End of ‘Last Man Standing’ hit Tim Allen very hard

Rick's Reviews

Tim Allen has struggled with the end of “Last man Standing.” (Photo courtesy of FOX)

(KGET) — Tim Allen has to say goodbye – again.

In 1999, Allen faced the finale of the super popular comedy “Home Improvement.” It meant not only leaving a job that had been so successful but the end of his TV family.

He’s facing that same process at 9 p.m. May 20 with the series finale of his latest series, “Last Man Standing” on FOX. It’s another farewell to a popular comedy and another TV family for Allen.

The final episode deals with what happens when the truck Mike Baxter has been renovating for 10 years is stolen. The Baxter family and friends come together for an emotional farewell to the truck that’s really a nod to the end of the series. The finale consists of two 30-minute episodes back-to-back.

This ending feels very different to Allen.

“Never have I enjoyed, outside of ‘Home Improvement’ and maybe moments of ‘Galaxy Quest’ and one of these jobs in stand‑up I love, but this crew from the guy at the gate to Radford inside, to people that we ate with.  I loved every second of this experience,” Allen says. “For whatever reason, this was the end of the nine‑year stretch on this, very difficult on me.”

“Home Improvement” was a show embraced by ABC until the end. Allen and the “Home Improvement” cast didn’t have much time to think about it all coming to an end. It was only during the final minutes of the last episode where everyone got emotional.

Like “Home Improvement,” “Last Man Standing” gave Allen the opportunity to play a memorable sitcom character. His Tim Taylor became so popular, he popped up on “Last Man Standing.”

The character of Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor became so much a part of pop culture, it has become a way he is greeted by many fans.

“They would come right into my face because somehow the characters that I’ve played other than Santa Claus seemed to be accessible, and they come up.  I’ve been called ‘Tool Belt’ more than once,” Allen says. “I still get ‘Hey, Tool Belt.’  I find it weird that, people, they still call me ‘Tool Belt.’

“In the next sentence, they say, “What have you been doing for the last ten years?’”

The answer is “Last Man Standing.” The big difference for Allen when it comes to the two characters is how naive he was with the first comedy. He was a comedian doing a TV show who knew little about the process.

A more seasoned Allen starred in “Standing” and he sees the character as a reflection of that.

“I liked how direct he was, literally.  I guess I’m a little bit closer to Baxter. I love the way that Tim Taylor did things because he’s more like me.  I end up starting stuff and breaking things which is where it started.  Baxter, I love. I love the way Baxter runs his business, really, the way they write that,” Allen says.

The outspoken nature of Baxter gave “Last Man Standing” a little more political edge. Allen has been surprised the show has gotten so much attention in the political arena because they opted not to make jokes about the former President.

Allen stresses the attention on “Last Man Standing” should have been on the family elements.

“This is more of, kind of, a selective comedy about family. Underneath it, the executive group has written great drama, and you loaded comedy on top of that,” Allen says. “The fact that Baxter had an anti government point of view is just interesting, I think.  I always thought it was Archie Bunker with a college education.”

Part of the reason this ending hit Allen so hard it impacted his health was that he had been through so many ups and downs with “Last Man Standing.” It was canceled after six seasons on ABC and then revived after a year hiatus by FOX.

And, Allen and the rest of the cast of “Last Man Standing” knew this was the final season when they began filming it. That gave them an entire year to deal with the impending end.

One thing Allen learned from his “Home Improvement” star Earl Hindman (who played Wilson, Tim Taylor’s mysterious neighbor) was to love the job. Allen and Hindman would walk through the “Home Improvement” set every morning as a reminder of how lucky they were.

That process only reminded Allen with ‘Last Man Standing” the end was coming and that meant not being able to work with a cast and crew that he loved.

“Having this canceled several times like that, you get used to the sudden death, and for some reason, I prefer that,” Allen says. “I was counting off the hours.  I did not do well with this.  In a very moralistic way, I’m glad it’s done because I can’t feel this way anymore.

“This is, was a wonderful experience, and it expressed itself, I believe, in a wonderful television show like none other.”

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