Home Improvement (1991–1999)
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Games, Flames & Automobiles 

Al invests his life savings to market a "Tool Time" board game and hinges his decision to propose to Ilene on the game's success.



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Randy Taylor (credit only)


Al invests his life savings to market a "Tool Time" board game and hinges his decision to propose to Ilene on the game's success.

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Comedy | Family




Release Date:

21 May 1996 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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References Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) See more »

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Down to the Wire.
3 November 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Al is having an existential crisis, or a mid-life crisis, which ever way you look at it. He's approaching the big 3-7 and fears the best years of his life are behind him with nothing that displays his creative talents to show for it. In an attempt to help, Tim mentions that Tool Time board game he made, and although he thought it was stupid, everyone else liked it. A Binford 6100 watt light bulb goes on in Al's head...meanwhile, Tim goes home to spend some time with the love of his life: his hot rod. And when it comes to his prized possession, Tim's got a one-road mind. Suddenly, Jill comes in to spoil his fun, telling him that Al has just invested his entire life savings into marketing his Tool Time game. You all remember Al's Tool Time board game, right? Play as Tim, Al or Heidi, in sort of a Candyland/Monopoly hybrid. In the game's first appearance a few episodes back, the figurine of Tim was in a bodycast, but now he's wearing his regular clothes. Anyway, with his confidence higher than ever, Al has decided the time was right to propose to Ilene. He tells Tim in confidence, which he mistakingly tells Jill just after she gave Ilene some amateur relationship advice. As expected, Jill lets the cougar out of the bag, and an ecstatic Ilene heads out to pick china patterns. Well, as good as things were going for Al.... yeah, things are about to take a horrifying turn.

Tim, Jill and Mark treat themselves to the board game Al gave them as a show of appreciation. This game is incredible as it comes with special effects, including a working toy ambulance. Unfortunately, the tiny hospital catches fire. Tim diagnoses the problem being that the wiring is 26 gage instead of 18. He tries to call Al immediately, but gets a recording from him, promising that if customers are not satisfied with their game, they'll get double their money back. Yeah, Al's screwed. So he gets over to the apartment, just as Al and his brother Cal are filling non-stop orders. Tim shows him the wiring problem, so they try to track down the guy who installed it in the games. Turns out it was some fly-by-night shyster who's gone to the big house. Now Lars' Games is Dave's Fortune Cookies. Now it seemed all is lost: Al will have to sell his beloved cabin, and he feels he has no right to ask Ilene to marry him now, and to top it all off, even the fortune cookies say it's the end of the road for him. In a last ditch effort to help his friend, Tim assembles Jill, Heidi, Wilson, Cal and Ilene to rewire all of the board games manually, though the games aren't the only ones wired, as Wilson has himself way too much coffee. By the way, I thought Heidi was going on vacation. Flight got canceled, maybe? So Al comes home and sees what his friends have done, and you couldn't find a happier man than Al Borland at that moment. But that's not the best part: with his confidence restored, he finally pops the question, and you couldn't find a happier woman than Ilene Markham. In lieu of a ring, Al places a little removable tool belt on her finger. Last but not least, it's finally time for Tim to start up his hot rod. It roars to life, and now, you couldn't find a happier man than Tim Taylor.

A very happy ending, indeed. However, if you've looked ahead to Al and Ilene's wedding episode in Season 6, things don't go as planned. It's genuinely heartbreaking, actually, but thankfully that's another story. Games, Flames and Automobiles was a great episode, fun, hilarious and even a good amount of drama. How many of you wanted a Tool Time game after watching this? For whatever reason, they never made a real-life board game, which is odd considering this is Disney. However, a Tool Time game of sorts came out on the Super Nintendo in 1994 called Power Tool Pursuit. Apparently some new Binford Tools branded with Tim's name have gone missing, so he searches the whole studio lot for them. Yeah, they made a side-scrolling action game out of Home Improvement. Haven't you always wanted to play as Tim Allen fighting dinosaurs with various power tools? I'm not kidding, this game actually exists! While I don't really recommend that, I definitely recommend this episode. Get your game on! So if you're planning to get Home Improvement on DVD, I do recommend Season 5. I think my favorite episodes are The Look, Fear of Flying, When Harry Kept Deloris, Tanks for the Memories, Games, Flames & Automobiles, Alarmed by Burglars, Twas the Flight Before Christmas, and A Taylor Runs Through It. My least favorites are Oh, Brother, Eye on Tim, Mr. Wilson's Opus, Doctor in the House, Bud Bowl, and Chicago Hope. Stay tuned for Season 6 where things are about to get very wacky.

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