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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Home Improvement - The Complete Fifth Season
Home Improvement - The Complete Fifth Season
Touchstone // Unrated // November 14, 2006
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted November 11, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Fifth 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, season three, season four.

Home Improvement's fifth season is another collection of fun-filled episodes, twenty-six to be exact, that details the crazy lives of the Taylor family and their closest friends. In this season, the content touches upon some very dramatic storylines that include a cancer scare for the family, Tool Time going national and almost losing Al, troubles associated with the younger cast members coming into adulthood, and much more. What this season does well is continue to offer a fun family-oriented comedy that takes serious subjects and provides them in a dramatic, yet comical light.

"The First Temptation Of Tim" introduces a new story arc about the cast and Tool Time. Tim's new boss Bud Harper (Charles Robinson, Night Court) gives Tim the opportunity of a lifetime. He offers to take Tool Time national, which is Tim and Al's dream. The only catch is that Bud does not want Al to be a part of that dream. Tim has to decide what is important, his friendship with Al or Tool Time going national. In the end, he works out a compromise with Bud and manages to keep Al around. This specific episode is a strong example of how this series is able to take a rather serious, dramatic issue and turn it into some laughs. This story arc about Tool Time ties into other episodes like "Chicago Hope" and "Bud Bowl", which are a hoot.

In the episode "Doctor In The House", everyone in Tim's life gets a little unhappy when his alma mater Western Michigan University wants to give him an honorary Ph.D. from the engineering department. It is a pretty good episode and the reaction to Tim getting a Ph.D., especially Wilson who is usually the voice of reason, makes this episode charming. "The Longest Day" is probably one of the most dramatic episodes for this season. In it, the family goes through a cancer scare after Randy has a checkup. The initial assessment leads to him possibility having thyroid cancer. This is a particularly serious episode, but it is handled well by the cast and it really shows what a strong, loving family the Taylor's are. "The Vasectomy One" continues the dramatic storylines interlaced with comedy. Jill wants Tim to get 'snipped'. Of course, what man wants to volunteer for this task? He agrees, but changes his mind when he meets his doctor. This episode is a fun one with a serious topic that Allen handles well.

Other fun episodes this season include "Games, Flames And Automobiles", Al creates a Tool Time board game that tanks, "Alarmed By Burglars", Wilson is robbed and Tim reacts by 'securing' his home to the point of insanity, "Let Them Eat Cake", a Halloween episode with Brad and his new high school buddy throwing a house party, "Eye On Tim", Tim is the target of a TV reporter's affection and Jill gets pretty jealous, and "Oh Brother", Tim hires his brother Marty to work on the Tool Time set and it is a disaster.

Overall, season five of Home Improvement is another collection of fun family-oriented episodes that fans of the series will love. The cast continues to have a fun dynamic together and produces several laughs from both serious and not-so-serious situations. This season includes several great episodes that reveal character development and the general evolution of the series.

Episode Guide

1. A Taylor Runs Through It: Jill has to go to a cousin's out of town wedding. Tim, however, decides to turn the trip into a " bit" of a vacation for the whole family. As a consequence, Jill is hurt physically several times.
2. The First Temptation of Tim: Tim's new boss wants to replace Al because he isn't liked by the younger viewers. Brad is in trouble because he got both detention on the first day of school and detention during detention. On Tool Time, Tim and Al do a salute to port-a-potties.
3. Her Cheatin' Mind: Tim decides to join Jill's book club because he feels threatened by one of Jill's male classmates. Even though Wilson says Tim shouldn't feel that way because Tim and Jill are soul mates, Tim decides to make a fool of himself by discussing "Madama Bovary" with Jill's friends. He didn't even read the book but bought it on audio tape.
4. Jill's Surprise Party: Tim has plans for a surprise party for Jill, but when everybody has shown up, Jill has gone on search for an old piano. At work, Tim's boss decides to spice up Tool Time. That involves a whole new look for Al.
5. Advise and Repent: Because Jill has gotten an A on her psychology paper, she dispenses some amateur psychiatric advice. In the process she manages to cause marital problems between Randy's girlfriend's parents. On Tool Time, Al is turtle-sitting for his mother's turtle, Scooter.
6. Let Them Eat Cake: Tim, Jill, Al and Ilene are at an awards banquet and hope to win an award for Tool Time. The award usually goes to "Cooking with Irma." At home, Brad throws a Halloween party for some of the "new crowd" from school.
7. The Look: Tim gets a good deal on Pistons season tickets but doesn't consult with Jill before buying them for over 4000 dollars. That gives him a "woman's look" from Jill, the same Harry gets from his wife at the hardware store. Suddenly Tim is the most popular among his friends but he realizes that he probably overdid it and decides to sell some of the tickets in an auction.
8. Room Without a View: After Randy decides that he can't stand Mark after his history paper is ruined, Tim decides to do a Tool Time project in his home and convert the basement into a room for Randy. After the room is finished, Randy has difficulty admitting that he's afraid to sleep there by his lonesome.
9. Chicago Hope: Tim and Jills relationship has been put on hold for almost a month and Jill is tired with it. Therefore she hopes that their trip to Chicago will change the situation. But the plans go down the drain when Tim's business meeting takes all day.
10. Doctor In The House: Tim gets an honorary Ph.D., and student Jill and Al is less than thrilled. Even Wilson seems upset. Tim thinks he was chosen because of Tool Time, but when Tim is accepting his degree, he finds out the real truth.
11. That's My Momma: Tim's visiting mother doesn't want to spend time with him but goes out with Tim's old shop teacher, Mr. Leonard. Friends and family suggest that Tim might try talking about more personal matters with her. He thinks he isn't able to do that.
12. 'Twas The Flight Before Christmas: Tim and Al get stranded in the airport on Christmas Eve on the way to a winter festival which Binford sponsors. Ilene thinks Al is too attached to his mother and makes him choose between them. The boys beat Doc Johnson in the lighting contest without Tim's help. On Tool Time, Tim and Al do a salute to electricity.
13. Oh, Brother: Although Tim thinks it is a bad idea, he hires his brother Marty to rebuild the Tool Time set, after Marty lost his job. They get on each other's nerves and put their friendship in jeopardy. At home and on Tool Time, Tim tries to boil fish in the dishwasher.

14. High School Confidential: Randy's science and math abilities land him in classes at the high school where his older brother Brad feels overshadowed. Meanwhile Tim and Al introduce " The Man's Bedroom" on Tool Time.
15. Tanks For The Memories: Tim and Jill are squaring off in a tank-driving competition on an obstacle course. Jill, raised as the daughter of an Army officer, turns out to be quite the commando, while Tim's tank tactics of course, end in disaster. Tim doesn't realize that he should praise Jill for her good driving, instead he feels that she humiliated him.
16. The Vasectomy One: Jill wants Tim to undergo a vasectomy when they decide their family is complete. He agrees that they should talk to a doctor but when it is a woman, Tim wants to forget about it. Randy has been voted "best butt" by the girls in his school. On Tool Time, an air-driven furniture mover is introduced.
17. Fear Of Flying: The Columbia astronauts make an appearance on Tool Time and take Tim's special screwdriver on a mission. Mark wants to take flying lessons which Jill does not approve of. Jill decides to take piano lessons, to the dismay of the rest of the family. Tim and Al ruins Bud's car.
18. When Harry Kept Delores: Harry's Hardware becomes less of a last refuge when Harry's wife comes to work. When the marital advice Tim gives Harry results in the break-up of his marriage, Tim takes matters into his own hands to fix what he broke. Meanwhile on "Tool Time," country music superstar Alan Jackson performs his hit song, "Mercury Blues."
19. Eye on Tim: Tool Time is the subject of a local TV report, and sick Jill is not pleased with the reporter's advances toward Tim. Tim is impressed by the reporter because of her fascination of tools. She and Tim end up at "Big Mike's" where Tim finally realizes what she is up to.
20. The Bud Bowl: While bowling with his boss and his boss's wife, Tim wants Jill to throw the game to spare Bud's feelings and keep his future out of the gutter. But that creates a split between the Taylors. Brad's girlfriend, Angela, sets up her sister and Randy.
21. Engine and a Haircut, Two Fights: Brad and Tim get into an altercation over both Brad's new haircut and what type of engine to put into the hotrod. Randy gets a part in Romeo and Juliet and is less than enthusiastic over Jill's offer to help him rehearse.
22. The Longest Day: After a routine medical checkup for the boys it is discovered that Randy may be suffering from cancer. The family endures a long and painful wait for the results of Randy's blood test.
23. Mr. Wilson's Opus: Wilson takes over as director of Randy's school play but trying to get more from the kids that they are capable of, he takes all the fun out of Shakespeare. Tim has his heart set as set designer but also gets upset when Wilson wants him to completely redesign the set.
24. Shopping Around: Tim's mother goes out with his high-school shop teacher, Art Leonard, but Tim and Jill go to a restaurant and discovers Art with another woman. Tim ruins Art's appearance on Tool Time where we also see Wilson. Art has to tell Tim's mother the truth, but she has already found out.
25. Alarmed By Burglars: After a burglary at Wilson's, Jill allows Tim to go all out in buying a fancy security system for their home. But it's most alarming when they keep setting it off themselves. Wilson retaliates by taking up a petition among the neighbors. Brad tries to buy the answers to a test from Jason but doesn't know that Tim has installed a video camera outside the house.
26. Games, Flames And Automobiles: Al thinks his "Tool Time" board game will give him the financial security to propose to Ilene. But faulty wiring on the product sends his plan up in flames, along with his investment of his life savings.

The DVD

Video:
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 grain in the picture, but it shouldn't ruin viewing pleasure.

Audio:
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 and support for closed captioning.

Extras:
The only extra supplied with this set is a bloopers reel that runs for seven and a half minutes.

Final Thoughts:
Home Improvement is a fun, family-oriented sitcom about the Taylor family and their closest friends. In the fifth season, the series takes on some serious, dramatic storylines that include a cancer scare, a major career change for Tim and Al, Tim becoming Dr. Taylor to everyone's dismay, and the boys growing up and getting into their own messes. Overall, season five is a fun season with a solid cast.

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