-sexes repartee with their much smarter, albeit nagging wives has remained a tried-and-true formula right up through Kevin Can Wait—and in fact, through Allen’s current ABC sitcom, Last Man Standing.

“It isn’t rocket science, what I’m doing,” Allen said just before Last Man Standing’s premiere in 2012, openly acknowledging that his latest role—a sporting goods salesman whose masculinity puts him at odds with the world, a concept he developed with Home Improvement producer/director John Pasquin—barely qualifies as an idea. “Instead of tools, it’s sporting goods and guns and ATVs and boats, and I come home to four women,” Allen shrugged, before saying the show was exactly what he’d been looking for after a decade of being disappointed at not being offered another Home Improvement. “I don’t know why we would not do a version of the same show, rather than put me in a legal drama,” Allen said, a man who is nothing if not admirably upfront about his limitations.

And perhaps, just as it is for Allen, the fact that Last Man Standing exists means there’s no real point in anyone longing for Home Improvement at all, so thoroughly does it fill that niche. The show has even provided a de facto reunion in the form of an episode where Richardson guested as Allen’s neighbor. And that followed various on-and-off-screen encounters between Allen and his estranged TV son Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who’s appeared in several Last Man Standing episodes and even directed a few. Their reconciliation ended a long-running feud that erupted over Thomas’ decision to leave Home Improvement in its eighth season and focus on attending college, even declining to appear in its series finale.
The ironic thing is that if you watch Home Improvement and Last Man Standing back to back, you'll more than likely will see a stark contrast. Depending on whom you ask, LMS was pretty mean-spirited and overly political. Tim Allen's character, Mike Baxter is pretty much a right-wing strawman who bashes liberals. On HI on the other hand, Tim Taylor is a traditional father who may butt heads when it comes to gender roles, but it's never heated and he learns a lesson at the end.
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Old 08-31-2017, 07:41 PM   #13
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http://screenrant.com/tv-shows-kids-...ly-bad-sucked/

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In the ’90s, Tim Allen was all the rage. Whether you knew him as Buzz Lightyear, Scott Calvin/Santa Claus, or Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, the odds are that you came across the comedian’s work in some form or another. In particular, Allen starred as The Tool Man for eight seasons on Home Improvement, which satirized working class American life and gave rise to ’90s teen heartthrob Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

Beneath all the laugh track laced jokes and Tim’s clumsy accidents, all there really was to the show was caveman behavior glorified and justified for 204 episodes. Taylor’s signature line wasn’t even a line, but rather a cro-magnon style grunt of confusion, dismay, anger, sadness…and any other complex emotion cavemen lacked the capability to deal with.

Besides standout comedic sidekicks in Richard Karn’s Al and Earl Hindman’s never-fully-seen neighbor Wilson, you could say that it was the show, and not the home, that needed improving.
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Old 12-26-2017, 02:36 AM   #14
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https://screenrant.com/90s-sitcoms-aged-terribly/

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Here’s another ’90s sitcom that heavily played into the hand of what men do and what women do, and never the two shall meet. Tim Allen’s character is a little more active in his role as father and husband, but the nagging angle definitely factors in to Home Improvement.

Its biggest cringe-worthy storyline, however, is the inclusion of the “Tool Time” girl – who is nothing more than a hot prop for the two “Tool Time” guys to alternatively ogle and be exhausted by. She dresses overly provocatively for her role – if she’s dealing with home improvement, one would think steel-toed boots and tying your hair up would be mandatory. Not only that, but the role is filled by a myriad of different women, as if a having consistent identity isn’t important. At one point she was even portrayed by Pamela Anderson.
https://screenrant.com/beloved-tv-shows-aged-badly/

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7. HOME IMPROVEMENT

Home Improvement launched the career of Tim Allen, an actor that we have grown to know and love. The show consists of Allen playing Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor and his life with his family. The family sitcom ran for eight seasons, from 1991 to 1999.

The main reason why this show didn’t age well is simple. The character of Tim Taylor doesn’t understand women and this becomes the main source of the show’s jokes. It became common place for Tim to complain about his wife to his co-host and neighbor, both of whom were other men.

The only relevant women characters were his wife and his assistant, both stereotypical roles for women.The constant jokes about male culture and how men should live seem completely inappropriate in today’s climate.

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Old 12-26-2017, 11:24 AM   #15
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There were only two different actresses that played the Tool Time girl.
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