The Fourth Season
Home Improvement is a fun family-oriented sitcom. The series is based upon the work of stand-up comedian Tim Allen. In this show Tim Allen plays as Tim Taylor. Tim is a family man who makes a living by hosting a home improvement show in Detroit, Michigan called "Tool Time". He is a minor celebrity and more often than not, his ego gets in the way. The show takes a look at the hilarious daily interactions of Tim, at both the home and the workplace. At home we see him with his wife Jill (Patricia Richardson), their kids Mark (Taran Noah Smith), Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), and Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan), and the neighbor Wilson Wilson (Earl Hindman), and at work, Al Borland (Richard Karn) and other coworkers like Heidi (Debbie Dunning). On a few occasions the two groups collide together for some great stories. A big portion of the show is watching Tim get into hot water with his wife, his kids, and his coworkers. Fortunately, his neighbor Wilson is always there to give him advice, although, Tim never seems to be able to follow Wilson's advice exactly, but things always turn out alright. The show's real strength comes from the cast's great chemistry and how goofy every situation gets. For a more comprehensive introduction to this series, please refer to my reviews of season one, season two, and season three.
In season four a variety of things happen with the cast. The stories involve Jill making a dramatic change in her life, Tim and Jill dealing with their boys coming into age, Al investing in Harry's hardware store, Al and Ilene's relationship progresses, Tim's brother dealing with the stress of fatherhood, Wilson dating for the first time in twenty years, and other fun situations. Overall, if you have enjoyed past seasons of Home Improvement then season four will be twenty-six episodes of pure bliss.
In the season premiere episode "Back In The Saddle Shoes Again", Jill comes home with news that she was just fired from the magazine. The next day she decides she wants to pursue a career as a family counselor. However in order to do this, she needs to go back to college for a master's in family counseling, which Tim is less than excited about. But of course, as the story goes on Tim begins to understand his mistake at being unsupportive to Jill's career change and how he should be supportive of her decision to go back to college. At first it seems like Tim is being a jerk about the matter, but it turns out to be more serious. He is afraid if Jill returns to academia, she will realize how dumb Tim is and want someone smarter. It is a somewhat touching episode that also takes a turn for the hilarious.
In the following episode "Don't Tell Momma", Tim gets in a lot of hot water. In the beginning of the episode, Tim gets on Jill's case about proper car maintenance. And like a hypocrite, Tim accidentally drops a three-ton beam on it. To make matters worse, the kids find out and they blackmail him. It is fun episode with Tim's ego getting the best of him. "Death Begins At Forty" takes a serious note. Tim's friend Harry suffers from a heart attack and afterwards, Tim becomes concerned about his own health. After all, his fortieth birthday is just around the corner. "The Eyes Don't Have It" is an episode where the tables are turned for the kids. Usually Randy and Brad get into all sorts of trouble, but in this episode it is Mark who is in trouble. After weeks of Mark not participating and paying attention in class, his teacher summons Tim and Jill for an emergency student/parent meeting. The matter is pretty serious for Tim and Jill because they can't imagine Mark being a "bad" kid.
In "Borland Ambition", Harry offers Tim twenty percent ownership of his hardware store. For only fifteen grand, Tim can be a silent partner in Harry's Hardware. Jill, however, has different plans for the money and refuses to let him invest. Al, on the other hand, has the money and finds himself as Harry's silent partner. The problem for Harry, Tim, and the other patrons is that Al doesn't act silent. He takes an active interest in the way Harry conducts business, which is a headache for Harry and a laugh for us. "My Dinner With Wilson" is an episode where the Taylor's almost lost their favorite neighbor Wilson Wilson. At Thanksgiving dinner, Wilson announces to the Taylor family he believes it is time for him to move on. He puts his house up for sale and leads to Tim and Jill trying to find away to convince him to stay. The fun part about this episode is the role reversal. The episode is cleverly setup the same type of situation where Tim goes to Wilson for advice. In the role reversal, Wilson finds himself over the fence to Tim for advice. It is a hilarious and very well written story.
"Brother, Can You Spare A Hot Rod?" is an episode where Tim sells the hot rod. Tim is made an offer too good to be true by a fellow car enthusiast. He sells the hot rod and later finds a disappointed family at home. Jill also takes Randy cloth shopping. How Jill fits Randy for clothing makes the episode a classic. It is a very fun segment and you'll laugh until it hurts. Jay Leno guest stars. "Bachelor Of The Year" is a fun episode with Al in the spotlight. In this story, Al is declared Detroit's most eligible bachelor. This single act affects both Tim and Al dramatically. Tim is jealous of Al's newfound popularity and Al is overcome by it. Out of the blue, Al develops an ego bigger than Tim's! He starts to think his relationship with Ilene is not worthwhile. To make matters worse for Tim, Mark writes a paper about the most interesting person he knows and he picks Wilson over him. It is a silly episode with Al making a fool of himself.
In "A House Divided", Tim destroys a house. Tim takes Tool Time on location to his friend Benny's grandmother's house to fix a gas leak. While the repair was a success, the utterly oblivious-to-the-obvious Benny forgot one key detail and when Tim turned the gas back on, the house blew up. Afterwards, Benny had to move in with the Taylor and his odd behavior makes for a riotous household. The season finale "Wilson's Girlfriend" is a touching and romantic episode with hints of laughter. In this episode, Jill plays matchmaker and pairs Wilson with one of her college professors. The two hit it off, but it gets quite difficult for Wilson due to personal reasons.
Overall, season four of Home Improvement is another successful addition to the series. The fun family comedy continues to work with Tim Allen and the other cast members turning some common (and not so common) daily situations into light-hearted comedy.
1. Back In The Saddle Shoes Again
2. Don't Tell Momma
3. Death Begins At Forty
4. The Eyes Don't Have It
5. He Ain't Heavy, He's Just Irresponsible
6. Borland Ambition
7. Let's Go To The Videotape
8. Quibbling Siblings
9. My Dinner With Wilson
10. Ye Olde Shoppe Teacher
11. Some Like It Hot Rod
12. 'Twas The Night Before Chaosv
13. The Route Of All Evil
14. Brother, Can You Spare A Hot Rod?
15. Super Bowl Fever
16. Bachelor Of The Year
17. It's My Party
18. A House Divided
19. The Naked Truth
20. Talk To Me
21. No, No, Godot
22. Tool Time After Dark (1)
23. Tool Time After Dark (2)
24. Sisters And Brothers
25. A Marked Man
26. Wilson's Girlfriend
The video presentation is given in its original television aspect ratio of 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.
There isn't much for this department. What is included is a bloopers reel. The bloopers contain never seen before footage. There are some fun bits and it is too bad the reel runs for less than six and a half minutes. I have always enjoyed how the ending credits of Home Improvement have a couple bloopers at the end. Some more extras would have been nice.
Home Improvement is a fun family oriented comedy and this season offers plenty of fun episodes to keep you entertained and laughing. I particularly enjoyed the episode with the Tim/Wilson role reversal and the Jill and Randy cloth shopping. Those two episodes are examples of the pristine writing this series has to offer. Home Improvement season four is a lot of fun and it comes recommended.