"Home Improvement" eventually began to get a bit repetitive after the core idea was worn out, but most of the show's run utilized the idea of a guy too obsessed with horsepower and power tools for his own good quite effectively. For those who never saw the series, it starred former stand-up comic Tim Allen as Tim Taylor, a husband and father who continually seeks out tools and other electronic equipment of grander size and power. Allen's character was defined by both his trademark grunt and the fact that the machinery he was using often got the better of him. It all was largely based on the comedian's real-life stand-up material.
The character epitomized the kind of sitcom dad that I hate - one who acts all macho, screws up terribly and ends up learning a lesson from wife and family, to be repeated again next week. However, Allen managed to make the character endearing and - at least for a good stretch of time - pretty entertaining.
Allen was supported by Patricia Richardson as wife Jill. The character played off Allen's pretty well, as the two could not be more opposite. Richardson definitely shined in some episodes where she got more of the focus, but there were also times where her disapproval made her seem like something of a party pooper. There were also the show's three sons, played by: Taran Noah Smith (Mark Taylor), Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Randy Taylor), Zachery Ty Bryan (Brad Taylor). While none of the three were standouts, they portrayed a trio of older, middle and younger brothers well. Also good throughout show were Richard Kind as Al, Tim's co-host on his "Tool Time" TV series, and Earl Hindman as the little-seen but often heard neighbor Wilson.
The sixth season of the series saw the kids getting older, and the series began to write a few more episodes geared towards the three sons growing older, starting with the first episode, where Tim finds himself having to give Brad "the talk". Randy and Brad also have relationship issues with girlfriends and "My Son, the Driver" sees Brad getting into serious car trouble on the first night of having a driver's license. The season also explores Jill and Tim's relationship further ("Future Shock" and "Workshop 'Till You Drop") and offers the usual blunders from Allen's character.
The seventh season (the show's 8th season would be its last) saw the producers change things up a bit to try and keep the forumula going. This mainly involves focusing more on the changes for the three kids, as well as a few decisions that the parents have to make as they get older. As for the kids, Randy surprises Tim by going against Binford Tools when the newly pro-environment Randy reveals that the company is a major polluter. This was also the memorable season when the creators made the choice to turn youngest son Mark into a goth, which spooked Jill and Tim and was an unexpected change for the series and the character. Tim and Jill continue to work on their relationship, and Tim tries to decide whether or not he'll quit his job.
Some of the highlights from this season include: "Thanksgiving" (Tim accidentally blacks out the entire stadium when he wanders into the control room at the Superdome), "The Dating Game" (Al tries to meet women), "Blight Christmas" (Tim tops himself in the Christmas display department), "Quest For Fire" (Tim heads into dangerous new territory when he tries to take a BBQ to a new level), "What a Drag" (Tim and Jill try to figure out whose pot it is they find), "Tool-Thousand-One: A Space Odyssey" (Tim has a chance to head into space) and "From Top to Bottom" (Jill makes an embarassing comment about Tim on a talk show while he watches from the hardware store.)
The DVD set includes all of the episodes from season 7.
7th Season 1997
152. 7- 1 23 Sep 97 Quest for Fire
153. 7- 2 30 Sep 97 Clash of the Taylors
154. 7- 3 7 Oct 97 Room at the Top
155. 7- 4 14 Oct 97 Pump You Up
156. 7- 5 28 Oct 97 A Night to Dismember
157. 7- 6 4 Nov 97 The Niece
158. 7- 7 11 Nov 97 Jill's Passion
159. 7- 8 18 Nov 97 Losing My Religion
160. 7- 9 25 Nov 97 Thanksgiving
161. 7-10 9 Dec 97 The Dating Game
162. 7-11 16 Dec 97 Bright Christmas
163. 7-12 6 Jan 98 The Old College Try
164. 7-13 20 Jan 98 An Older Woman
165. 7-14 3 Feb 98 Tim 'The Landlord' Taylor
166. 7-15 10 Feb 98 Say Goodnight, Gracie
167. 7-16 24 Feb 98 What a Drag
168. 7-17 3 Mar 98 Taking Jill for Granite
169. 7-18 10 Mar 98 Futile Attraction
170. 7-19 17 Mar 98 Desperately Seeking Willow
171. 7-20 31 Mar 98 The Write Stuff
172. 7-21 21 Apr 98 The Son Also Mooches
173. 7-22 28 Apr 98 Believe It or Not
174. 7-23 5 May 98 Rebel Without Night Driving Privileges
175. 7-24 12 May 98 Tool-Thousand-One: A Space Odyssey
176. 7-25 19 May 98 From Top to Bottom
VIDEO: "Home Improvement" is presented here again in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio by Buena Vista. The quality of the episode presentations are not without a few minor concerns, but the overall impression is better-than-expected. Sharpness and detail were mostly quite good, as the image remained crisp and detailed throughout, with only a few hints of softness here-and-there.
The presentation did show some very slight instances of shimmer and pixelation, but no edge enhancement was spotted and no wear on the elements was visible. Overall, the presentation appeared mostly clean and up to broadcast quality. Colors were bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other flaws.
SOUND: "Home Improvement" is presented here in 2.0 stereo, and the soundtrack was certainly adequate, with clean sounding dialogue, effects and music.
Final Thoughts: As "Home Improvement" heads towards its final season, the series doesn't change the formula a great deal, but ads enough tweaks (I don't think anyone saw the whole "turning Mark into a goth" thing coming) to keep things moderately entertaining. Buena Vista's DVD edition provides very good audio/video quality, but only one minor supplement. Recommended for fans.