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Home Improvement on DVD: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Season 5 Season 6 Season 7 Season 8

"Home Improvement" The Complete Sixth Season DVD Review

Buy Home Improvement: The Complete Sixth Season from Amazon.com Home Improvement: Season Six (1996-97)
Show & DVD Details

Regular Directors: Peter Bonerz, Andrew Tsao, Geoffrey Nelson / Regular Writers: Laurie Gelman, Bruce Ferber, Lloyd Garver, Marley Sims, Elliot Shoenman, Charlie Hauck, Jon Vandergriff, Eric Horsted, Adam England

Regular Cast: Tim Allen (Tim Taylor), Patricia Richardson (Jill Taylor), Earl Hindman (Wilson Wilson), Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Randy Taylor), Zachery Ty Bryan (Brad Taylor), Taran Noah Smith (Mark Taylor), Richard Karn (Al Borland)

Recurring Characters: Debbe Dunning (Heidi Keppert), Blake Clark (Harry), Jim Labriola (Benny Baroni), William O'Leary (Marty Taylor), Sherry Hursey (Ilene Markham), Shirley Prestia (Delores), Courtney Peldon (Lauren), Tammy Lauren (Patty), Carlene Watkins (Linda), Maryedith Burrell (Tracy), Tudi Roche (Carrie), Kristin Clayton (Angela), Jarrad Paul (Jason), Vasili Bogazianos (Antonio)

Notable Guest Stars: Charlie Robinson (Bud Harper), Jim Jansen (Dr. Emory), Sherman Howard (Howard), Lucille Treganowan (Herself), Al Fann (Felix Myman), Larry Hankin (Larry), Tom Poston (Ned), Patrick Cronin (Sparky); Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Jack Arute (Themselves); Mitch Rouse (Rob), Caroline Keenan (Holly), Bonnie Bartlett (Lucille), Thom Sharpe (Jeff Taylor), Leslie Bibb (Lisa), Jim Pirri (Greg), Andrea C. Robinson (Saleswoman), Mike Starr (Officer Hill), Rick Lenz (Dr. Matthews), Wesley Mann (A.J. Sanders); Al Jardine, Matt Jardine, Bruce Johnston, Mike Love, Carl Wilson (The Beach Boys - Themselves); Harry Groener (Fred), Craig Richard Nelson (Bjorn), Gretchen German (June Palmer), Drew Carey (Seymour Wonderfleffin), Anne Francis (Liddy Talbot), Janeane Garofalo (Tina), Keith Lehman (Cal Borland), David DeLuise (Dennis), George Delhoyo (Doug); Al Unser, Sr., Al Unser, Jr., Al Richard Unser (Themselves); Marcelo Tubert (Dr. Knell), Loryn Locklin (Robin), Polly Holliday (Lillian Patterson), Pamela Lee (Lisa)

Running Time: 561 Minutes (25 episodes) / Rating: TV-PG
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Closed Captioned
Season 6 Airdates: September 17, 1996 - May 20, 1997
DVD Release Date: May 15, 2007; Clear Keepcase with cardboard slipcover
Suggested Retail Price: $23.99; Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9)

Buy Season 6 from Amazon.com / Buy The Complete Series Collection

Page 1: Show and Season 6 Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

Al has second thoughts about marrying Ilene (Sherry Hursey) in "Something Old, Something Blue." Brad needs his brothers' help in "My Son, The Driver." Tim escapes from the hospital to break Bob Vila's record in "Insult to Injury."

Disc 3

18. Something Old, Something Blue (22:38) (Originally aired February 25, 1997)
In the hours leading up to Al and Ilene's wedding, he starts to second-guess entering into holy matrimony.

19. Communication Breakdown (22:21) (Originally aired March 11, 1997)
To deal with the Taylors' oft tied-up phone dilemma, Tim hires Harry's son Dennis (David DeLuise) to install a second line. Along the way, father-son arguments break out between Tim and Mark and Harry and Dennis.

20. My Son, The Driver (22:36) (Originally aired April 1, 1997)
Brad gets his driver's license and Jill is highly worried about his first night on the road. Her instincts prove right when Brad gets into an accident. Three generations of Al Unsers appear on "Tool Time" for Engine Week.

21. Insult to Injury (22:25) (Originally aired April 15, 1997)
The day before breaking Bob Vila's record for consecutive appearances on a home renovation show, Tim separates his shoulder. Tim sneaks out of the hospital to show up on "Tool Time" and seize his glory, while Mark fears he'll miss the Blue Angels air show they were supposed to attend.

In "Family Un-Ties", Jill gets left all alone in the hotel while Tim's at the expo and the kids have fun. "Kiss my grits" is not what Polly Holliday says to her daughter in "Taps." Pamela (Anderson) Lee returns to "Tool Time" in "The Kiss and the Kiss-Off."

22. Family Un-Ties (22:39) (Originally aired April 29, 1997)
Jill is disappointed when the kids don't want to spend time with her during the family's trip to Cleveland. At the hardware expo they're there for, Tim and the "Tool Time" crew finds a demand for destruction.

23. The Feminine Mistake (22:05) (Originally aired May 6, 1997)
Even if you didn't catch this episode when it first aired, you can likely deduce from all the 3-D talk and visual gimmickry that it was partially presented in 3-D. This original broadcast feature is not carried over here, making the 3-D "Tool Time" episode underwhelming and excessively silly. The "A" plot revolves around Jill objecting to Brad's girlfriend doing his laundry and chores for him.

24. Taps (22:30) (Originally aired May 13, 1997)
The day after lying to her parents so they won't visit and she can have a relaxing weekend to her self, Jill learns her father has died of a heart attack. The turn of events is understandably difficult for her to take.

25. The Kiss and The Kiss-Off (22:38) (Originally aired May 20, 1997)
Original "Tool Time" girl Lisa (Pamela Anderson) returns and after Tim prominently features her on the show, overlooked Heidi quits. Randy goes on his first date with Lauren.

Tim relays a plan to Brad (ZTB) and Randy (JTT) in "Communication Breakdown." Tim's the only one treated to 3-D glasses, making "The Feminine Mistake" a lot less enjoyable an episode.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The past five seasons of "Home Improvement" have all come to DVD as fine picture quality as anyone could hope for and expect. This season set continues that trend, but only on selected episodes. Strangely, eleven episodes look less than great, displaying the blurry, video-esque appearance of cheap digital video sitcoms rather than the show's usual look. In these affected episodes ("Jill and Her Sisters", "The Tool Man Delivers", "I Was a Teenage Taylor", "The Wood, the Bad and the Hungry", "Workin' Man Blues", "The Flirting Game", "Totally Tool Time", "Wilson's World", "Insult to Injury", "Taps", and "The Kiss and the Kiss Off"), motion is blurry, and the picture is not as sharp as it should be. Now, you might think there's a logical explanation for this like "The show switched to digital video for the last 11 episodes of the season." But these episodes are not consecutive, they're spread out. And my vivid, ten-year-old memories of this season tell me this isn't how they looked in the original airings and not how they look in syndication. I'm not sure what is to account for this anomaly, because I have a hard time imagining that the studio used an alternate source for 40% of the season and a hard time figuring out what, if not the original camera technology, could yield such distinct differences. Even those who pay no attention to video should be able to notice the differences, though I imagine most viewers won't care. Still, as a critic and as a fan, this odd presentation quirk affecting nearly half the season is noticeable and slightly disconcerting.

There's not much to say about the soundtrack. It is still just two-channel stereo, with the usual mix of dialogue, hearty audience laughter, Dan Foliart score, and the rare sound effect. The Dolby 2.0 track feels a little lackluster, and I noticed some hiss in a few places. For the most part, however, it is sufficient.

Mario Andretti (with son Michael) can't keep his hands off his turkey in the blooper reel. Nope, it's not a bonus feature. It's just Tim and two of his brothers (Thom Sharpe, William O'Leary) in the episode "No Place Like Home."

BONUS FEATURES

For the third season in a row, the only bonus is a blooper reel. This year's runs 6 minutes and 35 seconds and is composed almost entirely of outtakes that weren't featured in episode end credits.
Most prominently seen are Mario Andretti snacking on the turkey he's to carve in his Thanksgiving "Tool Time" appearance and Tim Allen and Patricia Richardson's banter over botched lines and missed beats. Like just about any DVD blooper compilation, this one is entertaining and fans of the series probably gobble this up, based on how it was a trademark conclusion to most episodes.

It's unfortunate that "The Feminine Mistake", the episode which first aired ten years ago from this week as part of ABC's 3-D Week, is not presented in its original 3-D broadcast version. I can't say I'm surprised that it's offered, as it is in syndication, sans 3-D effects. But any other studio would have seized the opportunity to provide both versions, a set of cheap red/blue 3-D glasses (which were available for free from Wendy's ten Mays ago), and something exciting to list on the back of the case. When the '90s NBC sitcom "3rd Rock from the Sun" saw its second season come to DVD in 2005, tiny studio Anchor Bay made sure to include 3-D glasses and a 3-D presentation. There's little reason Disney, with all its resources, couldn't have done the same here.

I regret to have to emphasize yet again how disappointing it is that more extras haven't been included. With just two seasons remaining, it's already much too late for Disney to fully satisfy fans buying these DVDs. But with all the material ripe for supplemental inclusion, from promos and press content to existing specials on the show/its stars made by E!, A&E, etc., it's plain ridiculous that no effort has been made to provide customers with anything more than 6 minutes of outtakes or mere season highlights. Not to mention the fact that Tim Allen has worked on eight films at Disney this decade alone and could easily be asked to record a few commentaries or a short interview.

At the very least, the 2003 retrospective special "Tim Allen Presents: A User's Guide to 'Home Improvement'" and the extended VHS-issued presentation of the three-part series finale and "Backstage Pass" should show up on the last two sets; their exclusion would be inexcusable. Though, based on the new low list price, it seems quite possible those last two seasons won't come with many bells and whistles.

Disc 1 begins with previews for The Jungle Book: Platinum Edition, "Scrubs": The Complete Fifth Season, and Bridge to Terabithia. The disc's Sneak Peeks menu holds additional promos for "Desperate Housewives" on ABC and "Kyle XY": The Complete First Season - Declassified.

This Main Menu should seem familiar; it's near-identical to those found on Seasons 4 and 5. Episode Selection produces more deja vu.

MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

With the decrease in list price comes a change in packaging.
Season 6 arrives in a clear standard-width keepcase which divides the three discs among the two sides. The season-specific producer's note (by Bruce Ferber) is relegated to the inside of the case, where it is hidden by Disc 1 and its placeholder. The first platter is itself covered by a four-page booklet that promotes "Kyle XY", The Santa Clause 3, other "Home Improvement" seasons, and more Buena Vista TV series on DVD. An unnumbered episode list (just titles, as usual) is only visible when Discs 2 and 3 are taken out. The keepcase is housed in a basic cardboard slipcover which duplicates all the same artwork.

Further cost-cutting is again evident in the menus, which are merely repeated from earlier seasons, maintaining a blueprint motif with stretches of the theme song accompanying the selection screens, of which only the Main Menu is animated.

At least the episodes are still divided into chapter stops at commercial break openings, allowing quick scene access.

Tim dances while playing his monkey game on the computer. Jill and Mark try to figure out shake n' bake chicken together.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The tremendously entertaining '90s family sitcom "Home Improvement" once again receives very plain DVD treatment, with the release of its Complete Sixth Season. While these episodes hold up as the last run of the show at its very best, the lack of bonus features still disappoints. At least the supplemental slighting is easier to take at the much lower price it arrives at. If embraced, perhaps this format can pave the way for other unreleased shows to come to DVD in a similarly simple fashion, which while not ideal, will at least serve currently-neglected fans.

This set merits a recommendation for "Home Improvement" enthusiasts. With the low asking rate, even mild fans can now collect the show and treasure it on their own schedule.

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Home Improvement on DVD: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Season 5 Season 6 Season 7 Season 8

Page 1: Show and Season 6 Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed May 12, 2007.