Yes, you’re seeing double.
Tim Allen reprised his role as Home Improvement‘s Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor during Thursday’s Last Man Standing. In the episode, Vanessa hired the former Tool Time host (who was sporting a vintage Binford Tools t-shirt) to handle a series of home repairs. The half-hour concluded with a very meta conversation between Allen’s alter egos, which also alluded to the Fox sitcom’s fast-approaching series finale.
Below, showrunner Kevin Abbott discusses the unlikely crossover event (which paid homage to a late Home Improvement cast member) and reveals how Mike and Tim’s discussion will get the Outdoor Man boss thinking about his third act.
TVLINE | Let’s start at the beginning. When did the idea first come about to have Allen reprise his Home Improvement role?
We had already broken the first seven episodes when Fox, as they always do, asked, “Hey, is there some big event, or something grabby you can have as your premiere?” And I just hate those [episodes]. I tend to think of our show as a small show, you know? We tell small stories — so, by definition, something big and stunty really doesn’t happen on our show. It was [our writer] Jon Haller who said, “We’ve had a lot of the Home Improvement people on, and the only major character we haven’t had is Tim Taylor,” and I went, “That’s brilliant. You are going to start getting paid, sir.” [Laughs]
TVLINE | Once the idea was pitched, was it as simple as writing the episode? Or did you have to get permission to use the Tim Taylor character?
There were some legal issues to jump through, believe it or not. I thought, well, this will be easy because I know Tim [will be into it], but we had to jump through some hoops. But [Home Improvement creators] Matt Williams, David McFadzean and Carmen Finestra were quite kind and very generous, and they allowed us to use the character and some of the bits, and we had a great time.
TVLINE | How protective was Allen of the Home Improvement legacy?
I would say very protective. I made him the promise going in that we would respect it. I actually loved Home Improvement, so I didn’t want to do anything that would in any way disparage that character and that franchise, I didn’t want to mock it in any way, shape or form. I wanted to be careful. Maybe they do something with [the ABC sitcom] in the future, a reboot or something, I don’t know, so I didn’t want to trap them in anything either. And Tim and I had several long discussions about where Tim Taylor would have wound up at this point in time. We changed the storyline a couple times in order to try to arrive at a place that we all felt very good about.
TVLINE | The episode featured a scene that paid tribute to Tim Taylor’s longtime neighbor, Wilson, and his portrayer, the late Earl Hindman. Did Allen offer his input?
He wanted to make certain that his affection for the Wilson character and Earl was in there and that it was honest. It was interesting, because the whole episode moved Tim. He was affected by it. He said to me, “You captured some of the things that we’re all going through, which is looking at our run here, moving on, and recognizing how good things have been…” I think he brought a lot of personal emotion [to the episode], and it was really quite powerful.
TVLINE | A lot of what Allen said to you about the episode comes through in that last exchange between Mike and Tim. Does that conversation propel Mike to start thinking about his retirement?
Yes, that’s exactly what propels him. He’s at that stage and wondering: What should he do next? Where will his life go next? Is his life on the track that he wants it to be on? And the fear when you’ve done well in life of trying something new, or taking it in a different direction and maybe not succeeding. We found it to be rich territory that we’re going to continue to explore this season.
TVLINE | Soon enough, you’ll be writing Last Man‘s series finale. Now that Tim Taylor exists in the Last Man Universe, does that rule out a final scene that mirrors Newhart, where Tim wakes up next to Patricia Richardson’s Jill Taylor again after a long slumber?
[Laughs] We talked about a couple of scenarios, but I don’t know. I can’t make up my mind whether I want to go out kind of crazy or more heartfelt, but we’ll figure it out.
Did Last Man Standing‘s Home Improvement episode live up to your expectations — or maybe even exceed them? Grade it via the following poll, then drop a comment with your full review.
I was moved. Tim is a great actor and person. You never see bad press about him, at least it never makes it to Texas. When I was young I thought I would become a comedian, and would give credit to Red Skelton, George Burns, then later Billy Crystal was added, then I saw Tim Allen and he wasn’t just funny, he made sense. If he decides it’s time to stop please let him know, he will be missed, but never forgotten. In my home he is almost as good as John Wayne.
Loved the episode with the two Tim characters and got something in my throat to the nod given Tim Taylor’s friend that passed. God bless all, and as another name I just remembered (Bob Hope) if he were writing this, he would sing to you “Thanks for the Memories”
Great idea and well done!
We were impressed Tim Allen is my hero I love everything he has done. Watch the Santa Claus movies over and over ,tool man,and last man standing over and over. Thank you Tim we will be there no matter what you do next. Please don’t just fade away. God Bless you and everyone involved.
I have always liked the show. Funny, loving , serious. Good show & good people. It’s about life . How a family should be. 2 👍up. Love all your movies , sitcoms. U are Awsome person. Be safe & god bless u
There Both Great Strong Serious and funny Shows
What would have put it into the stratosphere was if Richard “Al” Karn would have been there to assist “The Tool Man”.
Tim Allen is a great actor. I think he would be great in anything he would do. I would love to see him stay on the air alot longer with the last man standing show. But what ever he does I will watch it.
Never liked tool man. Never liked smart ass Jill
I hope Disney revives Home Improvement now that LMS is done.
Can’t believe this is going off air. All good shows leave. Love the family shows. Tim Allen is terrific. Will miss you.
Tim Allen and the cast, they do a great job. The shows love , compassion, caring for each other on how good family life is. It reminds me of growing up with my brother and 4 sisters, coming home and talking about what went on throughout the day, good and bad. The show brought back a lot of memories for me growing up. I hope to see more of Tim in the future. I’m also a car guy like Tim. I would like to meet him someday and show him my 67 Chevelle. Awesome shows, hope to see you again.
Great idea.grew up watching Tim Allen love the actor and comedian thanks for letting us remember simpler time love u keep us laughing and thinking thanks.
The episode was done in taste the way he honored Wilson .Have to remember We are all getting older.
Loved the sitcoms. Tim Allen is an incredible actor/comedian.
I’m a huge Tim Allen fan, especially Home Improvement! Grew up watching it and still watch it again as if it were on tv! Loved the episode with the return of ‘Tim’ very well done and very rewarding for the long wait lol. Hey Tim, i and many of us would love to see more of the tool man please?! Thanks for all you do!!!
Tim Allen is one of the great television comedic actors of all time. He’s right there on the mount Rushmore of his craft along side: Lucy, Alan Alda and Ted Danson. Everything they’ve ever been in has been excellent. Each one brings his and heart and her or his soul to every performance. This has been a great show and it will be sort of a list for being something simple, decent always very funny in the most entertaining manner. Thank you Tim
It deffinitely brought back good memories of watching Home Improvement with my dad, he passed in 97 so it deffinitely brought a tear to my eye, good tears though! Took me back to great time in life when things were more simple and sitting around the tv as a family watching some great Tv. Love the Tool Man!!
I loved it. Watched both Tim Allen shows from the beginning. Was a great episode, especially the tribute to Wilson. I kept secretly waiting for Al to show up, but will have to wait until their next project. Well done!!
I loved seeing Tim Allen’s two characters interact. It was great to see the scene about Wilson. I am very sad this is the final season of LMS. The show has great chemistry between all of the actors. Tim Allen is a great actor and comedian! I look forward to see what he has planned for the future. I will truly miss this show and everyone in it.
I would really love it if somehow you could work the original Mandy into to show during this final season. I loved her so much and was soooo sad when she didn’t return . Couldn’t you work in an episode or two….maybe by being a along lost cousin or something? I really miss her character
Don’t get me wrong. I watched and loved Home Improvement, as I love Last Man Standing, but the finale should include and encapsulate all of the LMS “family” in a typical, but heartfelt episode/ending. It shouldn’t just concentrate on Tim. I will be there for anything Tim Allen should choose to do in the future. I’ve loved all of his “works.”
I love everything Tim Allen does. He really is a great talent. I was so sorry to see Fox ending LMS, just as I was sorry to see Home Improvement end. When Tim Allen is on, I feel like I can relax, I always know I am going to love it, I always know it’s going to be funny and I always know I am going to laugh. I pray that he will have something exciting and new… I can’t wait to see what is next for him!!
I wish the show was not ending. It is one of my favorite comedies. I hope this won’t be the last we see of Mike Baxter and Tim Taylor.
Very respectful of Home Improvement, please don’t do a Newhart; both of Tim’s series are excellent in their own right.
I wanted to like this episode, and for the record, I loved all previous episodes. But it felt too awkward. And the scenes with Mandy & Chris were just plopped in to fill time. Probably not true, but it felt that way. Actress playing Chris has jumped with her weight all over the scale. I don’t believe it’s her fault but… Still overall Mike’s vlogs are the best. A great platform for Tim Allen to be himself, talk with humor about things we all discuss and not many hear. Thank you for the show, despite my negative opinions.