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Guys Nite In., 10 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On Tool Time, Tim preaches about how women don't pay attention to detail like men do, but I'm sure even THEY would notice if lacquer on a fender was wet or not before laying their arm on it, as Tim so carelessly does while trying to verbally prove his point. After the show, Tim and his buddy, Fred Axelby, discuss tonight's poker game, and how Murray won't be able to make it. Now they'll be a guy short. Tim will have to find some gullible sap to take Murray's place, so he asks Al, who accepts the invitation. At home, Tim can't stress enough how tonight will be GUYS ONLY night, and hopes Jill and her sister Robin will still be taking the boys to the art museum while her husband Charlie stays to play poker. Unfortunately for Tim, EVERY time he plans a guys' only night, something goes wrong. The red flags shoot up the pole when Robin waltzes through the door without her husband. Apparently they had a fight and she let him out of the car. Tim was none sympathetic, pining for his poker buddy, who then came running in the door, out of breath, and he and Robin continue their fight. Just what Tim needs on poker night. He demands her out of the house, and Jill swears they'll leave as soon as they work things out. In other words, Guys Only Night has officially been canceled. And if you thought Tim and Jill were childish with their fights, get a load of Charlie and Robin. She actually throws his car keys out the door, forcing Charlie and Tim to search for them with flashlights.

After they find the keys, and Fred and Al arrive, they poker game can Finally start. Unfortunately, Robin keeps going in and out of the kitchen, distracting them. Tim knows she's waiting for Charlie to apologize and coaxes him to do so, but he won't budge, proud man that he is. But after some convincing, he calls Robin down and gives her a man's apology: staring at the floor while saying "I'm sorry." She forgives him, but then he puts his foot in his mouth again and the feud's back on. The game itself is pretty lousy, as Al folds ever hand, and Tim gets one lousy hand after another, and it sure didn't help when Mark comes in unexpectedly, looks at his dad's cards and announces them for the other guys to hear. Another hand later, Al finally decides to get in the game and raises $3. He says he has a flush: all black cards. "Read'em and cry." Oy vey. Well, to be fair, he did say he hadn't played poker in 4 years, and I guess Tim and Fred were nice enough NOT to remind him of the rules. Guess they were hoping he'd bet all his money and they'd take him to the cleaners. Anyway, Robin comes downstairs after having a long, husband-bashing chat with Jill, and she's really ready to forgive Charlie. They make amends and... he's out. They leave right in the middle of the game. Now they need a fourth person. Al suggests Jill, which Tim vehemently protests, as a poker table was no place for a woman. However, he was overruled, so he goes outside to talk to Wilson. Taking newly weds' Robin and Charlie's bickering into account, and how he gets so mad at Jill, he wonders how men and women can even stay together. Wilson says it all has to do with strong will power and nature, if two people are meant to be together, they stay together. If it's "in the cards", so to speak. Later on, after Fred and Al have left, Tim and Jill talk out their feelings on the poker table. Then they have themselves a little "game", with Jill holding a cigar in her mouth and calling herself Murray.

Most sitcoms have a poker game episode, usually including friends that never appear on the show again. Seriously, Fred and Charlie are never seen or talked about again. Tim does get "regular" friends in Season 4, and of course Wilson is included in more of the fun, and I guess he wasn't at the poker game in this episode because at this point in the series, he never left his backyard. The premise of women interrupting Tim's guys only night is repeated in Season 2's "Heavy Meddle" in which Tim, Al, and some more friends we never hear about again are dropping the engine into his hot rod while Jill tries to play matchmaker. Anyway, while "Luck Be A Taylor Tonight" has a few humorous moments, it's by no means a spectacular episode. It just comes off as mean and unpleasant, not a whole lot of story, nor characters we actually care about, aside from the regulars. But I suppose it's worth seeing, at least once. And as of now, I've finished critiquing all 203 episodes, all 8 seasons of Home Improvement, a show I watched fondly back in the day...first discovering it in 1995, and I caught it every day in syndicated reruns. It has a lot of great episodes, a lot of horrible ones, and a lot of alright ones. It was definitely underrated in its time, and when looking back on it today, it's really a gem. A clean, non-offensive, light comedy that both young and old can enjoy. They don't seem to make shows like it anymore.

Unaccustomed As I Am., 10 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jill has to give a speech. Shouldn't be a problem, as accustomed to talking as much as she does. As she tries to write it up, Tim does his best to keep the boys quiet, which is easier said than done. Those little hellions were roller-blading in the living room. But Tim made sure they wore their helmets. Then Jill comes downstairs, procrastinating over writing her speech. Tim has to remind her that the library is counting on her speech to rake in the $7,000 they need. But, hey, no pressure or anything. Next day on Tool Time, Tim gives a spiel on how men should help out with house cleaning, and even suggests house cleaning appliances should be designed for men, like more-power vacuum cleaners that will suck the carpet right off the floor. And in case you're wondering if Tim practices what he preaches, he sure does. When he gets home, he stuffs cleaning supplies into his tool belt and demonstrates for the boys how to clean the house the "power way." He has Brad and Randy wash the windows, while literally mopping the floor with Mark. He even cooked Jill her favorite lunch: Beanie Weenie Cassarole. Regardless of all the nice things he's trying to do for her, she's still being a stuck-up, self-conscious procrastinating shrew who hasn't written word one for her speech.

Her mood isn't much lightened when she learns Tim rewired the vacuum. He demonstrates for her the new Power Suck Mode, which gives it the power of a tornado. Good thing Mark was wearing his safety wires or else he might have gotten hurt. Moving on... remember Brad's new girlfriend, Jennifer? He thinks she likes him, because today, she hit him in the arm, twice. Hard. It's definitely meant to be. As for Jill and her speech, Tim tries to give her as many useful tips as he can muster...all 2 of them, but regardless, she refuses to budge. Even advice from Wilson doesn't seem to make an impression...especially after Tim misquotes him, as usual. Randy tells her a joke, Mark makes her a peanut butter and jelly milkshake, and then, Tim gets a brilliant idea, which for him are few and far between. He and Mark will act as Jill's audience while she reads the speech she finally wrote to them. Not only that, but since the members of the library fund-raiser are women, Tim dresses up himself and Mark was women... not the WHOLE nine yards, mind you, just earrings and hats. Flattered, Jill delivers her speech, and Tim compliments her, saying it was very good and she'd be a fool not to give it. So, she gives it, she's a big hit, and then she and Mark drop Tim off at Tool Time, where Mark tells Al about how he and his father dressed up like women, and I'm very sure he won't let Tim live this one down.

How many of you can relate to Jill? Having to give a speech in front of dozens of people and you're so self-conscious about looking or sounding bad, even if you don't. While this episode was standard and not very funny for the most part, that scene with Tim and Mark playing women was quite humorous, and it shows what a caring and supportive husband he really is. Not much else I can really say about this episode, because as I said there isn't much story, it's just Jill trying to prepare herself to deliver a speech. But it's still a good episode and I do recommend checking it out. I think, though, in the end, no amount of rehearsals or public speaking classes will truly prepare you for the real thing. But what will get you accustomed to public speaking is to actually go out and do it.

Get the Message., 10 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There's a big development happening in the Taylor garage. Tim has acquired the frame to a '34 Ford Roadster. He's going to build his dream hot rod all from scratch. Sure it may look like a rusted hunk of metal now, but by the end of Season 3, it's gonna be a true, blue beauty. Not being a car guy, Randy isn't too interested in helping the old man build the hot rod, and Jill isn't so crazy about that prospect either. But why should she be, given her limited knowledge of tools? I'm not accusing, she REALLY knows bupkis about tools, especially since she tried to use Tim's screwdriver AND needle nose pliers to unclog the sink when the plunger failed. A disgruntled Tim decides he's going to teach Jill a thing or two about basic plumbing. That doesn't last long, as Jill asks stupid questions and Tim loses his temper, and ends up doing the job himself. Later on after he's calmed down, Tim apologizes to Jill for losing his cool, and does she reciprocate? No, of course not. Nothing is EVER her fault. Since she won't listen to him at home, Tim vents his frustrations on Tool Time the next day. He talks about how men have learned to do housework like laundry and such, but the women don't follow suit and learn to do men's work. And, since he's such a self- proclaimed expert, Tim decides to set up a little workshop on the show to teach women how to do some household repairs. But first, it's time to finish the project at hand: sanding a table. Naturally, Tim plugs it in without checking to make sure the trigger wasn't already locked on, and the belt sander zips right off the table.

At home, as Tim and Brad work on sanding the rust off the frame, they have a heartfelt talk about studying and applying yourself when it comes to school and learning. Brad's feeling a little insecure since no matter how hard he studies, he always gets C's, while Randy always aces. Tim points out how much better at sports Brad is, and assures him that everybody is better at some things than others. Hopefully Tim will remember this next time he tries to teach Jill how to fix the sink. And as for that woman tool workshop he's putting together, he's having a little trouble obtaining an all-female audience. I think the cracks he made about women on the previous show had something to do with that. A talk with Wilson helps to get Tim to realize that he's got to lighten up on the "meta messages" and keep it simple. Layman's terms, none of that inside B.S. jargon that nobody understands. Well, on to the show, and to Tim's good fortune, there was an all-female audience. I guess Lisa knew a few people and Al spread the word to his friends at bingo. Nope, Tim pulled a fast one and tricked the Cooking with Irma audience to come to Tool Time. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Tim manages to wrangle three volunteers, Judith, Greta, and Jill, who says her name is Rita. Their first project was a running toilet, which Judith managed to fix easily, and without the tools Tim planned to use. Next is a clogged sink, which Greta was supposed to fix, but she just wasn't feeling up to it, so Al invites her to go and rest. How about "Rita"? She says her husband yells at her whenever he tries to teach her anything. Tim apologizes for using meta messages and for being a big lout. So, Tim successfully teachers her, I guess, and as a show of appreciation, she has his favorite picture of a hot rod with a babe on the hood blown up...minus the babe. And as for Brad and his math test, he was hoping for a C, but guess what? He got a C+! He's gonna graduate! To cap off the whole shebang, Tim takes an imaginary drive in his soon-to-be hot rod.

Do you think Jill will be able to handle household repairs from hereon out? I doubt it. The next time we see her do anything like that is next season in "Birth of a Hot Rod" where she's trying to fix the stove. Well, let's just say she isn't as ignorant about tools anymore. The moral of our story is before you teach, you must learn. Tim learned not to use 'meta messages' to make himself sound superior when trying to teach Jill, and the same can be said for any field, any situation. Especially the technical and medical fields. If you thought tool jargon was difficult to understand, try listening to some of their babble. Reach Out and Teach Someone is a very good episode and I recommend checking it out. You might just learn something.

The Bathroom of My Dreams., 10 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Taylor men were all gathered in the master bathroom one morning, but for different reasons: Tim was trying to shave, Mark was pretending to shave, Brad was looking for a hairbrush so he can actually brush his hair to look good for his new girlfriend, and Randy came to make fun of him. The boys wonder why Jill has so many different accessories on her side of the small sink, and Tim tells them what he thinks they're for. After he and Jill crowd each other at the sink, Tim decrees he should install a second one, saying it will be a small project, but since his wife is all too familiar with his idea of "small" projects, she promptly denies him. But with Tim being Tim, he won't give up so easily. He attempts to sway Jill with not only an additional sink, but a special make-up area AND a whirlpool, which actually manages to peak her interest. But then the question of coast is broached, and of course, Tim has the answer: Tool Time project. Binford foots the bill. Under those conditions, Jill finally agrees. Meanwhile, Brad is going to great lengths to impress little Jennifer Sadarsky, up to and including making his hair look like Bart Simpson's, and of course, Randy never hesitates to rib him for it. Kids.

Construction for the Taylors' new bathroom quickly gets underway, and almost immediately, disaster strikes. Tim has gotten his hands on a twenty pound sledge, which he intends to use to knock out the wall where the sink stood and replace his galvanized pipes with copper. Of course he swings the hammer too hard and breaks a huge hole right through the wall. Ten days later, they're finally ready to install the giant whirlpool. Unfortunately, that's going to be easier said than done, because, as master plumber Felix Myman measured, it won't fit up the stairs. The only alternative would be to hoist it up to the second level, knock a hole into the wall and slide it in. And if you think Jill was grumbling over the destruction in their bathroom before, when she finds out Tim has to make ANOTHER hole in the wall she's fit to blow a gasket, but as a compromise, he'll add a new greenhouse window. Unfortunately, after 7 days, Tim was having a little difficulty locating that window. and worse than that, the guys had to shut the water off due to some, shall we say, technical problems, AND they had to shut the gas off when Tim busted the water main as a safety precaution. It's at this point Jill wants to give up the ship and go to a motel with the boys. So now Tim is stuck with a busted up bathroom, no wife, no kids, and a hole in the wall. Fortunately Wilson is there to lend an ear, and he attributes Tim's constant yearning to create and improve things to the fact that men cannot bare children. Thankfully Jill and the boys return, mostly because she missed the big lug. Tim did manage to finish the new bathroom, though, and when he unveils it to Jill, she was just the happiest girl who ever lived. Not only were there now two sinks, but new toilet with automatic toilet seat, make-up area, and best of all, new whirlpool AND greenhouse window. It was breathtaking! Well, the guys saw very little of Jill after that, as she locked herself in the bathroom to take a 7-hour whirlpool bath.

First episode to feature a Tool Time remote at the house, and the first time Tim remodels a room. There's a similar episode in Season 3 where he remodels their closet, and it's ever bit as awesome as the bathroom in this episode. Doesn't it look like something right out of Macy's? I'd say the holes in the wall were worth it. This was also the first time, and probably only time that Jill leaves Tim over something like this. Not leave as in separation, but as in leave the house and stay somewhere else, and with the kids too. I guess she wasn't used to this sort of thing yet. I definitely recommend Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble. It's funny, it's touching, it's thrilling, it's something we all wish we could put in our homes.

He Said, She Didn't., 10 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One fine day, Tim and Mark were busying themselves by building a birdhouse. But this isn't just any old birdhouse. This one's cable ready. But then Jill comes in to tell Tim about an opera fund-raiser they're going to on Saturday, which Tim swore he never heard her mention before, despite her claims to the contrary. Anyway, on to Tool Time where Tim and Al talk about spring cleaning...the engine, that is. A filthy car engine that's accumulated dirt and muck over winter. Then Tim goes on a rant about how women know bupkis about car engines and just how important they are. Two elderly gentlemen in the audience agree heartily with Tim and he invites them out on stage. So the two men, Hick Peterson and Eddie Phillips join the Tool Man, as well as Al, whom they're big a fan of. Then they talk about their life's profession: 42 long years working an auto assembly line. A dream job. And after that, they'd go down and have themselves A Stinky, which is a sandwich designed by Hick that includes Limburger cheese, sauerkraut, Bermuda onion and hot mustard, and they have them down at Big Mike's Tavern, which Eddie passionately plugs right there on the show. Deciding he wants to try that place out, Tim tries to get Jill to go on Saturday, but she's still hellbent on going to that opera fund-raiser. Not only does Tim not remember agreeing to go, but he forgot it was his idea.

Apparently the Taylors were asked about it at church two months prior and Tim had politely said "yes, we've love to go." They argue, mostly over telling someone what you mean, when you mean it, and he vehemently refuses to go to the fund-raiser, so Jill decides to go alone. After that, Tim goes down to Big Mike's alone, he meets ol' Mike himself, and even runs into Eddie and Hick. They hear of his plight and offer their own advice. Hick suggests Tim remind Jill who wears the pants in the family, even though Jill was planning to wear a full tux to the fund-raiser. Hick is very old fashioned, he believes a dame should be seen and not heard, while Eddie takes the more sentimental approach, saying women are very subtle creatures. He even helps Tim to realize that he WAS told about the fund-raiser, but in very subtle ways, such as Jill having his suit cleaned, and to keep Saturday open, and even the date circled on the calendar saying "fund-raiser", which Tim misread as "fur raisins." Meanwhile, Jill talks to Wilson about the whole fiasco, realizing she did everything but DIRECTLY tell Tim about the fund-raiser. Yeah, that probably could've saved you both a lot of trouble. He helps her to see the error of her ways, without really even saying anything. Then, Tim and Jill make amends, Tim admits he wasn't listening, he apologizes, and Jill doesn't reciprocate. So they go to the opera fund-raiser, and afterwards they stop at Big Mike's to join Hick and Eddie. Hick gets to dance with Jill, while Eddie gives Tim more pointers on married life, having 45 years' experience, and he says that when all is said and done, you don't have to understand a woman, just love her. Finally, remember that birdhouse Tim made at the beginning of the episode? He set it up in the backyard, and already it has its first tenants.

Veteran character actors Ernest Borgnine and Jack Elam brilliantly portray Eddie and Hick, two amusing characters who we unfortunately never see again. As for the premise of mixed messages Tim doesn't get from Jill, they sort of repeat that in Season 2's "Read My Hips" where Tim can't take a hint from Jill wanting him to come home to a romantic dinner for two she'd been planning, and boy did he royally foul things up. It's also too bad Tim didn't get to try a Stinky, I would've liked to see his reaction, and if you want to make your own at home, be my guest. So anyway, while not quite as funny as the episodes that came before it, Birds of a Feather Flock to Taylor is still a very good episode. If you're a fan of Mr. Borgnine and Mr. Elam, or if you want to see Tim and Jill get into a big miscommunication argument, then this episode is for you. We have a Big Mike's in my town, but it's a Philly-themed sandwich place.

How Green Was My Hand?, 10 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While perusing the daily mail, Tim finds a chain letter, and it's addressed to him. It requests him to send it to at least 10 other people within 24 hours or he will be stricken with bad luck. Apparently a naval officer ignored the chain and was decapitated. Tim thinks the whole thing is a lot of B.S. and throws the letter away. When he gets to Tool Time, he's late because his battery died, and then somebody took his parking spot. He also learns who sent him the chain letter, and it was Al who, on the other hand, was having very good luck. He found $20 and won a shovel on a radio contest...oh, and the heat in Lisa's apartment is broken and she asks to stay with Al. Yowza. At least one good thing came out of Tim's morning: George Foreman has agreed to appear on the show. Oh, and apparently they were working with some dye on the show at some point, because when Tim gets home, his hands are dyed bright green. Jill and Karen have themselves a good laugh, and then when Tim tells them about George Foreman coming on the show, they pretend not to know who he is, or what boxing is, so Tim attempts to teach Jill the finer points by goading her into putting up her dukes and trying to hit him. Well he was just asking for that right hook to the face after Mark distracts him.

Regardless of all the beastly bad luck he's been having, Tim says it has nothing to do with throwing out the chain letter. Despite this, he still goes outside to search all the garbage cans for it. But all he finds is a wrecked bicycle Wilson found hidden under his fence. Randy's new bike, and he totaled it doing something stupid. Apparently he accepted a dare and took a spill off of a five-foot high ramp. And even though what Randy did was foolish and couldn't hurt him, Tim still gives his son a pat on the back and condones his actions, because apparently when he was Randy's age, he accepted a dare to jump in the mud naked. But now, on to Tool Time with George Foreman, despite having a black eye and green hands, Tim was still tickled pink to having the former heavyweight champion on the show. Mr. Foreman's mind seemed to be more on food than tools, however. But he still agreed to help them build a staircase, and in order to successfully drive in that nail, George had to get himself good and mad. Fearing for his life, Tim asks Al, Lisa and even George to hold the nail, but after a trio of "I don't think so, Tim," Tim decides to start the nail himself. Probably a safe idea, because when George swung that hammer, he took out that entire staircase in one fell swoop. When Tim gets home, he talks with Wilson about his streak of bad luck, and the neighbor chocks it up to the idea of bad luck being entirely in his head and that "crap happens." But as a preventative measure, Wilson just happened to have some wolfs bane handy, and that, along with garlic, should ward away the evil spirits. After that, Tim talks with Randy over what he did, and while it was a stupid stunt, he still commends him for taking the risk. Then Jill points out to Tim that isn't the chain letter that brought him bad luck, but his own klutziness. Then they kiss and make-up, because... for the hell of it, I suppose. And then, Tim tries to teach Jill boxing yet again, and just like last time, he's too easily distracted.

As for Tim's green hands, I guess they change back to normal in the next episode. Unchained Malady was very good. Chain letters are of course just superstition. I personally have never received one in the mail, but as far as chain e-mails, I've certainly received a few. Very annoying. Now adays we have chain YouTube comments or Facebook posts. The chain just never dies. And that scene where Jill punches Tim is good to watch any time you think Tim is being a jerk, just go back and see him get socked in the chops. Sure, Jill and Karen thought it was funny, but let's say the glove were on the other hand and Tim punched Jill. They wouldn't think that was so funny then. In fact, Tim would be perceived as a wife-beater, feminists would call him the Anti-Christ, or something worse. It's a double standard. It's apparently funny when a woman punches a man, but if a man punches a woman, uh-uh. He's an abuser. As if Jill doesn't already abuse Tim enough as it is. But anyway, I definitely recommend this episode. It's funny, has a good message, and of course, it's got George Foreman, creator of the grill of the same name.

A Night in the Gutter., 10 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tool Time features a little drywall hanging competition between Tim and Al, and I don't think I need to say who won. At home, Tim bares the brunt of the boys' practical jokes, handcuffing him to a table and a few cans of silly string aimed at his head. Tonight is family night, but the family can't seem to agree about what activity to partake. The boys want to play video games, Jill suggests they stay home and play charades, and Tim suggests they go bowling. The arcade at the bowling alley wins the boys over, and Jill agrees to go to the lanes, provided Tim doesn't act like the competitive nut he becomes whenever he bowls a good game. She says they should not keep score and just play for "fun". Tim finds that prospect hysterical and goes on to state that men are better bowlers than women, and Jill is a lousy bowler herself. Something tells me he's stirring up some karma here. Once at the alley, they load Brad and Randy up with quarters and send them to the video arcade, while Mark watches Tim and Jill bowl. The Tool Man seemed plenty confident in himself...maybe overconfident. His first frame really blows chips. Jill, on the other hand, bowls a strike...or two. Despite her earlier objections to keeping score and being competitive, the spark of competition begins to glow hot. At least Tim's got a cheering section in the form of the K&B boys, Rock, Pete, Dwayne and Roger, to grate on his nerves even further. Well, the good news is that Tim bowls a strike. The bad news is that it was for the other lane.

Meanwhile, Brad and Randy about to play a game of Zaxxon, some little craphead gets bored and decides to bully them away from "his" machine. They decide to ignore him and go ahead and play anyway. Randy is just about to hit the high score and beat the record, which just happened to belong to that no-account bully, nicknamed C.P. Well, old C.P. couldn't stand the prospect of an underling beating his score, and thusly pulls the plug. Hey, genius, when you unplug an arcade game you delete all the scores. But I doubt his feeble brain could even grasp that concept. So Brad tries to tackle C.P., but since he was bigger, he held Brad in a headlock. He forces Randy to compliment his skill at both Zaxxon AND his looks, and let's Brad go. Anyone else would've just given up and left, but you know what they say about little boys: they don't get mad, they get even. Well actually, they do both. They head back to the lanes to get Mark, while Jill continues her winning streak, making Tim look quite the fool. What is her secret, you may be wondering? Her approach to the lane is as follows: ashes, ashes, we all fall down, and when she launches the ball, she skips backwards chanting "please" profusely. Feeling as cocky as she was, she suggests a bet. Tim agrees, saying whoever loses has to kiss the winner's bowling shoes right in front of everybody... I think you all know who that's going to be. Back at the arcade, C.P. catches Brad and Randy back at the Zaxxon machine, and then they spring their trap: they handcuff him to the machine and cover him in silly string. Victory never tasted sweeter. As for Tim and Jill, Tim manages to bowl a strike in his own lane... and it's a foul. So, as the K&B boys gleefully point out, Jill wins by default. And in lieu of kissing her bowling shoes, Tim simply had to compliment them. Just then, a damn alley employee actually showed up at the arcade, apparently, but apprehended Brad and Randy. Where was he when C.P. was bullying them? He asks Tim and Jill if they're their kids, they hear about what happened and they disown them. When they all get home, Jill tells them that next time they should just come to them if there's a problem. Well, eventually in life there will be instances where you can't run to your mommy for help. Tim and Jill then cap off the night by spraying each other with silly string.

This episode was a lot of fun, it had plenty of funny moments, and a GREAT payback scene between the boys and that airheaded bully. And when he unplugged the machine, he was only hurting himself. Remember, unplugging those old machines will reset all the scores. It reminds me of the Frogger episode of Seinfeld where George buys an old Frogger machine to keep his high score. And as for Brad and Randy's silly string payback, sure, they made a big mess in the arcade, but at least they stood up for themselves. And again, where was that employee when that kid was bullying them? Off choking his chicken or something? And while I always enjoy appearances from the K&B boys, they were very annoying in this one. It was as if they were TRYING to make Tim lose, instantly taking Jill's side and goading him the way they were. Jill was annoying too. You may have also noticed that Wilson wasn't in this episode. I guess he doesn't bowl, but then at this point in the series, he didn't leave his yard, and there are only so many ways to hide one's face at a bowling alley. So anyway, if you like bowling episodes, you like stories about sweet revenge, then Up Your Alley is up your alley!

His and Hers., 9 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tim has just had himself a very prosperous trip to the hardware store, having bought a bunch of bare essentials for the garage, a toy drill for Mark, and a Binford reciprocating saw for himself. Speaking of prosperous, Brad has found himself a little girl friend, Jennifer Sadarsky, who has invited him to her parents' country club for their anniversary. And speaking of new female friends, Jill's got one: Karen Kelly, friend to Jill and new enemy for Tim. One of those new-age feminists who think men are always wrong in what they say or do. Did I mention she's also single? Right away, she implies Tim bought himself a great big reciprocating saw to compensate, and then she goes on to say men focus on their tools so much because they're insecure. Tim disputes this on Tool Time the next day, saying men who obsess over tools are not insecure or destructive, they're creative. After he vents, it's back to the project: gluing laminate onto a table. Al attempts to remind him to be careful about using this fast-bonding glue and Tim shames him for having such negative thoughts. Well, with the glue spread out on the table, Tim prepares to lay the laminate, but accidentally knocks the stoppers onto the floor. He leans over to retrieve them...and aptly gets his head glued to the table.

At home, Jill and Karen decide to take it easy on Tim when he comes home, but such plans go south when he walks through the door with a piece of table glued to his head. They all have a good laugh at his expense, and Karen begins the old feminist debates again, this time about how men seem to have all the jobs and women have to fight to stay afloat, then he poses Tim with the question of, if Jill got a high- paying executive job in Seattle, would they move? Or, if Tool Time went national and they had to move to New York, would they? Tim refused to answer, but his feelings were pretty much made clear. He rips the table piece off his head, which must have hurt like hell. Meanwhile, Brad is having second thoughts about going to Jennifer's party, because he has to dance. You know, "old people" dancing. Jill happily steps in to teach him, and as reluctant as he was to be dancing with his mother, he gets the hang of it pretty fast. He'll wow all those snobs at the country club. As for Tim, he has a talk with Wilson, still angry that Karen blames him for all the "trouble" men have caused in the world, and in response, Wilson tells him of the days when we had a matriarchal society, where women ruled the earth, and it was no more peaceful than it is today. Absolute power corrupts, regardless of gender. He hopes someday man and woman will be able to coexist peacefully. Well, you'll know when that day comes because pigs will be flying. That night, Jennifer comes over to pick up Brad. She makes a very good impression, even adding that her father loves Tool Time. He likes Al. In response, Tim screams for Brad to get downstairs, only Randy comes down to inform him that Brad's tie is stuck in his zipper. Tim comes to his rescue and gives his boy a pep talk to sooth his worries about possibly making an ass of himself. Brad and Jennifer were both a little nervous, and it didn't help that Randy acted like a jerk, but they went off together, to little man's big night. Then Tim and Jill have themselves a little dance, each taking turns leading. We end on Tim breaking an ancient Chinese changing curtain, because... uh, the sun is hot.

Jill's friend Karen will unfortunately be sticking around until the end of Season 2. Though I will admit, annoying and vindictive as she is, at least she manages to balance things out and show that not everybody thinks highly of Tim and there are some people who are willing to try and take him down a peg. This is the infamous head-glued-to-a-table episode that you've no doubt seen dozens of clips of. We also meet Jennifer Sadarsky, Brad's girlfriend up until Season 3. He'll be going to absurd lengths to impress her in the shows to come. So, if you want to see Tim glue a table to his head, as well as see little Bradley go out on his first date, then I recommend Forever Jung. Not much else I can say about it. It's humorous and has a great message.

Dirty Dancing., 9 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tim is about to fall for one of the oldest tricks in the book and he doesn't even know it... because he's asleep. Brad, Randy and Mark are making sure their dad will look quite the fool when he wakes up. Got his shoelaces tied together, his pants undone and a nice big lump of shaving cream in his hand. They tickle his nose with a feather, and then stand back as the magic happens. A foam-faced Tim staggers after the boys, and Jill takes a photograph. After things settle down, Jill asks Tim if he knows what big day is coming up, and he rightly guesses their anniversary. He never forgets their anniversary... just what day it's on. Since Jill is so hard to shop for, and she acknowledges this, she's decided to cut Tim a break by telling exactly what she wants and where it is. All he has to do is go get it. But out of curiosity, Tim wants to know what Jill got him. He bribes the boys to tell him where it's hidden. She got him an official steering wheel off of Mario Andretti's race car. It's just what he always wanted! So now Tim's gotta think of something to top that...and then it hits him: ballroom dancing lessons. Unfortunately, the only dance steps Tim knows is disco, and he wasn't really very good at that either. So, as you may have guessed, Tim blows chips at their first lesson. Jill, on the other hand, was a natural. The instructor then decides to change things up by having Jill dance with another guy, as she herself dances with Tim, trying a little role playing, taking him back to 1957. That seemed to go alright until the instructor told Tim to spin her, and he does...right into the piano.

At home, the boys attempt to pull the shaving cream trick on babysitter Al, but unfortunately for them, his reflexes are just a little quicker than those of their father, and he's the one who smears shaving cream in THEIR faces. Then Tim and Jill come home, grumbling about the evening, how Tim hospitalized the instructor and how they're barred from ever going to the dance studio again. Tim also lets it slip about discovering his gift, thus dismaying Jill even more. Anniversary down the crapper...for now. Next day on Tool Time, Tim handles a nail gun, which misfires and hits the cameraman in the leg. What a stooge. After that, a guy comes on to give Tim an award. Dumbass of the Year? Nope. Home Builders Association...for promoting safety. Is this somebody's idea of a joke? Actually, the whole award is for promoting safety by "staging" realistic accidents. Again, is this their idea of a joke? At home, Tim talks to Wilson about the whole dancing faux pas, and he seems to think Tim is just over-thinking it, as one who is always thinking about what his hands and feet are doing does not a good dancer make. That night, Tim and Jill exchange presents, the steering wheel and the sweater Jill told him to get, and then, Tim shows off his newly acquired dance steps. This time he performs much better. To cap off this whole madcap misadventure, Jill attempts the old tablecloth trick, after seeing Tim perform it the night before, and promptly makes a big mess. Moron.

This one certainly had it's moments. It was entertaining watching Tim try to dance, and I guess this episode must have been a gag short of its quota because of the whole "safety award" routine, which was actually NOT funny. It comes right out of nowhere, and it goes nowhere. I guess one of the writers thought Homer Simpson being in charge of safety at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant was funny, considering how accident prone he is, and thought to do something similar on Home Improvement? And the shaving cream prank, I'm sure you've seen that on America's Funniest Home Videos. I did. And the guy who got pranked jumped up and beat up the guy who did it. So anyway, if you're into dancing, if you can't dance or like seeing Tim making an idiot of himself, then Dances with Tools is one to see.

Who's the Real Dummy?, 9 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tim and Jill wake up to a pleasant surprise: the boys made them breakfast. Two covered dishes. Hmm, this sounds like the perfect set up for a prank. Tim suspects as much and while their backs are turned, he switches his dish with Jill's. The boys were way ahead of them, as Jill's dish was scrambled eggs and sausage, and Tim's were springing snakes. When the boys get home from school, Randy announces he's going to be in the talent show, doing ventriloquism. Something he knows very little about, but is sure he can look it up. Tim offers to carve him a dummy for the occasion, and then Jill shows him a compatibility test she acquired for the magazine. It's a test made FOR women BY women. Jill already took the test for Tim and scored him a 98...out of 300. You know, the word "petty" wouldn't touch this woman. On to Tool Time, where Tim and Al use a wood lathe to carve a table leg, as well as baseball bat, which Tim horses around with. Then he grumbles some more about that compatibility test, saying comparing men to household objects is stupid. After the show, he makes up his own little compatibility test for a man to give a woman.

A little tit-for-tat from Tim's quiz gives them both a good laugh, but in the end, he and Jill are not compatible and scores a whopping 88 out of 7,000,000. Take that! Meanwhile, Randy finds ventriloquism to be much more challenging than he originally suspected, practicing on a coat on a coat hanger. Jill attempts to help him, remembering back to her first exposure of ventriloquism on Ed Sullivan as well as Edgar Bergen, two men the boys sadly have never heard of. After that, she and Tim argue about compromises, including the boys. Jill says she wanted all girls but she gave Tim all boys, which is what he wanted, though to be fair, that was actually nature's decision, not her's. So he talks to Wilson about it, wondering how he and Jill managed to stay together so long if they're so different, and Wilson says it has to do with the Yin and the Yang. Opposites attract and such. But before he can solve that little to-do, there is the matter of Randy's ventriloquism act. The boys is doubting himself and ready to give up the ship, until Tim springs his little surprise: a Tim Taylor ventriloquist dummy! Confidence restores, he takes Little Tim upstairs to practice, while Big Tim explains to Jill how he figured out why they're compatible after all: they're just stuck together, they always start anew and they compromise. Tim admits he even likes buying lingerie. After that, Tim practices some more with his dummy doppleganger, and he even made a Jill dummy for Jill. They launch into some schtick, and then they practice a little...French ventriloquism.

Not a very memorable episode, aside from the Tim and Jill dummies. Those things were fantastic. I wonder where they are now. They might have been put on display in some TV museum, maybe the guy who made them kept them, maybe Tim Allen kept them, maybe they were sold to a collector at a charity auction. Who knows? Very good craftsmanship on those dummies. As for that compatibility test, I agree with Tim in how ridiculous those things are. It's not like women need another excuse to complain about their man. And since the advent of the internet, they don't need to take little magazine tests, they can just blurt out their feelings for all to see. Anyway, I'd recommend seeing this episode purely for the dummies, as the rest of it isn't very interesting, it's standard, banal, not very funny, so just skip ahead to the dummies and you'll have a good time. The breakfast gag at the beginning was pretty funny too. Whenever Randy addresses Tim as "Father", you know something's up.

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