Home Improvement: Twas the Blight Before Christmas

his3-28Mark is signing The First Noel at church. He and the other kids have to wear robes with letters that spell out N-O-E-L. Mark is the N and he thinks his robe “looks geeky.” Meanwhile, Brad wants to skip-out on Christmas with his family, so he can go skiing with a friend from school. (Brad was always the shittiest kid in this family).

When it’s time to go to church and see Mark sing on Christmas Eve, Brad is too busy sulking to come along just because his mom wants “the whole stupid family” to spend Christmas together. (Literally. The shittiest.)

The family leaves Brad at home, rather than forcing him to come along and have him throw a fit all night. When Tim comes home to check on him, he finds Brad trying to sneak out of the house with his skis. He doesn’t want to miss out on the trip because there will be a lot of people there that he wants to hang out with.

hqdefault1
Clearly JTT is the good son in this family.

“Christmas is not about being with people you like. It’s about being with your family,” words of wisdom from Tim, the Tool Man, Taylor. But then things get real. Tim tells Brad that he’s not going to be a kid forever. One day he’ll have his own family and never make it home for Christmas, just like Tim and Jill never spend Christmas with their parents. Plus, Tim’s days are numbered since he lives dangerously on the set of Tool Time.

So finally it’s time for Mark’s big debut as the N. But the kids line up backwards, so it looks like they’re singing about some guy named Leon. Oh hey and do you recognize the kid playing the L? It’s Michelle Tanner’s friend Derek from Full House! Of course, Brad shows up mid-song and it’s a joyous occasion.

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-11-16-15-pm

Very Special Holiday Lesson: Don’t ditch your family on Christmas, even if there’s a cool trip involved.

Home Improvement: Home for the Holidays

Randy comes home from Costa Rica for Christmas and is immediately pissed that things at the Taylor house haven’t stayed exactly the same since he left.

hqdefault1

He buys his whole family a protected tree in the Costa Rican rainforest, but Tim is more excited about the cool lights that Brad and Mark got him for the roof. It’s an admirable gift, Randy.

hqdefault3

But you shouldn’t have been surprised that your dad was more into Christmas lights. He’s been waging a full-out war with Doc Johnson next door for at least seven years. And this year he’s taking on Al. So…

hqdefault2

Then Randy speaks some Spanish with Wilson and that’s pretty cool. I can’t figure out if my Spanish is just that rusty or if his accent sucks, but I admire the effort. Randy is so short that he has to stand on the bottom rung of the fence to talk to Wilson lol.

his2-32

So Randy deals with the fact that things have changed without him and Jill admits that she and Tim should have made more of an effort to spend time with him. I mean he did come all the way from Costa Rica.

Also, Al defeats Tim in the holiday lighting contest. I think Al needed this win.

Very Special Lesson: This show sucked without JTT. Why did they even do a final season without him???

Home Improvement: The Wood, the Bad and the Hungry

Even though last I said that Cheers had the best Thanksgiving episode ever, I think this is probably the best Thanksgiving episode ever. And I wasn’t lying last year. I just didn’t know this episode existed. But now I do. And now I think it’s the best.

mv5bnzg1odm0nju0nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmzg2ntcynte-_v1_

So there’s actually not a lot going on in this episode. Tim is having all of his friends and family over to his house for Thanksgiving, but he choses not to invite this one really annoying guy. But then he sees him at the soup kitchen, where Randy is volunteering. He’s kind of disturbed by the whole event, so he does what any good, stressed human would do. He falls asleep. And this is what he dreams:

As it turns out, this dude isn’t actually down on his luck. He just goes to the soup kitchen because he thinks the soup is tasty and “pays for it” with his “tax dollars.” So really, he’s a total turd. But Tim’s learned from his claymation dreams and decides that even total turds deserve a friendly meal on Thanksgiving.

Very Special Thanksgiving Lesson: “Even the lowliest creature needs a friend.”

Home Improvement: I Was a Teenage Taylor

Halloween is a BIG deal to the Taylor family. Tim and Al prank each other on Tool Time and the Taylors prank each other around the house. Basically, they all have to spend the entire month of October looking over their shoulders.

After Randy and Brad freak their mom out by preparing dinner a.k.a. a gory-severed head (not real, don’t worry), some creepy man shows up at the door. He hints at an awful incident that happened when he lived in the house and wants to see “the basement,” which is now Randy’s room. Brad thinks it’s just their parents trying to get even with them, but Randy is not so sure.

They decide to talk to Wilson. If Wilson knows about “the incident” then it’s true. If he does not, then their parents are playing them. While Randy and Brad are walking over to Wilson’s, Jill and Tim pay off the creepy man. It turns out that Brad and Randy have been picking on Mark AGAIN and they’re enacting revenge.

Wilson plays along and gives them this awful story about how the creepy man was long-ago suspected of killing his brother, Ezekiel. However, it’s also possible that Ezekiel simply ran away. Either way, the creepy dude was locked away in a mental institution. Wilson hints that he should still be there but Randy and Brad tell him that he’s out and trying to get a look at their basement.

Wilson even has a fake newspaper article from the “time of the incident,” suggesting that Ezekial is buried in the basement. But Al shows up at the Taylor home and sees the boys reading the newspaper. Al’s never in on any of the secrets, so he innocently identifies Larry (aka Creepy man) as “your dad’s Halloween guy,” having met him earlier at Tool Time.

So now Brad and Randy are in the revenge business, and they want to bring Al into the fold. With Al on their time, Brady and Randy start weaving a web of intricate lies. Al goes to Jill and Tim “concerned” that Randy is now terrified of the basement. In the  meantime, Brad is trying to make Randy look like he’s crying by squirting Visine in his eyes. In the process, he pokes him in the eye with the bottle, so the tears quickly become real.

Brad and Randy have their parents exactly where they want them, until Al accidentally refers to the creepy man as “Larry.” So they all decide to call a truce. Jill and Tim head to a Halloween party while Randy and Brad hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. Randy opens the door to two kids dressed as Buzz Lightyear and Simba and he gives one candy bar to the “space-man” and seven to the “cute little lion” because Lion King!!!

Then Larry shows up at the house again and he’s pissed because Jill & Tim didn’t pay him the full amount for his services. He looks like he’s ready to destroy Brad and Randy over $100 that they don’t have, so they head up to the attack to look for their parents secret money stash. (But he’s playing them again.)

Jill and Tim have basically turned the attic into a haunted house. Just when Randy and Brad start to get really jumpy, Jill/Tim/Mark reveals themselves as the ultimate prank victors. And Larry walks up the attic stairs to let the boys know he wasn’t really plotting to shake them down for $100.Then Al gets them back by trapping them all in the attic. Good for Al. Al needed a win.

Halloween Lesson: The family that pranks together stays together. (Unless you’re a Brady. Then that shit is strictly forbidden.)

Home Improvement: The Longest Day

This episode scares the crap out of me because JTT has to get a cancer test after his mom tells the doctor that he’s been so sleepy. And the doctor felt swelling in JTT’s neck!

I’m chronically tired and sometimes I have a lump on my neck. But I’m a 25 year-old workaholic, hypochondriac with bad allergies, so I guess we’re not in the same boat.

Anyway, Jill keeps the cancer scare from JTT because she doesn’t want to scare him until they know what they’re dealing with. But they can’t keep it from him. They’re too busy spoiling him and he notices something is up.

And it’s moments like this that remind you that JTT isn’t just charming and skating by on his good looks. He’s actually a talented actor. COME BACK TO US JTT! I’m sure there’s a place for you in one of the 75 reboots currently in the works.

Jill and next-door neighbor Wilson have a really great heart to heart about how quickly things can change in an instant. It’s not sappy at all and is genuinely moving, which means it creeps my emotions out too much to actual comment on it at this point.

Meanwhile, JTT has gone missing. Jill’s still awaiting the phone call from the doctor, while Tim goes out looking for him. He’s at the arcade. That’s probably where I would be too.

He’s pissed that his parents didn’t tell him immediately that he might have cancer. I’d probably be pissed too. It’s awful to discover that while researching it alone at the school library. (Ugh, bad parenting moment, Tim and Jill.) And then they all come together as a family, lovingly and rationally calming their child’s fears.

Okay, the pot episode was stupid. But Home Improvement may have just won The Very Special Episode with the story of how JTT got cancer.

Oh wait. But you didn’t actually think he’d get cancer did you? This is a sitcom, and that’s way too sad of a fate for our favorite 90’s idol. He’s fine! He has hypothyroidism. The end!

Very Special Lesson: Be sure to keep important facts about your children’s health out of their knowledge. That way, when they notice they feel crappy and have been to the doctor for a lot of tests, they can fear the worst without the benefit of your health and guidance.

Home Improvement: What a Drag

Home Improvement was not a show known for high drama or life lessons. It was pretty much a ridiculous (ridiculously hilarious) show about an incompetent handyman and his witty family. But (as you well know) it’s not an 80’s/90’s sitcom without a very special episode.

Can you guess what this episode is about based on the title?

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, this episode is about weed! During an on-location shoot for Tool Time (the show with in a show) Tim scales a tree in his backyard to demonstrate the hazards a blizzard can take on suburban homes. Turns out blizzards also damage trees, and Tim (the incompetent handyman) falls into the rough of his gazebo/all of the wooden lawn furniture.

As Tim and his sidekick, Al, are sifting through the wreckage, Al finds a baggie of “oregano” that he assumes Jill (Tim’s wife) keeps outside in the cold to maintain optimum freshness. Tim tells Al that what he’s holding is a bag of weed, and Al freaks out because his “prints are on the bag.” Naturally, at this point the only thing to do is to stage a stakeout behind next door neighbor Wilson’s fence. Wilson expresses his shock that drugs were found in his very own neighborhood because he has only ever heard about “kids and drugs in the newspaper.” Clearly, Jill and Tim are the only adults in this show who are edgy enough to have any experience with illegal substances. After a Friday night spent in ten degree weather, Jill and Tim finally see their eldest son Brad go into the gazebo to retrieve the pot.

After lecturing Brad on how pot could ruin his whole life, they send him up to his room while they figure out how to deal with them. But Jill is left reeling because Brad accused them of being hypocrites since they probably smoked too when they were his age. Tim is all like no way all I did was drink beer! but Jill is all like omg I smoked so much pot. I should have helped my son learn from my errors. Then Jonathan Taylor Thomas (as middle child Randy) accidentally stumbles onto his parents freaking out. At which point his dad accuses him of smoking too, and JTT is all like “what no way!” and he really means it because JTT is a golden boy and above the influence and funny and the greatest 90’s heartthrob ever.

So then JTT goes upstairs to talk to Brad because he’s shocked that Brad smoked and he didn’t even know it. The Brad is all shocked that JTT has not smoked and JTT is like clearly too intellectual to get high and then have pseudo-intellectual conversations. Then you hardly see JTT anymore for the rest of the episode because you can tell by this point in the show’s run that he’s pretty much over acting and ready to enroll in Harvard.

Finally, Jill and Tim agree that the best way to handle Brad is to come clean about their own experiences (and ground him for months). As it turns out, Jill was a huge pothead in high school. One time she went to a Led Zeppelin concert, smoked some pot laced with something weird, and ended up in the ER thinking that her name was Charlene Fogelman. Personally, I think that sounds horrifying and like a terrible waste of a Led Zeppelin concert. I’m also glad that this stuff is slowly getting legalized, so that people in real life will be able to purchase from reliable (legal) sources that don’t mix PCP into their product. But I digress. After this, Jill ends up in jail and Tim has to bail her out because her parents won’t even speak to her. How lucky is Jill that she was still a minor, right? I don’t even think we could have Home Improvement if Jill had been a mom with a criminal record! It would have been like Orange is the New Improvement. Ultimately, Brad decides that smoking pot is not worth the risk of his soccer scholarship. Well, like no shit it isn’t.

Very Special Lesson: Don’t do anything that will make you think you are Charlene Fogelman. I hear she’s a convicted felon.