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Fall TV: How is Tim Allen's 'Last Man Standing' like a hamburger?

September 9, 2011 |  9:01 am

At a recent taping of Tim Allen’s new sitcom, “Last Man Standing” -- which debuts on ABC Oct. 11 -- the mood backstage was especially jovial, the familial camaraderie palpable. There was much hugging, exchanging of kid photos on iPhones, ribbing of one another.

That’s because many of the crew members also worked on Allen’s previous hit, “Home Improvement.”

“I said, anybody who's still alive, call 'em up!” Allen says.

Twelve years after “Home Improvement” went off the air and with a decade-plus of studio films behind him, Allen is reuniting with ABC to “reboot” the small-screen magic.

“Last Man” is directed by John Pasquin, who was the original director on “Home Improvement” and who also directed the first “Santa Clause” movie Allen starred in. Director of photography Donald A. Morgan, who won “Home Improvement” seven Emmys, is also back.

Allen calls the show “comfort food” in that it’s a return to the old-fashioned, if a bit cheesy (pun intended), multi-camera sitcoms shot in front of a live audience. “It’s revisiting hamburgers,” he says.

“Last Man Standing” follows Mike Baxter, a Denver dad who wields hunting and fishing gear at work but must navigate the nuanced world of women at home, where he lives with a strong-willed wife (Nancy Travis) and three daughters. Allen describes the show as “Home Improvement, inside out.” Instead of three boys, it’s three girls; instead of power tools, it’s guns, knives and canoes.

The show's producers seem confident it will appeal "between the coasts." "It's a functional family sitcom, a husband and wife and family that loves each other," says Rick Messina, an executive producer on the show and also one of Allen's managers. "That, alone, separates it from the pack."

Read more of the Fall TV preview profile of Tim Allen here.


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--Deborah Vankin

Photo: Cast of "Last Man Standing," from left: Alexandra Krosney, Hector Elizondo, Nancy Travis, Tim Allen, Kaitlyn Dever, Molly Ephraim. Credit: Craig  Sjodin / ABC.