Category: Tim Allen

'Last Man Standing' proves Tim Allen is still a TV star

Tim Allen of "Last Man Standing."

Tim Allen returned to network sitcom-land Tuesday night, and the numbers show just why the former "Home Improvement" guy remains a family-friendly TV star.

The critics pretty much detested "Last Man Standing," which finds Allen as a cranky, middle-aged dad of three daughters who just can't understand these kids today. The show earned a score of 32 out of 100 from Metascore, a critics' compilation site -- the type of result usually reserved for dreck such as the CW's just-canceled reality-show atrocity "H8R." 

Viewers showed up anyway. "Last Man" averaged a respectable 13 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. That was good enough for a strong second behind CBS' monster hit "NCIS" (18.6 million), which presumably draws on many of the same mid-American viewers.

In the crucial adults aged 18-to-49 demographic, "Last Man" drew a solid 3.5 rating ("NCIS" logged a 3.9). And the audience grew over the show's one-hour premiere special. Overall, it was the best debut for an 8 p.m. comedy anywhere on network TV in the last seven years.

So the critics can carp all they want, but thanks to Allen, it looks like we're a long way from seeing the last of "Last Man."

What did you think of Tim Allen's new show?


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Photo: On "Last Man Standing," Tim Allen tries to get to the bottom of this Internet thing. Credit: Randy Holmes / ABC.

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

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.


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