When Eve asks for a ride to soccer practice, Mike scoffs, "Soccer, that's just Europe's covert war for the hearts and minds of America's kids." That might have been funny fifteen years ago, but has Mike ever heard the term, "Soccer Mom," dating from, like, 1996? Kristin doesn't want him to take little Boyd to daycare because he teaches the toddler to diss Obamacare. Rather than a clueless but funny dad, Allen now plays a grouch in the making, the kind of guy you meet at parties who's ready to buttonhole you and vent about some social or political subject unless you can find a way to excuse yourself. In other words, a boor.

Home Improvement came along just when the men's movement was making waves through society, inquiring into the true nature of the masculine gender. This coincided with a rising interest in do-it-yourself stores like Lowe's and Home Depot, mostly male zones. The title itself had a double meaning that hinted at the show's theme of Tim Taylor trying to figure out how to be a good husband and father, with a different challenge each week. 

The series had the writing and acting talent to keep the show high in the ratings year after year and it made Allen the most highly paid television star of the day. The new show is too close to the original in concept to have a clear identity of its own and the writers are left with contrived plots and dialog. The third episode did have a funny and satiric take on day cares that are driven to de-masculinize boys at an early age in the goals of eliminating male-female differences. For a few moments it had comedic traction before collapsing back to sitcom shtick. Allen's embattled male act feels very crusty and wrinkled. Though he and his co-stars are all highly talented, they sadly have few laugh lines to keep the show standing high in the ratings.  

*This review first published 11/4/2011

**Watch Last Man Standing Tuesdays on ABC