19 October 2000 | mcfly-31
a half-way good run
The first four seasons of this fam-com had some of the most sharply written battle of the sexes dialogue anywhere. The bi-play of Allen and Richardson was perfect, which makes you glad her character was re-cast at the last minute. It would be hard to imagine anyone else with better timing to play his wife. But unfortunately at about the beginning of the 94-95 season, much of the writing and producing staff changed and the show suffered. They managed to crank out a decent amount of good episodes the next couple of years, but after that, it plain and simple just didn't make me laugh anymore. Bland scripts, with none of the earlier punch that the show had, took up the last few years, that mercifully ended in May of 99. Hard to believe that Allen and Co. lasted almost a whole decade in our living rooms, but for me the loyal viewing ended about midway into the run. Before the writing went in the standard sitcom direction, the show offered some of the funniest stuff I'd scene. Allen's silly outlook on life, that included worshipping auto racers and football players, and living and dying with his tools and hot rods, was fodder for a lot of good episodes. The kids were good in the mix, too, with Thomas being the real star of the 3, a good young actor with terrific delivery. Bryan, though older, was a subpar performer, with dull line readings the entire run of the show. And Smith sort of forgotten in the backround as the youngest son, doing neither good or bad with his part. He was just kind of there, and turned into some kind of goth lover, wearing all black most of the time and dying his hair that same color. Karn rounded out one of the better comedy teams as Allen's goody-goody assistant on his home improvement cable tv show. The show itself introduced some unconventional teqniques, like the screen dropping cuts to the next scene, the use of bloopers in the final credits and the often heard but never seen neighbor, Hindman. As Wilson, he usually offered up some sort of poetic advice which Allen would inadvertently twist and contort that would net an easy laugh. There were also a pair of gorgeous "tool girls" that spiced up Allen's show, Pam Anderson and the stunning Debbe Dunning. In catching up on the some of the years I missed thru re-runs, it seemed they introduced more of the extended family later on. Richardson's parents and sisters and Allen's brother's, one of which became a regular (O' Leary). He actually ended up getting seperated from his wife at one point, and seemed to become a full time performer, but then had his role limited to guest shots. Young Thomas left the show in his own, one year before the final season. Citing that he wanted to concentrate on college, it was later revealed that he and Allen had a bad off-screen relationship. Thomas didn't even turn up for the finale. Tim's poker and tool shop buddies became more widely used on the show, though I could've done without the worthless, brain-dead moocher, Benny. Everything came to a close as Al was married off to a frumpy millionaire and the family relocated to give Jill a chance at her dream job. The final moment was a ridiculous shot of the family towing their house across water(!) so they wouldn't have to live without it. I have to say that the behind the scenes look back and curtain calls were better than the actual episode. Oh, well, some good years in there made it enjoyable for awhile.