Home Improvement: Season One

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

A stand up comic with a television show is a dime a dozen these days, but back in 1991 things were a little different. Jerry Seinfeld had debuted “Seinfeld” in 1990, but Tim Allen wasn’t quite as well-known. It’s a bit odd that movies can be written off of a 3 minute SNL skit, but could an entire television show work based on the comic routine of Tim Allen? Evidently it could. “Home Improvement” finished in 5th place for the 1991-1992 season and never left the top five for the next few years (even finishing in the #1 spot in the 1993-1994 year). The show might also be remembered for introducing the world (or the world that had not seen her in “Playboy” the year before) to one Pamela Anderson. Yes, that one. She was the first “Tool Time Girl” and the show’s success was probably due in no small part to her. Ok, maybe that’s exaggerating just a bit. “Home Improvement” played to the masses and was geared as a “Man’s” show, yet it had Allen as a father of three young boys – so his somewhat “adult” routine would have to be played down for the show. It worked and here’s what to expect when you fire up an episode of “Home Improvement”.

Tim Taylor (Tim Allen) runs a show in Detroit, Michigan called “Tool Time”. It’s a fairly popular show that showcases Tim’s passion for building things. The only problem is that Tim is a bit accident-prone and it’s usually up to his more knowledgeable on screen partner Al Borland (Richard Karn), a bachelor firmly devoted to his mother (and both are usually on the wrong end of Tim’s jokes). The show occupies only half of “Home Improvement” as the other focuses on the relationships with his wife, Jill (Patricia Richardson) and his three sons, Mark (Taran Smith), Brad (Zachary Ty Bryan) and Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas). Together, they’re always getting into trouble and Tim always solicits the advice of his all-knowing neighbor, Wilson (Earl Hindman). Believe it or not, this formula worked for eight seasons and “Home Improvement” will go down in TV history as one of the more successful shows to air. Imagine that? Love it or hate it, I’ve personally been waiting a long while for this to come to DVD. Don’t get too attached to Pamela Anderson, though as in later seasons Debbie Dunning takes the reigns as the “Tool Time Girl”.

Video: How does it look?

“Home Improvement” looks fairly good as the episodes aren’t that old (at least I don’t think so). They’re shown in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and there are hardly any signs of aging or deterioration. There’s not a whole lot to say, these look better than the reruns on cable, but not much better. This was certainly before the days when sit-coms were filmed in High Definition, but this is on par with what we’d expect it to look like. I found no visible faults, but nothing that leapt off the screen as being “super” either. This is a good, solid transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

Audio-wise, we can expect more of the same. This show wasn’t exactly effects heavy, but did contain some of the most interesting transitions (from scene to scene) and a few of them actually came out of the surrounds! But the rest of the audio is just dialogue which won’t challenge your system too much. Face it, television shows usually aren’t associated with dynamic audio and this is certainly no exception. We get pretty much what we expected.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Aside from a couple of commentary tracks by the show’s creators, we have a featurette showcasing the show’s “Wildest” moments. Some are outtakes and others just showing things blow up (that Tim built, naturally). The commentaries are informative and a must listen for any true fan of the show. A note on packaging, which I usually don’t comment on, but it’s packaged like a tool box with the upper 30% separating from the lower half. The discs are stored in a cardboard jewel case with two discs overlapped on one side and the third in a regular holder. Seeing it will make more sense. At any rate the wait is over and the first season (hopefully of many more) of “Home Improvement” is here at last. Arrr, arrr, arrrgh…

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