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Home Improvement on DVD: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Season 5 Season 6 Season 7 Season 8

"Home Improvement" The Complete Second Season DVD Review

Buy Home Improvement: The Complete Second Season from Amazon.com Home Improvement: Season Two (1992-93)
Show & DVD Details

Directors: John Pasquin, Andy Cadiff

Regular Cast: Tim Allen (Tim "The Toolman" Taylor), Patricia Richardson (Jill Taylor), Earl Hindman (Wilson), Taran Noah Smith (Mark Taylor), Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Randy Taylor), Zachery Ty Bryan (Brad Taylor), Richard Karn (Al Borland)

Recurring Characters: Betsy Randle (Karen Kelly), Jessica Wesson (Jennifer Sudarsky), Vicki Lewis (Maureen Binford), Pamela Denise Anderson (Lisa), Casey Sander (Rock), Mickey Jones (Pete), Gary McGurk (Dwayne), Tony Carreiro (Dave)

Notable Guest Stars: Will Nye (Angus McLain), Debbe Dunning (Kiki), Rider Strong (Danny), Aaron Freeman (Curtis), Mario Andretti (Himself), Michael Andretti (Himself), Debra Engle (Cynthia), The Manhattan Transfer (Themselves), Ann Miller (Dance Instructor Mrs. Keeney), Dirk Lumbard (Mr. Green), Michael Pniewski (Andy Paxton), Kevin Scannell (Officer Lambert), Stuart Quan (Robert Cho), Polly Holliday (Nana), Paige Tamada (Tiffany), Kathleen Garrett (Stacey Lewis), Ann Guilbert (Wilson's Mother), David Correia (Gus), Bob Vila (Himself)

Running Time: 587 Minutes (25 episodes) / Rating: TV-PG
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: June 7, 2005
Season 2 Airdates: September 16, 1992 - May 19, 1993
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Six-sided fold-out Digipak with cardboard slipcover

Buy Season 2 from Amazon.com / Buy The Complete Series Collection

Page 1: Show and Season 2 Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

Having handily become the top-rated new television show of the 1991-92 season, "Home Improvement" returned in the fall of 1992 without much change.
ABC's widely-embraced family sitcom did move to a different night (Wednesday) and a different time (9:00 Eastern/Pacific), but the show itself stayed the same with the entire cast back. This included Richard Karn as hefty sidekick Al, now upgraded to regular status in the opening credits, which were only altered as slightly as necessary.

At the series' center, once again, was Tim Allen's grunting protagonist Tim Taylor, known to local cable audiences as Tim "The Toolman" Taylor, the host of Binford's home repair show "Tool Time." Tim endured as the staple of the show, a bold car-and-gadget-loving persona dating back to executive producer Allen's standup comedy act in the '80s. In the second season, Tim's roles as husband, father to three boys, and TV host remain at the forefront, and "Home Improvement" particularly enjoys depicting how each role coincides (or clashes, as the case often is) with his full-time, unadulterated masculinity.

To balance Tim's frequent hardheadedness is his wife Jill (played to perfection by Patricia Richardson) who in Season 2 explores some career possibilities when she is hired for a temporary job at a local magazine and asked to return. Tim and Jill's marriage poses plenty of conflict (always resolvable within the half-hour) and their disagreements would often be the basis for a show. The second season provides many a dilemma for the couple that has been married for 15 years, including whether to get involved with friends' romances, asking for directions when driving, determining who owns what in their relationship, and assessing their compatibility (or lack thereof).

The title graphic as it appears in the opening credits sequence. Important safety tip: remember to unplug the lamp before shoving a potato into it.

The three Taylor sons are mostly relegated to B storylines, which is a bit disappointing since episodes with them at the forefront often allowed the show to excel; such was true for a number of Season 2's best episodes. When the writers weren't particularly inspired, Brad, Randy, and Mark would simply be engaging in mischief with the unseen McGurn boys who are apparently neighbors. Among Tim's boys, perhaps the most of Season 2's focus falls upon eldest son Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan), whose maturation includes some serious transgressions, girlfriend Jennifer Sudarsky (the returning Jessica Wesson), and school problems ranging from discipline to mathematics. Middle child Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas, rising in popularity but not quite yet the face of Teen Beat) concocts some clever schemes to pull fast ones on his parents, but Brad is usually stumped in his efforts to carry these plans out. The baby of the family, Mark (Taran Noah Smith), remains often subject to bullying and exclusion from his two older brothers, which leads him both to swallowing a tadpole and taking up karate later in the season.

On "Tool Time", it's business as usual, which means Tim is constantly endangering himself with explosive mishaps. (He even receives a safety award for his antics.) His flannel-clad assistant Al Borland remains faithfully at his side, even while often being the butt of Tim's jokes. Also showing up again from time to time to introduce the hosts and bring things from backstage is Lisa, played by Pamela Anderson. Her appearances in this season are even rarer than before (Anderson was simultaneously starring in the syndicated lifeguard series "Baywatch", for which she is better known) and she would be replaced next year. A few enjoyable episodes explore Tim and Al's friendship off the set of "Tool Time", a relationship which the former always masks with sarcasm.

While facing the day-to-day challenges of parenting, marriage, and being an accident-prone personality, Tim again frequently looks over the fence for help. Always there to listen and advise is the Taylors' sage, enigmatic neighbor Wilson (Earl Hindman). With an applicable quote from somewhere in humanity's past, Wilson is always able to ease Tim's problems, even if much of what is said gets lost in Tim's translation. Somehow, although the formula is the same in most episodes, it never grows stale perhaps due to the excellent chemistry of the neighbors and also in part to whatever efforts went into finding the perfectly relevant, often obscure source for Wilson to cite.

Jill (Patricia Richardson) and Tim (Tim Allen) both look over the fence for advice in this Season 2 moment. Earl Hindman plays Wilson, the Taylors' odd partially-seen neighbor who reliably dispatches advice.

Several of Season 1's guest stars make welcome returns to the show in Season 2. Most frequent are Brad's aforementioned girlfriend Jennifer Sudarsky and Jill's friend Karen (Betsy Randle) whose presence assures uneasy exchanges with Tim; both characters unfortunately did not return after Season 2.
Revisiting "Tool Time" are the oddball guys of K & B Construction (on several occasions) and real life home repair personality Bob Vila, who again provides hilarity as he calls upon Tim's competitive spirits. The season also introduces Vicki Lewis as the ever-cheerful Maureen Binford who becomes "Tool Time"'s producer and present in three episodes.

"Home Improvement" gets off to a bit of a slow start in Season 2, with Tim and Jill being the entire focus of some unmemorable early season episodes. As the greater "family" element falls into the background, the series feels a bit repetitive. Fortunately, this is corrected by the fourth episode "Groin Pains", in which Tim pulls his "favorite muscle." The rest of the season is consistently entertaining without being drastically different from Season 1. As became the norm for the series, the holiday episodes at Halloween and Christmas are two highlights of the season.

Despite its two Wednesday night lead-ins ("The Wonder Years" and "Doogie Howser, M.D.") being cancelled at season's end, "Home Improvement" continued to be in favor with the public. In its sophomore season, it surpassed "Cheers" and "Murphy Brown" to finish as the 3rd-highest rated program of the season, behind only CBS's ultra-popular news program "60 Minutes" and another ABC family sitcom, the offbeat "Roseanne." An average of 18 million viewers tuned in to see Tim and company's weekly fun.

The "Tool Time" gang: Al Borland (Richard Karn), Tim "The Toolman" Taylor, and Lisa (Pamela Denise Anderson). Tim has a football talk with middle son Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas).

The second season brought "Home Improvement" its second of five Emmy awards for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction (this time for the episode "Bye, Bye, Birdie") and again a nomination but loss for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Though television shows often thrive on changes and development, "Home Improvement" did not need any shake-ups early on. Between work and home, there were clearly enough interesting stories to be told involving Tim and the people close to him. So, the similar themes of marital problems and differences in parenting, coupled with the show's trademarks of Wilson's advice and end credit outtakes, again fused together to create a funny family sitcom that most could relate to and even more would enjoy. More than a decade later, the show isn't quite as fresh and certainly isn't very edgy compared to today's fare. Nonetheless, it remains wholly entertaining. Like the best of sitcoms, "Home Improvement" brings you the comfort of characters you care about and amusing stories through which to follow them.

Buena Vista's three-disc boxset contains all 25 of the show's second season episodes, unedited and with chapter stops for quick scene access. A star () denotes my ten favorite episodes from the season.

Tim illustrates a woman's version of a stop sign in "Read My Hips." Tim and Jill disagree after dinner in "Overactive Glance." Tim discourages prancing around in "Groin Pains."

Disc 1

1. Read My Hips (23:28) (Originally aired September 16, 1992)
Tim doesn't pick up on Jill's signals and as a result, he comes home late and misses out on the romantic evening she's planned for them. Jennifer has been punching Brad, which he thinks might mean she wants to kiss.

2. Rites & Wrongs of Passage (23:28) (Originally aired September 23, 1992)

Tim accepts a Scottish "Tool Time" guest's challenge to a caber toss competition. A cafeteria prank and a ride home from a policewoman have Brad grounded for the weekend, meaning he'll miss the monster truck rally Tim has tickets for.

3. Overactive Glance (23:29) (Originally aired September 30, 1992)
After Jill notices Tim ogling a female guest on "Tool Time", she bets him he can't go their whole night at the restaurant without checking a woman out. Debbe Dunning (future "Tool Time" girl Heidi) makes her "HI" debut as Kiki, a curvy diner who Tim struggles not to look at. Tim's sticky solution to Randy's fumbling problem proves to be a bit too potent.

4. Groin Pains (23:30) (Originally aired October 7, 1992)
Tim pulls his groin lifting a book-filled trunk, a fact he tries to keep from Jill. Meanwhile, Randy gets cast as Peter Pan in his school play. Rather than have him prancing around on stage, Tim agrees to build a pulley system so he can fly. Tim's "man pain" makes for one very funny episode.

Tim and Al get in the Halloween spirit in "The Haunting of Taylor House." Al lets Tim into his world in "Roomie for Improvement." In "May the Best Man Win," Tim stands on this faulty roof against the producer's advice.

5. Heavy Meddle (23:29) (Originally aired October 14, 1992)
Tim invites some guys over to help him put an engine in the hotrod he is building. Two of the guys' wives and Jill's friend Karen show up too and the day soon turns into a barbecue marked by matchmaking attempts, which frustrates Tim. The boys do battle with the McGurn brothers.

6. The Haunting of Taylor House (23:30) (Originally aired October 28, 1992)
Tim turns the basement into "The Catacombs of Terror" for Brad's haunted house Halloween party. Brad dresses up as Raggedy Andy to match Jennifer's costume, but she arrives in biker gear with Danny (pre-"Boy Meets World" Rider Strong).

7. Roomie for Improvement (23:33) (Originally aired November 4, 1992)
Mark comes down with the chicken pox. Since Tim has never had them, he reluctantly moves into Al's apartment for a few days. Being Al's "roomie" soon drives Tim crazy. Race car drivers Mario and Michael Andretti show up on "Tool Time."

8. May the Best Man Win (23:30) (Originally aired November 11, 1992)
Mr. Binford's daughter Maureen (Vicki Lewis, in the first of a few appearances on the show) surprises Tim and Al: Daddy has made her the new producer of "Tool Time." She quickly makes some changes that Tim doesn't agree with. Jill gets a job at Inside Detroit Magazine, which means she has less time for Tim and the boys.

Tim and Jill's marriage was one of the tentpoles of "Home Improvement." Here, they share an embrace in the Taylors' kitchen area. Tim challenges Al to a blindfolded wood-smelling contest in "Let's Did Lunch." Santa Borland and Tim "The Elfman" Taylor film a holiday promo for "Tool Time" in the Christmas episode "I'm Scheming of a White Christmas."

Disc 2

9. Where There's a Will, There's a Way (23:29) (Originally aired November 18, 1992)
Tim is extremely reluctant to work on his will with Jill. The Al Borland Fan Club visits "Tool Time." One of "Home Improvement"'s most dramatic episodes, though it's pulled off tactfully.

10. Let's Did Lunch (23:30) (Originally aired November 25, 1992)
Dave, the guy Jill set up with Karen earlier in the season, asks Tim to lie and say that he had lunch with him the day before. When Tim can't keep the truth from Jill, both of them are put in awkward situations with their friends. More entertaining is the blindfolded wood smell test that Al agrees to on "Tool Time."

11. Abandoned Family (23:29) (Originally aired December 2, 1992)
Jill gets another important assignment from the magazine, which leaves Tim having to take care of more duties around the house. Laundry, cleaning, and overseeing the boys' gingerbread house poses plenty of challenges for Tim, each of which he tries to take care of in his own way.

12. I'm Scheming of a White Christmas (23:32) (Originally aired December 16, 1992)
Brad and Randy collect money for charity and keep some for themselves. On "Tool Time", the holiday festivities include an acapella appearance from jazz band The Manhattan Transfer. Christmas episodes often presented the series at its best, and this is one of the finest "Home Improvement" shows ever.

Randy diagnoses Howard, the fish that Brad was watching in the aptly-titled "Howards End." Jill and Tim try to follow Ann Miller's lead in "Dances with Tools." In "You're Driving Me Crazy, You're Driving Me Nuts," Jill is not pleased to discover that they are once again at the same gas station in Ohio.

13. Bell Bottom Blues (23:32) (Originally aired January 6, 1993)
Tim insists on reorganizing the closet his way. Brad gets in trouble at school after Tim hugs him in front of his classmates.

14. Howards End (23:26) (Originally aired January 13, 1993)
While Jennifer is away on vacation, Brad watches her fish Howard, who ends up dying. Tim and Jill disagree over who owns what when Jill opens her own checking account.

15. Love is a Many Splintered Thing (23:28) (Originally aired January 20, 1993)
Tim is troubled by a compatibility test Jill brings home which reveals that
Magazines.com, Inc.
they are not right for each other. Meanwhile, Randy tries his hand at ventriloquism, for which Tim builds a dummy in the Toolman's likeness. An enjoyable episode which allows the cast to revel in amusing shenanigans.

16. Dances with Tools (23:30) (Originally aired February 3, 1993)
For their anniversary, Tim buys Jill ballroom dancing lessons. When he treats the lesson as a big joke, Jill is disappointed in the present.

17. You're Driving Me Crazy, You're Driving Me Nuts (23:30) (Originally aired February 10, 1993)
On a snowy night, Tim and Jill drive to Jill's friend Sheila's wedding. Only, they get lost soon, wind up in Ohio, and Tim is reluctant to ask for directions. The bulk of this episode is devoted to the age-old dilemma of how men don't ask for directions. Karen babysits the boys.

Fun with a ventriloquist dummy. Tim races against Judy the North Pole elf (Paige Tamada), who here plays just an ordinary girl at Mark's birthday party.

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed June 1, 2005.