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'Home Improvement' reunion on 'Last Man Standing': A perfect tribute to the '90s sitcom

Season 4 | Episode 12 | “Helen Potts” | Aired Jan 9, 2015

Nothing could be better than watching the Home Improvement gang get back together on this week’s episode of Last Man Standing! Patricia Richardson guest-starred tonight, playing the neighbor of Tim Allen’s character Mike Baxter.

From the onset of the episode they were bickering like an old married couple. Richardson’s character, Helen Potts, made so many references to her former husband mucking around the house with tools, it’s as if she was married to Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor herself.

If Helen’s references to her fix-it-man husband aren’t enough, friendly neighbor Chuck Larabee wears a fishing hat throughout the episode. He even peeks over his fence to say “hidey-ho, neighbor” to Mike Baxter, spouting wisdom about reconciliation and the Aztecs. Larabee was obviously paying tribute to Home Improvement neighbor Wilson Wilson Jr., Tim Taylor’s longtime neighbor and friend. This was a touching tribute as the actor who played Wilson, Earl Hindman, passed away in 2003.

Chuck Larabee Wilson Neighbor Last Man Standing Home Improvement Reunion

Outside of the Home Improvement references, Eve was learning about the Vietnam War. Ed Alzate agrees to do an interview with Eve, but doesn’t have a lot of firsthand information to offer her—he never saw action in the field. Ed worked in an office during the war. Eve doesn’t consider that heroic enough for her school report and decides not to feature Ed.

Mike encourages her to go down to the VFW. There she finds out that Mr. Alzate has been helping veterans receive their health benefits for the last 30 years. While he may not have dropped bombs or fought in the literal sense of the word, he serves his countrymen in a powerful way. Eve decides this is an act of profound heroism and chooses to write about Ed.

By the end of the episode, Mike and Helen have become friends. Their neighborly feud is over, and Mike wants to help Helen finish renovating her home. As Mike and Helen are crossing into her yard, a familiar face appears through the gate: Jonathan Taylor Thomas! A Home Improvement reunion would not have been complete without a visit from JTT, who has appeared in and directed a few other episodes of Last Man Standing.

Between the nods to Helen’s husband, the fun Tool Time transitions between scenes, and Chuck Larabee pretending to be Wilson, this was a perfect reunion episode. It’s always wonderful seeing casts reunite on screen—especially a cast like Home Improvement. The Taylors, Tool Time, and Wilson were a part of our lives (as Patricia said in the episode) for eight long years. That’s 204 episodes that spanned the entire decade of the ’90s, from 1991 to 1999. I hope we get to see each member of the cast make an appearance on the show at some point. (Here’s lookin’ at you, Zachery Ty Bryan and Taran Noah Smith.)

Fun fact: Entertainment Weekly brought the cast back together in 2011 for a reunion issue. This was the first time the entire cast had been together since the series finale in 1999.

Home Improvement reunion photo EW

Last Man Standing airs Fridays 8/7C on ABC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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