Tim Allen. A loving wife. Three gorgeous kids. Hm... does this sound familiar to anyone else?
Wait a minute...is ABC rebooting Home Improvement?! OK, obviously they're not. Home Improvement 2.0 is still just a figment of our Jonathan Taylor Thomas lovin' imagination, but Allen's new ABC comedy Last Man Standing bears a striking resemblance to his hit show from the '90s.
Does this mean Allen's got another hit on his hands now? Find out...
Last Man Standing (ABC)
Premieres Tuesday Oct. 11, 8:00 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: NCIS (CBS), Glee (Fox), 90210 (CW), The Biggest Loser (NBC)
Cast: Tim Allen, Nancy Travis, Hector Elizondo, Alexandra Krosney, Molly Ephraim, Kaitlyn Dever
Status: We've seen the pilot episode
Did you think we were the only ones to notice Home Improvement comparisons? Turns out that's exactly what drew Allen to the show. "What I really wanted to do with Last Man was flip-flop Home Improvement in order to investigate what it'd be like to be a man operating around four women who are intelligent, fun-loving and strong," he explains.
So who are these women surrounding his character, Mike Baxter? There's Vanessa (Travis), Mike's doting wife; his oldest daughter Kristin (Crosney), a single mother and waitress; middle daughter Mandy (Ephraim), a vlogger with a Glee obsession; and youngest daughter Eve (Justified's amazing Dever), the smart one. Come on, you should know by now that every family's gotta have the smart one!
In the pilot, we learn Mike is a true man's man: He hunts, he fishes, he makes fun of boys who play soccer and he carries fish with his bare hands. Manly man is manly! Things change when his boss Ed (Elizondo) at the sporting goods chain he works for decides to get rid of the catalog Mike runs in favor of something new: A website! How 2011 of Ed. Right around the same time, Vanessa receives a promotion at work and asks Mike to cut down on his traveling to help take care of the girls and Kristin's baby son, Boyd. Enter, stage right: Mike's struggle to relate to his three daughters while still maintaining his manliness.
While there are a couple jokes that made us laugh (including funny jabs at Glee and Keeping Up With the Kardashians), they were overshadowed by the unnecessary laugh track and the very evident been-there-done-that premise of the show. We've seen this show before. In fact, it's kind of like a Fringe episode, where in the alternate-universe Modern Family is just about Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) attempting to relate to his kids, except not funny. And we couldn't help but wish for more heart and warmth in the pilot.
Sure, it's a comedy and every episode doesn't need to end with a lesson and music cue, but you should feel a little closer to the family and want to share your living room with them. We don't think the Baxter family is there yet—and we're not sure viewers are going to wait around for that to happen with shows like Modern Family and The Middle already doing the job.
On the other hand, Last Man Standing has something those shows don't: Allen, who is one of the most likable and popular actors around—and we're sure there are a lot of people who've been waiting for his return to TV. He gives them exactly what they're expecting in Last Man Standing: a befuddled father trying to relate to his kids while cracking jokes along the way, and that alone will probably keep this show around for a while.
Verdict: DVR, if only for the Toy Story references (there's a great one in the pilot).
Stand by! The rest of our previews of the new Tuesday shows are coming today.
In the meantime, check out the Five Fall Shows We Love.