Quick Take: Last Man Standing, "Pilot" and "Last Baby Proofing Standing"
A new addition to the ABC comedy library that delivers.
Review: Last Man Standing, "Pilot" and "Last Baby Proofing Standing"
(S0101 & S0102) Tim Allen has returned to the small screen after a 12-year hiatus in Last Man Standing, a comedy that is somewhat similar to Home Improvement, the show that made him famous in the 1990s. I think we can all remember Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor.
But in Last Man Standing, Allen has traded in his three sons for three daughters, and hence the series title. Now, I'll admit that I used to watch Home Improvement, but I never thoroughly enjoyed it. I was always found it a bit dry. I'm happy to say though that Last Man Standing may very well be joining the slew of shows I currently tune in to.
In the pilot episode we meet Mike Baxter (Tim Allen), a guy's guy, his wife Vanessa (Nancy Travis) and their three daughters, Kristin, Mandy and Eve (Alexandra Krosney, Molly Ephraim and Kaitlyn Dever respectively). Each of the daughters has a completely different personality. Kristin is dealing with being a young single mom, while Mandy is total girly girl and Eve is more down the middle and seems to be the one daughter that Mike can relate to the most.
Following Vanessa's promotion at her job and Mike's change of duties at his job -- the company he works for, Outdoor Man, decides to phase out their catalog which means no more magazine shoots in great locations for Mike, but instead he's now in charge of the company's website - he must now take a more active role around the house. Basically deal with the drama and dilemmas of his three daughters. This is definitely an adjustment for them as Mike is much more antiquated when it comes to his parenting style compared to Vanessa's laid back personality. He doles out pretty bad advice to each of his daughters. He actually grounds Mandy because she calls AAA to fix a flat when her boyfriend was unavailable to help her since he was tanning. And when he tells Eve to be aggressive before a soccer scrimmage against the boy’s team she takes it to heart and ends up injuring one of the boys.
All is not lost though, his tough love forces Mandy to learn how to change a tire on her own, that boy that Eve injures ends up asking her out on a date, and Kristin inadvertently gets set-up with Kyle, a coworker of Mike's. Mike actually intended for Kyle to go out with Mandy in hopes that she would lose interest in her tanning and mani/pedi enjoying boyfriend.
In the second episode of the night Mike is at it once again with his version of tough love. After Mandy asks him and Vanessa for money he suggests to her that she gets a job. She's horrified, but, does oblige. Her first job ends up being at a clothing store at the mall and by her lunch break she's asking Mike for a $500 advance to cover the cost of clothes she bought using her employee discount. Anyone who has ever worked in a retail store they enjoy shopping at can relate to this scenario. Mike suggests another job to her, as a pizza delivery person. Of course Vanessa doesn't think this is a good idea since you never really know who you may be delivering to. Mike obviously didn't think this through and decides to follow her in Kyle's van to avoid being spotted. Of course he can't just admit that he was wrong. In the end Mandy proves to be savvier than anyone gave her credit for. She senses someone following her after she delivers a pizza to a house and she ends up macing them, of course it’s Mike.
Meanwhile, Vanessa and Kristin decide to baby proof the house for baby Boyd. Mike is totally opposed to this and believes that bumps, bruises and scar tissue is how we learn not to do things again but no one is hearing him out. I kind of agree with him on that to a certain extent. Once the house is fully baby proofed the adults have some serious issues trying to get into things. Vanessa was hoping for a quiet evening enjoying some wine and television but after failing to unlock the wine cabinet she settles for a grape juice box which she ultimately spills on herself. While in the bathroom she needs to use the toilet but of course there's a lock on that that she cannot undo, so she must settle for the next best thing, Boyd's potty trainer. Needless to say they decide to scale back on the baby proofing.
A humorous aspect to both episodes was Mike's ranting and raving on the Outdoor Man's company blog where he attempts to promote a certain product but always ends up venting his frustrations with his personal problems on there. Hopefully that's an aspect of the show that will continue.
Overall, I enjoyed the show and can definitely see myself watching it in the future. It's a simple comedy that isn't trying too hard to be funny. And yes, while some of the things that Allen's character may say and do will offend some, you have to remember it is all part of the character. In one way or another comedy will always make someone the brunt of a joke. A nice surprise was the casting of Hector Elizondo as Mike's boss Ed. He always seems to show up in the oddest of roles but always adds something special to them.