In case you were wondering, Tim Allen does know that his new sitcom “Last Man Standing” is pretty much “Home Improvement” with daughters instead of sons.
“It isn't rocket science, what I'm doing,” says Allen, who readily admits that his new TV role as sporting goods marketer Mike Baxter is a simple twist on Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. “Instead of tools, it's sporting goods and guns and ATVs and boats, and I come home to four women.”
Allen says the new show’s DNA was specifically patterned after his smash 90s comedy, down to the three-camera setup and Mike’s confessional blog in place of Tim’s “Tool Time,” but this time he’d be that dad to three girls. “What I really wanted was to flip‑flop ‘H.I.,’ he explains. “I just really wanted to investigate what it would be like to be around four women that are intelligent and strong and fun and loving and a family. I have two daughters, a strong wife, and a mom and sisters, and I just love to be able to be in that world consistently."
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To keep things rooted in both familiar and fresh territory, Allen teamed with longtime collaborator John Pasquin, the veteran director/producer of dozens of “Home Improvement” episodes and three of Allen’s feature films, and series creator and executive producer Jack Burditt, an Emmy-nominated writer from revered series like “30 Rock” and “Frasier.”
Burditt says he couldn’t resist putting Allen’s trademark manly-man comic persona up against a modern generation of empowered females. “I'm fascinated that for the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the workplace is women and that 60 percent of all college graduates are women,” he says.” But that's only one element of the show. And I don't think you're going to see that as a theme week in and week out, because I think that would get old really quick. I think at the heart of it this is just a family comedy. It's about a family who don't always see eye to eye on everything but really like each other. And to me, that's the most interesting. There are a lot of themes that we're going to be tackling, and the man‑woman thing is only one of them.”
Allen says that TV execs also did not try to typecast him in the Tim Taylor in the years following his hit series. Offers for new projects came in, he says, but “oddly enough, it was never the same show. And I said, "I don't know why we would not do a version of the same show, rather than put me in a legal drama" – and there were several of those…and there were some shows – and I can't even tell you because it's too embarrassing: they cast a woman in the part they actually looked for me in. There's one on the air now that I circled, and we read it, and it was really good. But they decided not to, and they cast a woman in it.”
After some cajoling about which show it was, Allen provides a tongue-in-cheek reveal: “It was ‘Charlie's Angels.’ I was the middle one. I am very attractive in a halter.”
"Last Man Standing" premieres Tuesday night at 8 PM ET on ABC