The First Season
Home Improvement is another one of those sitcom based upon the work of a stand-up comedian. In this series, the comedian is Tim Allen as Tim Taylor. The series focuses on the daily interactions of Tim at home with the family and at work with his co-workers. There are twenty-four episodes in the first season and the absolute hilarity of each episode is a clear indication about how entertaining the series is. In general, there are many things about the series that makes it engaging. First and foremost is Tim Allen's performance. In addition, the other cast members add quite a lot and their interactions with Tim and each other make some common and not-so-common daily situations a riot.
Allen's performance of Tim Taylor is without a doubt great. He does a wonderful job making his role very colorful, fun, and vivacious. The way that he delivers dialogue, with a wonderful mix of animated physical gestures and facial expressions, is really great. The character Tim is a loving husband, father of three, and a most importantly, a manly man. He is the host of a home improvement television show entitled "Tool Time". One of the funniest things about Tim is his personality. He's your "average" guy who loves football, cars, tools, and everything "manly" and typically, his personality gets him into plenty of hot water. The rest of the cast include Tim's wife Jill (Patricia Richardson), their kids Mark (Taran Noah Smith), Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), and Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan), the neighbor Wilson Wilson (Earl Hindman), and Al Borland (Richard Karn). Jill plays Tim's wife, a strong woman who is always willing to go up against Tim in one matter or the other. The Taylor kids are quite funny, which can be attributed to their corny behavior. Since they're young, they can easily get away with it. The Taylor's neighbor, Wilson plays a small, but important role to the series. His interaction is mostly with Tim, which always leads to some great laughs. Al is Tim's assistant on "Tool Time". His personality is a bit odd, but he and Tim work well as opposites. In addition, the performance of each cast member is done very nicely and they individually add quite a lot to the overall series through their interactions.
One of the biggest interactions and most entertaining of the series is between Tim and his wife Jill. In quite a number of episodes, Tim gets stuck in a sticky situation after saying or doing the wrong thing. For example in the episode "Reach Out And Teach Someone", Tim tries to teach Jill basic plumbing. Of course, it doesn't work out very well. In an effort to make amends, Tim decides to host a special "Women of Tool Time" episode, which ends up quite funny. There are also some outright fun interactions between them. For instance in "Stereo-Typical", the pair battles it out over Tim's obsession with gadgetry when Tim purchases a new home theater system. There's also a great episode "Satellite On A Hot Tim's Roof" when Tim suspects that Jill and her teacher are getting a little too friendly.
Another great interaction is at the work place between Tim and Al. Tim is a very comical, animated, and goofy guy. On the other hand, Al is much more serious and a bit of a dork, which makes him a perfect target for many of Tim's jokes. Some of the jokes are about Al being single, his extreme affection for his mother, and his flannel-dependent style of dress. However, Al gives as good as he gets, putting Tim at the butt of his own jokes. Another important interaction in this first season (and many to come) involve Tim and his neighbor Wilson. Typically in an episode, when Tim has a problem, he seeks advice from Wilson. From that advice, Tim is able to remedy his problem. The interaction between the Taylor kids is also comical. Brad and Randy are the older siblings. They typically gang up on the younger brother Mark, telling him a variety of misdirected truths. For instance, in the episode "Flying Sauces" they convince Mark that the entire family has been replaced with brain sucking aliens from outer space. The episodes that have this cute pick-on-the-younger-sibling-interaction are always funny.
In general, the first season has some very entertaining episodes. In "Off Sides", Jill looks forward to a romantic dinner out with Tim. They leave the kids at home for a magical evening with magician. This episode is quite funny, because of Tim's approach to romance. In "Bubble, Bubble, Toil And Trouble", the Taylor home gets a little wild and crazy when Tim decides to host a special Tool Time episode of home renovation. What makes this a fun episode are the mistakes that Tim repeatedly makes and Jill's unhappy reaction. "Yule Better Watch Out" is a holiday focused episode, where Tim doesn't really think much about the holidays, but rather about winning a contest. Time and time again, he's lost the neighborhood's annual Christmas decoration competition and this year, he's determined to win. I enjoyed the episode "Unchained Malady", because it plays off of all too common occurrence of the chain letter. In this episode, Tim throws away a chain letter, which results in some bad luck. Considering how clumsy Tim already is, just imagine how he is with bad luck! My favorite episode of the season was "What About Bob?". No relation to the movie with Bill Murray. The episode stars the king of home improvement, Bob Vila, who guest stars as himself on "Tool Time". Tim being a man of pride doesn't take the overwhelming response to Vila on his show very well. It causes him to get jealous and act a little irrational. It's a great episode that allows Tim to really show how unique he is. In addition to the aforementioned episodes, there are many others that are really great.
The experience of watching the entire first season of Home Improvement is simply grand. Each episode is filled with great humor and it portrayed in an ingenious manner by Allen and costars. Fans of the series should be quite happy to finally see this wondrous show making its DVD debut. If you are new to Home Improvement, now is a good time as any to get acquainted with the Taylor family.
2. Mow Better Blues
3. Off Sides
4. Satellite On A Hot Tim's Roof
5. Wild Kingdom
6. Adventures In Find Dining
7. Nothing More Than Feelings
8. Flying Sauces
9. Bubble, Bubble, Toil And Trouble
10. Reach Out And Teach Someone
11. Look Who's Not Talking
12. Yule Better Watch Out
13. Up Your Alley
14. For Whom The Belch Tolls
15. Forever Jung
16. Jill's Birthday
17. What About Bob?
18. Baby, It's Cold Outside
19. Unchained Malady
20. Birds Of A Feather Flock To Taylor
21. A Battle Of Wheels
22. Luck Be A Taylor Tonight
23. Al's Fair In Love And War
The DVD release of Home Improvement is presented in its original television aspect ratio, 1.33:1 Full Frame color. Overall, the picture looks good, with a relatively clean feel. There are very minor color distortions and some points where the picture seems a bit too soft. In addition, there is a slight grain in the picture, but it shouldn't ruin viewing pleasure. Despite the minor imperfections in the picture, it is better than what you would expect to see from broadcast or cable television.
The audio track in this release is English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The sound quality is fairly good, providing clean and audible dialogue. There are also English subtitles.
The special features include three audio commentaries and several themed featurettes. The commentaries cover episodes "Pilot", "Nothing More Than Feelings", and "Forever Jung". The voices behind the microphone for each commentary include creators and executive producers Carmen Finestra and David McFadzean. The themed featurettes, "Loose Screws" include nine different montages of first season clips that cover various themes. Together they run about sixteen minutes. The themes include Just A Minor Technical Difficulty, Masculinity, Call Of The Wild, Howdy Neighbor!, The Language Of Love, Everyone Loves Al, Random Acts Of Tim "The Toolman", What Is That Thing?, and Parenting Lessons. Overall the extras were entertaining enough for a single viewing, but offer very little in terms of replay value.
Watching the first season of Home Improvement is just as (if not more) entertaining as the first time I watched it. The series has a wonderful cast that works together beautifully. In addition, each episode sets up some very comical situations that make this series just fun to watch. For those who are familiar with the series, purchasing this first season on DVD should be an easy decision. For those who are new to the series, this is an easy series to fall in love with. I highly recommended it.