(KGET) — Tim Allen noticed for years that stores that sell hardware items have always been busy. Even the pandemic didn’t slow people from wanting to fix things around their house. In fact, it might have increased the interest as many found themselves stuck at home and in search of a project.
That long-running interest coupled with an idea Allen has had for years that there are plenty of people who would prefer to fix an item rather than replace it resulted in the new History Channel series, “Assembly Required.”
Allen is joined by his “Home Improvement” co-star, Richard Karn, as the co-hosts and executive producers of the 10-episode competition series that starts at 10 p.m. Feb. 23 on the cable channel. They will be joined by woodworking do-it-yourself YouTube star April Wilkerson who will act as the series’ own resident expert.
This reunion marks the 30th anniversary of the pair’s original television debut. The pair have stayed in touch socially since the ABC comedy ended. But, Allen didn’t immediately think of Karn as a co-host because he didn’t think he would be interested in doing a reality competition show.
Karn jumped at the chance and Allen is happy he did.
Allen says, “I could tell you that none of this would’ve happened when I was coming unglued on the set. As the director said, ‘You haven’t done this before, have you?’
“I’ve done a lot of movies. I’ve of course done television and concerts and theater. I’ve never been in this live format, and Richard was able to go, ‘Okay, okay, okay.’ He’s a consummate professional and a genuinely calm-hearted person, and it was a perfect match to pull me out of having to go insane.”
Karn humbly suggests it was all editing that made their co-hosting look so good. Although Allen was new to starring in the reality competition world, Karn has been in the forum before as host of “Family Feud” and “Bingo America.”
The fact they developed a connection through all those years of “Home Improvement” proved the biggest plus as they come across in “Assembly Required” a lot like their characters from the situation comedy.
The good-natured battling the pair did on the show was just something that grew out of the writing and the way the audience responded to the “Tool Time” segments.
Karn says. “Our relationship kind of happened before we knew what it was. We took our cues from audience reaction to us but we didn’t know there was anything really outstanding about how we’re playing off each other. We were just doing our job, and the writers were able to watch that and lean into it and write for it.
“I remember being stung to the soul one day when they said, ‘Well, you know, Al might come over to your house,’ and Tim’s like, ‘I would never be friends with Al.’ This was early, early on. And he was right. We really weren’t in the same circle of friendship at that point, but they kept writing into it and leaning into it. And as we got to know each other, I think that relationship just flowered.”
They needed that kind of connection for their new show as they ride herd over competitors – all working from their own workshops due to the pandemic – who are going head-to-head to create builds such as a dual all-season ice melter/leaf blower and all-in-one riding comfort mower and a do-it-yourself Jacuzzi.
Each week, “Assembly Required” features three makers who compete in a round called the “make-or-break challenge” where they have 90 minutes to build an item of Allen and Karn’s choosing while using the items specifically curated for them in their “mystery crates.” The second round is the “run-with-it challenge” where they will have five days to construct something that has never been created before by using the contents of another “mystery crate.”
The winning maker takes home $5,000 and the ultimate bragging rights.
Getting through the rounds was not always easy. Because the contestants were working in locations around the country, the Internet connections were not always the strongest.
Karn says, “We, on some levels, had to wait a while to make sure that the Wi-Fi and the cameras and everything were feeding us back all the information. There’s a little bit of a disconnect because we would watch this stuff and we’d talk about it to each other, but then when we actually saw it in person, there were big little things that we didn’t realize in the builds.
“And some of them worked amazing and then ones that looked great on camera, we’re like, ‘Ah, you know, that’s kind of cool.’ But it really opened up a whole ‘nother side of what this show can be.”
In other words, they fixed the problems.