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DVD Review: Home Improvement: The Complete Eighth Season

Home Improvement was a fairly popular sitcom back in the early 1990s... and I sort of remember watching it... vaguely. I remember I liked it, or at least I think I did... for a little while. Eventually I lost interest or got too busy to watch or whatever. Well, here now on DVD is the final season of Home Improvement, and one which I had definitely never seen. First thing I noticed when starting in on this set is man, those three little brats grew! They are now teenagers, and practically unrecognizable. Good ole Al Borland is still around, as is our main man Tim "the toolman" taylor, his wife Jill, and chin-shy neighbor Wilson.

As I watched, I started wondering... where is all the funny stuff? There were a few chuckles here and there, but no where near as many laughs as I remember. Is is just me, or is it the show? I definitely don't find some things as funny as I used to, but is that what's going on here or had the show just run out of steam by this point? Maybe it's a little of both. For instance, in once scene Tim soups up a weed-eater with what looks to be a saw blade, then proceds to use it to chop down some tall grass near a tree... and when he's done and turns to face the camera, the tree falls over like it was cut clean through with a chainsaw. It's impossible, yet for this show it was predictable, and it wasn't funny. But would I have laughed watching that as a kid? I just don't know....

The three boys, Brad, Randy, and Mark are not very funny as teenagers. In one of the earlier episode of season eight, Randy actually leaves for Costa Rica. An emotional, sappy moment to be sure... and guess what I hate to see in my sitcoms? Yeah, monkeys... and emotional, sappy moments. Brad plays the not-so-bright athletic child, while Mark is contently around filming family llfe with his video camera. They both provide setups for jokes that you can pretty see coming from miles away. Some of them are chuckle-worthy, but none are laugh-out-loud. The kids don't seem to be nearly as much of a focus as I remember in the early seasons.

I think the best part of the show is Tim's show Tool Time, where he'll relate whatever project they're currently working on to some personal issue that he's having at home, and usually end up causing some kind of hilarious accident. When they happen all the time, though, they kind of lose their comedic significance. Al, Tim's partner on the show, usually plays the straight man to Tim's outrageous behavior, which does help to sell the jokes. Unfortunately, in the episodes where Al is featured off of the Tool Time show, he seems to be more like a charicature, being silly and overexcited about everything, which seems in direct conflict to what he does on Tool Time.

The series finale actually consisted of three episodes, and involved Tim quitting Tool Time and Jill taking a job in Indiana, which would force the family to move from their current residence in Detroit. But it isn't clear if this actually takes place or not, as Jill gets emotional about leaving the house that they raised their family in and doesn't want to move, and Tim gets offered to become a producer on Tool Time so that he can have more control over the show. Lots of emotional stuff going on here once again, and remember what I don't like in my sitcoms? Yep, monkeys! Oh yeah, and emotional, sappy moments.

So this show may have been quite popular for a while, but at least for this last season there just aren't enough laughs here to make it anything beyond average. The extras in this DVD include bloopers and a special titled Tim Allen Presents: The User's Guide To Home Improvement, which is actually pretty funny. So if you do get this DVD box set, make sure you don't forget to check that out.

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