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Tim Allen's 7 Best And 7 Worst Home Improvement TV Episodes Ranked

As one of America's hit wholesome shows in the '90s, "Home Improvement" had something for everyone. Inspired by Tim Allen's time as a stand-up comic, the show ran for eight seasons on ABC until 1999. Known for its big laughs, bickering, and relatable family drama, Tim Allen quickly became a well-known figure in primetime entertainment. The series helped to shape the careers of stars such as Pamela Anderson, and the show even led to real-life spinoffs, which made it pretty surprising when Allen largely vanished from Hollywood only a few years later. Though the rest of its cast has hardly been heard from since there's still plenty more to "Home Improvement" than meets the eye.

In short 23-minute chunks, "Home Improvement" is endearing, lovable, and incredibly easy to binge. While it has undoubtedly left a legacy as big as its toolshed, the same can't be said for its availability. Even though Tim Allen has slowly made a comeback with shows like "Last Man Standing," his biggest hit still can't be accessed on any major streaming channel. However, thanks to physical copies and the magic of YouTube, "Home Improvement" can be seen in all its glory. Grab your tools and check out the seven best and seven worst episodes of "Home Improvement."

Worst: Mark's Big Break (Season 8, Episode 16)

As one of its final episodes, "Mark's Big Break" was an unfortunate indicator that "Home Improvement" was running out of ideas. Tim has finally finished building his hot rod and is looking for something special to mark the occasion. Mark is on hand to film the car's unveiling but wants to try again after the first attempt feels too boring. In its own setup, "Mark's Big Break" identifies the problem — being too dull. By Season 8, the Taylor kids are all grown up, playing happy families with their own brood of children. It's fun to watch the characters progress over the eight years that the show was on the air, but there is a downside. Family conversations become dull and lengthy, feeling tired while missing out on any kind of excitement.

Mark's genius idea for a new hot rod video is to recreate the famous musical sequence "Greased Lightnin'." Tim's enthusiastic moves and lip-syncing feel out of place with the rest of the show, making the scene cringeworthy to watch. There's very little of the signature choreography of "Greased Lightnin'" on display either, with Tim and Jill simply swaying awkwardly on the backseat of the kitted-out hot rod. It could work as a final scene, but minutes later we're back to more boring action in the lounge. Danny and Sandy, they aren't.

Best: The Long and Winding Road: Part 1 (Season 8, Episode 25)

Change is the only constant and by the end of Season 8 that becomes a good thing for the Taylor family. Figuring out how to deal with the new producer on "Tool Time," Tim's softer side is shown in "The Long and Winding Road: Part 1." However, the whole episode shifts gears when Jill gets a new job in Indiana, which ultimately prompts the entire family to move along with her. It's a smart choice to end the Taylor family's journey on a high, setting them up for greater things off-camera. Jill is finally able to embrace the independence that she's always wanted while the kids rally to support their parents' wishes.

What's most refreshing is the change we see in Tim. As a guy who's been both self-assured and hot-headed, he's never been willing to see issues from another point of view. With a helping hand from Wilson's advice from beyond the garden fence, Tim is able to talk through his feelings for the first time. Quitting his role at "Tool Time," the Taylor family finally has to leave "Home Improvement" behind — but the satisfying character arcs make it all worth it.

Worst: Home Alone (Season 8, Episode 14)

Bringing together two giants in entertainment history should be a recipe for success — until it's not. With a title that references the famous 1990 film of the same name, "Home Alone" propped up the back half of the show's final season, which was noticeably struggling with ideas. While the rest of the Taylor family are away, Tim is inspired to write a book for Binford. Though it seems like a great idea, he's quickly distracted by everything he sees around him, dreaming of the success and fame that might come from his book. In a nutshell, the episode is a total fever dream. Dipping in and out of the classic Taylor residence, Tim's enthusiasm takes him into reality TV, lengthy phone calls, and endless naps on the couch.

A dream sequence in any show is difficult to get right. Even though Tim's eagerness for his new idea is charming, his imagination feels forced and unenjoyable. Many scenes in "Home Alone" feel chaotic and rushed, while others are bland and fade into the background. With no family members to bounce off of, Tim's dreams don't make for enjoyable viewing.

Best: An Older Woman (Season 7, Episode 13)

The female characters of "Home Improvement" are often given a rough ride. So when Brad announces plans to marry a girl in Season 7's "An Older Woman," it's easy for viewers to fear the worst. Only three years apart in age, Samatha is a charming girl with her head in the right place. Instead of seeing her as too independent or predatory, Tim and Jill welcome what she has to say with open ears. Pretty refreshing for a family who loves to argue about the small things.

While the pair are obviously uncomfortable with the idea of their son marrying someone he just met, Jill and Tim remain cool, calm, and collected. Their years of bickering finally pay off as they remain reasonable parents, saving their glee for themselves when Brad changes his mind. That doesn't mean they go without bickering, of course, as they do take marital swipes at the other whenever they can. However, this time it's all in good spirits and ends up helping them reinforce the genuine emotional bond with their eldest son.

Worst: It Was The Best of Tims, It Was The Worst of Tims (Season 3, Episode 20)

With a title that doesn't exactly roll off of the tongue, it's not surprising that "It Was The Best of Tims, It Was The Worst of Tims" doesn't hit the mark. A baby show hits the Taylor family residence, with Tim's ultra-male personality making him hesitant to attend. Although eventually charming to Jill's guests, Jill feels as though Tim's flattery is passing her by, which leads to a night of belching and burping. As gross as it may sound, this side of Tim's character sheds some light on why he wasn't always the good guy on "Home Improvement."

This time, the episode isn't difficult to watch because the action is boring. Instead, Tim's traditional attitude suggests that he might not even like his wife. Jill dreams of love and passion, while Tim is too preoccupied with his own wants and needs. This is far from the first time the couple has been at odds with each other, and it certainly wouldn't be the last. However, "It Was The Best of Tims, It Was The Worst of Tims" is one of the first times we see Tim display an overt lack of interest in the rest of his family — and who wants to watch that?

Best: The Long and Winding Road: Part 2 (Season 8, Episode 26)

The Taylors may have decided to move to Indiana, but what happens next? With such a successful first part, "The Long and Winding Road: Part 2" was destined for good things. Instead of looking forward to the future, Tim and Jill decide to take a look back at the past eight years of their relationship. Where previous clip show style episodes of "Home Improvement" have been too chaotic or unnecessary with their flashbacks, this episode strikes the right balance. Looking at the impact of their decisions, the two are able to understand how they got to where they are, and it's a joy to watch.

If viewers can look past the painfully obvious CGI on display during their long family drives, the episode's content is golden. Tim continues to open up by having a heart-to-heart with each of his sons, while Jill is by his side to support their huge life changes. Seeing glimpses of the kids in their younger days tugs at the heartstrings, and "The Long and Winding Road: Part 2" shows viewers how much the family has grown together. There's even a nod to the importance of Wilson's garden fence knowledge, tinged with sadness as he's left behind.

Worst: Future Shock (Season 6, Episode 2)

When we watch the shows we love, it isn't always easy to imagine what our favorite characters will look like in the future. Season 6's "Future Shock" gives us a look at the Taylor family in their old age — and it isn't a pretty sight. 

When Jill challenges Tim to mix up his morning routine, both daydream about what their lives may look like in the future. The dreams themselves are disturbing and stereotypical, leading both to take it out on the other in real life. One of the ongoing issues in "Home Improvement" is Tim and Jill's fiery relationship, and it isn't surprising to see it extend into their imagination. Not only does dwelling on marriage problems feel like it's been done before, but it doesn't add anything to the show's purpose.

The older Tim makes a nuisance of himself while Jill tries to work, and the elderly Jill seems like she is holding back a dapper-looking Tim. Jill's independence and growing career at a magazine are extremely important, and it's clear that Tim feels threatened by that. "Future Shock" is the type of episode that makes us wonder why the two were ever together in the first place.

Best: The Kiss & the Kiss-Off (Season 6, Episode 25)

Ah, the joys of growing up. It's never an easy ride, but it makes for great TV. Just like its '90s sitcom rivals, "Full House" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," capturing coming-of-age moments is hugely popular in "Home Improvement." Randy goes on his first date in "The Kiss & the Kiss-Off," and the awkward teen romance is a humorous watch. Making plans on the garden swing seat, their double denim and painful small talk is endearing while offering a positive reason to keep watching. The episode's other high point is the return of former series regular Pamela Anderson. Making her TV acting debut in the show's first two seasons, she effortlessly falls back into the "Tool Time" fold.

Not only is it nice to see Pamela Anderson thrive, the dynamics in "The Kiss & the Kiss-Off" are only good vibes. Reminiscing over the good times, the gang is in high spirits — a far cry from family arguments and bad blood. Jill acts as a fantastic voice of reason, while Tim's efforts to get Heidi back on "Tool Time" feel sincere and genuine, as he takes the time to listen to her feelings. As far as the Taylor's go, this episode is a solid outing for them all.

Worst: Tool Time After Dark: Part 2 (Season 4, Episode 23)

Keeping a story simple is a great thing. We know exactly what's happening and can enjoy the action without getting caught up in unnecessary details. "Tool Time After Dark: Part 2" takes that thinking to the extreme.

In the episode, Tim sits at home and watches old tapes of "Tool Time" — and that's it. It's a lazy effort that is amazingly stretched out into a two-parter. Clip shows are dull at the best of times, and even the likes of "The Simpsons" and "The Golden Girls" have missed the mark with their own compilation episodes before. "Tool Time After Dark: Part 2" is a clear season filler and is best avoided.

There could be something interesting in Tim watching himself. Like all intriguing characters, Tim is incredibly flawed and largely unaware of what he needs to change about himself. Instead of making the episode a turning point to round off Season 4, Tim's trip down memory lane only gets him as far as the couch. Did we need to know about Tim's overeating? No. Did the risk pay off? Also no.

Best: Don't Tell Momma (Season 4, Episode 2)

There's one way a TV show can never go wrong — by setting up a catastrophic accident for big laughs. In Season 4's "Don't Tell Momma," Tim's enthusiasm for his new crane leads to him wrecking Jill's car. Knowing he'll be in the dog house, Tim goes to huge lengths to hide the damage he's responsible for. Sneaking around the house and getting the kids to keep his secret, Tim's actions make for successful drama. It's lovely to see the entire family in on the joke and even better to see Jill taking it all in her stride.

Tim's excitement for his new toy means we see a wilder side to him, letting loose and ready to have fun. It's a side of his personality that we rarely see and a welcome alternative to his standard role of annoying dad and husband. However, nothing tops the satisfaction of watching the fallout, with Jill laying into a sheepish Tim while packing in a lot of laughs.

Worst: Slip Sleddin' Away (Season 3 Episode 13)

Spending hilarious quality time with the kids is something shows like "Malcolm In The Middle" always managed to get right. When it comes to the fatherly instincts of Tim Taylor, there's a lot left to be desired. During "Slip Sleddin' Away," after middle child Randy loses a sled race to a neighborhood friend, Tim helps him go all out to build a brand new board. In the middle of this father-son bonding, Brad talks to Jill about quitting his saxophone lessons. While the two storylines don't go together, they also don't achieve much on their own.

Snow is a great way to hook any viewer into a episode. It's magical, happy, and full of Disney magic. Even so, Tim's eagerness to build a sled with his son only reveals how competitive he really is. He matches the same effort he has for his work life at home, but for all the wrong reasons. Brad feels like the child who's been left behind, talking to his mom in the kitchen about things that aren't really interesting. Instead of a snow-fest, this episode feels more like a snooze-fest.

Best: Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1)

It's difficult not to include where "Home Improvement" began in a list of the show's best episodes. Introducing us to a fraught yet loving family of five, the Taylors are just starting to find what they're good at. Keeping its story short and simple, the "Pilot" find Tim at odds with the family's dishwasher. Choosing to make it more powerful than it already is, Tim's zeal for a DIY fix leads to explosive results. While it's hard not to break into laughter watching the dishwasher explode across the kitchen, the episode is well-balanced with touching father-son moments.

Though the action itself is dynamic, "Pilot" also sets up elements that became integral to the world of "Home Improvement." Jill pursues her career from the get-go, heading off to a job interview while the boys stay at home. "Tool Time" sets its routine for opening each episode while the sage advice of a distant Wilson makes itself known. Every scene in the episode is enjoyable in its own right, leaving a fantastic appetite for more things to come.

Worst: Overactive Glance (Season 2, Episode 3)

When Tim isn't sharing wisdom on his home improvement show, "Tool Time," he's giving his wife Jill another reason to be annoyed. In Season 2's "Overactive Glance," he's caught looking at another woman while out for a romantic dinner. Jill's self-confidence goes downhill and she accuses Tim of having a wandering eye. In the broader picture, Tim's defensive reaction is hardly surprising. He has built his career on the back of a macho man persona, and he thinks of himself as an all-American guy. He's quite power-hungry and loves to have things on his own terms. So when Jill confronts him, it makes sense that he would try and justify or minimize his behavior.

Sadly, Tim's defensive nature does little to make the episode worthwhile. The slapstick comedy feels a bit dated, while Tim's eventual apology is lame and half-hearted. Having a wandering eye is used in many family dramas, and it seems like a wasted opportunity not to use the storyline differently. Still, at least the pair can put on a happy face by trying to make their kids into budding NFL stars.

Best: A Night To Dismember (Season 7, Episode 5)

Something viewers can usually count on American TV to do well is deliver quality Halloween episodes. Tim and Jill are eager to be part of Mark's video for film class in Season 7's "A Night To Dismember." However, they don't realize that the full film is a horror flick that might reflect his own feelings. There are huge laughs to be had in Tim's on-camera acting and Jill's concerns the movie isn't scary enough. Beyond that, while the family bonding is all in good fun, the episode delicately deals with Mark's feelings and the importance of communication.

When "Home Improvement" is at its best, it's able to tackle comedy and drama all at once. "A Night To Dismember" is a fantastic example of what the series often got right, balancing vulnerability with classic physical laughs. The black and white shots are great for maintaining the spooky vibes, while there's even time for pumpkin carving in the opening segment of "Tool Time." Watching the Taylors play into some well-known horror tropes is thoroughly amusing, and "A Night To Dismember" delivers the goods.