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TV REVIEW : 'Home' Hits Nail on the Head

THE NEW SEASON. One in a series

September 17, 1991|HOWARD ROSENBERG

"Home Improvement" is that rare new comedy series that gives you a rush. And as an obsessed handyman who seeks to "reclaim the male spirit" by worshiping the "tool gods," stand-up comic Tim Allen is a human drill boring a hole in usually impenetrable prime time.

Premiering at 8:30 tonight on ABC (Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42), "Home Improvement" introduces us to Tim Taylor (Allen), the swaggering, confident host of the cable TV show "Tool Time." But his fix-it forays on the home front make life an adventure for his wife, Jill (Patricia Richardson), and their three sons.

Nourished by clever writing, the comic delivery of Allen and the earthy freshness of Richardson, "Home Improvement" is funny enough in spots to make you laugh out loud. Taylor sees in every piece of equipment he owns a machine that needs "more power!" Getting that gleam in his eye tonight, he rewires the dishwasher and it explodes. Next week he refits his rider mower, giving it enough juice for the Indy 500. That turns out to be less disastrous than the disappearance of his pet wrench.

Taylor may be TV's first tool fondler. "You don't ever look at me like that," his wife complains. "I would," he replies, "if you were two speeds and reversible."

The Taylors have a next-door neighbor named Wilson (Earl Hindman), a vague backyard philosopher who converses at eye level over his fence. It's the only element of "Home Improvement" that seems contrived. Everything else flows easily and naturally, including Taylor's paternalistic handyman chats with his youngest son, Mark (Taran Smith). Wisdom from a father: "Grease is our friend."

Just how long "Home Improvement" can sustain destroying an appliance a week remains to be seen. As for now, though, not much needs fixing.

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