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You know a TV show has gone on too long when one or two of the main cast members decide to leave the show towards the end of the run. No matter how popular the show was before that point, it is usually never the same afterwards. Jonathan Taylor Thomas was one of three child actors on the highly popular television, Home Improvement. But after growing up and doing seven seasons, he decided to leave the show early in the final season to do other projects. The rest of the cast remained intact, but still all signs pointed to the eighth season of Home Improvement being its last.
In the final season, Tim’s (Tim Allen) on-air sidekick Al (Richard Karn) finds a rich girlfriend. Tim gets jealous when Al gets to star in a TV movie with Morgan Fairchild. Jill (Patricia Richardson) has major surgery all the while on the way to becoming a full-time psychologist, and finally that famous fence between Tim and Wilson comes down. Besides Randy leaving home for an internship in the Amazon rain forest, Mark’s goth stage is now over with, but he still carries around a video camera. Meanwhile, Brad has to decide on college or professional soccer as his future.
The show was still funny, but the major problem was that there was nothing truly original about it. All of the stuff that worked in previous seasons, like the “holiday-themed” shows and “Mannovations”, worked again in the final season. There was also the serious “dramatic” episodes like Jill have major surgery that were equally as good. The later seasons of Home Improvement featured some real moments that any family is bound to go through. But the final season was all about closure and maturity. Everyone grew up during this season, including Tim at the end who has to make the ultimate sacrifice for his family.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas was not the main reason this was the final season of Home Improvement. But he did leave a significant hole in the cast that was missed throughout most of the eighth season. The writers just ran out of unique ideas and storylines for these characters. The final season is probably the worst one for Home Improvement, but it was still funnier than 90% of the TV comedies out there. Home Improvement will go down as one of the best TV family comedies ever created in the last 20 years.
Episode 1 – Whitewater
Adding to the show’s tradition of paid vacation season premieres, Jill surprises Tim with a whitewater rafting trip for his birthday. They’re joined by Al, Wilson, Heidi, and a conspiracy theorist guide. Back home, Brad and Mark wrestle with a grape soda couch stain
Episode 2 – Adios
The Taylor family has to say some tough goodbyes to Randy after he is unexpectedly accepted into a year-long environmental study program in Costa Rica. Meanwhile, Tool Time holds auditions for a group to write lyrics to the Tool Time theme music.
Episode 3 – All In The Family
Jill’s sister and Tim’s brother get a little too friendly, and interrupt Tim and Jill’s plans to spend some intimate time together.
Episode 4 – Taylor Got Game
Brad is worried about his SATs and is also faced with the tough decision of whether to accept an offer to play professional soccer in Europe.
Episode 5 – Al’s Fair Lady
The Tool Time gang take their show on the road in Tim’s new community fix-up van. Tim and Jill are introduced to Al’s new, very rich girlfriend and Tim doesn’t understand what is so wrong about Al accepting very extravagant gifts from her, which is a car.
Episode 6 – Bewitched
At a Halloween party Tim encourages Wilson to break up with his girlfriend, who claims to be a witch. But after he dumps her he mysteriously disappears. Tim blames the witch but when the police arrive Tim is accused of Wilson’s disappearance.
Episode 7 – Not-So-Great Scott
Jill tells Tim that she thinks one of her patients is seeing Heidi’s husband Scott. Unfortunately, Tim accidentally spills this little tidbit of confidential information to Heidi.
Episode 8 – Tim’s First Car
Jill decides to find Tim an exact replica of his first car after it is junked. Mark helps Brad out in his search for colleges by making a video for him to send out to prospective schools.
Episode 9 – Mr. Likeable
Tim becomes unhappy when Al stars in a TV movie with Morgan Fairchild. Meanwhile, Mark tries to get the affection of the most beautiful girl in his class by listening to her talk about her problems.
Episode 10 – Thanks, But No Thanks
Tim invites his brother Marty and his twins to live with him when he discovers that Marty and his wife, Nancy, are separated.
Episode 11 – Home For The Holidays
Randy returns home unexpectedly for Christmas and discovers all the changes that have gone on in his absence. Tim discovers that his biggest rival in the annual neighborhood lighting contest is Al.
Episode 12 – Ploys For Tots
Tim and Jill try to teach Marty the best way to parent when one of the twins keeps throwing tantrums to get her own way.
Episode 13 – Chop Shop ‘Til You Drop
When Brad finally gets his first car he spends virtually every moment with it until it is stolen and stripped for parts. Tim becomes obsessed with proving who stole it, so he and Al go undercover at a salvage place to find the thieves.
Episode 14 – Home Alone
Tim is alone for the weekend so that he can write a book for Binford. However, he is distracted by dreams of fame and fortune.
Episode 15 – Knee Deep
Brad blames Tim for possibly ruining his soccer career when he injures his knee after tripping over a rolled-up carpet during a Tool Time shoot at the house. The magicians Penn & Teller appear on Tool Time as well.
Episode 16 – Mark’s Big Break
Tim commissions Mark to make a video to celebrate the completion of his hot rod. When Tim is disappointed with the result, Mark films a new version – with a dance number set to “Greased Lightning.”
Episode 17 – Young At Heart
The plans for Tim and Jill’s 19th wedding anniversary go awry when Tim is caught on security cameras in a compromising position with his new female mechanic.
Episode 18 – Love’s Labour Lost (Part 1)
Plans for a ski trip are put on hold when Jill needs an emergency hysterectomy. Tim helps her face the situation, but becomes frightened when complications arise during surgery.
Episode 19 – Love’s Labour Lost (Part 2)
Tim waits for news on Jill’s surgery. Jill will be fine, although she had to have her ovaries completely removed, not partially as was first thought. Jill’s mother comes to visit to help with her daughter’s care and with her mood swings.
Episode 20 – Neighbours
Tim and Wilson’s friendship is tested when Wilson wins $10,000 and decides to build an elaborate greenhouse in his backyard, which blocks the Taylor family’s view.
Episode 21 – A Hardware Habit To Break
Harry announces that he is retiring and selling the hardware store. Tim organizes a fundraising party for the store, but ends up buying it himself. But when the customers dry up, Tim begins to wonder what he is doing wrong.
Episode 22 – Loose Lips And Freudian Slips
Jill’s thesis is before the committee. During Mark’s student film viewing, Jill’s psychology professor sees Jill criticize him and Jill is worried that this will affect the thesis committee’s decision.
Episode 23 – Trouble-A-Bruin
Troubles brew on Tool Time when Bud mandates that no non-Binford products are to be used on the show. Brad has to decide whether or not to play soccer earlier than he is scheduled to when he has an opportunity to play in front of a UCLA scout.
Episode 24 – Dead Weight
Tool Time continues to be a “jewel” despite the continued excess presence of the Binford name. Things rapidly turn sad when Al decides to take his mother out to dinner to tell her he’s going to get married, but then she has a heart attack and dies.
Episode 25 – The Long And Winding Road (Part 1)
Tool Time‘s new producer, Morgan, stages a Jerry Springer style fight on the show. When he refuses to stop degrading the show, Tim quits. Jill’s psychology professor offers her a great job in Indiana.
Episode 26 – The Long And Winding Road (Part 2)
While on the way to school, Tim and the boys reminisce about some of the good times they’ve had. With clips from previous shows.
Episode 27 – The Long And Winding Road (Part 3)
Tim records the finale of Tool Time, with a host of guests and a pregnant Heidi. Morgan offers Tim more money and an executive producer credit to stay with the show, but Tim rejects his offer. Jill makes a decision about the Indiana job offer. Wilson and Tim take down their fence to make more room for Al and Trudy’s wedding. Harry and Delores return for the happy occasion, while Benny, Marty and Jeff bet on the outcome. The Taylors decide to go to Indiana, taking their house with them in the ultimate home project – or is it just a figment of Tim’s imagination?
Episode 28 – Backstage Pass
A retrospective look at eight years of the hit comedy, including interviews with the cast, unseen bloopers and Wilsons entire face being revealed.
The video is given in fullscreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Transfer is good with minimal distortion. Pretty much just like the other sets. No major problems at all.
The audio included is available in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. Again no problems here either, and this is the same as all the previous sets. It’s nothing special, but it’s good for a TV show.
“Tim Allen Presents: A User’s Guide to Home Improvement” Episode –
This is a “clip show” episode of the show that aired in May of 2003. Tim Allen and Richard Karn co-hosted this show, along with Debbe Dunning appearing as well. Besides all the usual highlights from the show, Allen also tries out some new stand-up material and fields questions from a live audience. A nice addition to this set, but nothing that special.
Blooper Reel –
The usual bloopers and gags from this season are included here. It is funny like all the rest of them.
Not the best season of Home Improvement, but it was a respectable way to go out. Not having Jonathan Taylor Thomas appear during most of this season is a downer since the show is not quite the same without everyone being involved. But this is still a great comedy and hardcore fans will want to see how this show ends. If you are just a casual fan of the show, though, you won’t be missing a whole lot if you skip this season all together.
TOUCHSTONE / DISNEY presents Home Improvement – Season 8. Created by Carmen Finestra, David McFadzean, and Matt Williams. Starring Tim Allen, Patricia Richardson, Earl Hindman, Taran Noah Smith, Zachery Ty Bryan, Richard Karn, and Debbe Dunning. Running time: 621 minutes. Rated: Not Rated. Released on DVD: June 10, 2008. Available at Amazon.com