I had a day off of school so they could do some testing on the students. So I obviously took full advantage and used my extra day in the best way possible, by watching reruns of Home Improvement. I really didn’t mean to. Tim Allen reminds me of my dad, so I turned it on for background noise and next thing I know I’m five episodes deep in grunts and mild destruction.
I’ve talked before about the show within the show, “Tool Time,” and I’m still intrigued by it. Do Tim and Al have rehearsals? How much of it is improvised because Al is always surprised by something Tim is about to do. How many people are upset because they thought they would learn some handyman shit and instead get this buffoon? Or is the real intrigue of the show to see this doof screw up? I really want an in-depth look at “Tool Time” behind the scenes.
But I want to put that aside for now because something else caught my attention this time. This was really your basic family sitcom that focused much of its attention on men versus women. Weird kind of sexist jokes that are probably being laughed at for the wrong reasons. Not here to discuss and debate if or why something is funny and the intended humor. That’s a whole different and more boring essay. Ultimately the show is kind of bland, especially compared with most television these days.
But more than the out-dated jokes, this time around I found myself thinking about the talks Tim has with Wilson. The sage like neighbor with a deft of eccentric knowledge that he could always bring up and relate to whatever problem Tim seemed to be having that particular week. In itself it’s not that weird. This kindly older man who has traveled and learned a bunch and is willing to share it. Classic story telling trope. What I found interesting was thinking about it not in terms of the show and Wilson the wise man, but rather as a product from the minds of sitcom writers.
I just picture this writer’s room with some dorky writer guys making these stupid power tool jokes, and trying to figure out what way they can hurt or embarrass Tim, then having to switch gears and start talking about some ancient group of people and how they did things. It’s this deep knowledge you don’t expect to come from people writing a family sitcom. It’s almost as if someone on staff has a degree in history and found a way to use it. Instead of teaching, or museum curating, you can write sitcoms. That’s some advice for those unsure of how to use your degree. There’s always sitcom writing.
Or it’s all mostly bullshit and the brilliant acting of Earl Hindman made it all seem legit. Say anything with the right confidence and you can convince people it’s true. Either option has me appreciating the writers of Home Improvement more than I thought I ever would.
But I still expect them to tell me more about “Tool Time.”