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Retro Fire

They say the only things certain in life are death and taxes. I got another one: how about change?  Times change, people change. Sometimes, whether you like it or not. I can see why change is scary; hell, I've been using the same oven mitt for twelve years. Of course, there are much bigger issues out there than what kind of kitchenware you're using. There's the global world itself, your community, your family, YOURSELF. And then... you have your friends. Maybe a best friend. At some point or another, all relationships go through a change. It is the inevitable. Life happens. Maybe one person is hanging onto the past, while the other has moved on. And it's not always a question of who changed, but who hasn't. Often times it's unsettling, especially when you see an old best friend you haven't seen in years. You always wonder, is the magic still there?  What's happened to them since?  Will you pick up where you last left off, or will it be awkward as hell?  Or have you both grown apart?  You find yourself wondering, do we have anything left in common, other than the past?  One thing's for sure: it's not easy saying goodbye

If you're lucky, you had a best friend at some time in your life. A best friend you hung out with, grew up with. Are you still best friends with that person? Or have times changed? This following story is something many of us can relate to. I know I sure can. It's about two best friends, the good old days, and the passing of time; FIFTEEN years to be precise. It's my favorite episode from one of my favorite shows...

One [or two -Ed.] of the best things to come from the classic show!

                                                        The original Tool Girl, Pamela Anderson

So popular it had its own Super Nintendo game!  Home Improvement


Home Improvement was one of the most watched sitcoms of the 1990s. Debuting just one month after the Super Nintendo did in the US of A, the family sitcom comedy exploded into American households coast to coast on September 17, 1991. The show centered around Tim Taylor, an accident-prone father of three
out in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. He also was the host of a lowly rated cable tool show, "TOOL TIME," where in each episode audiences were almost guaranteed one of the following: Tim cracks on Al Borland (Tim's assistant), Tim cracks on Al's hefty mom, or Tim causes an accident. Sometimes, even all three. TOOL TIME played nicely as a show within a show. Back home, Tim's plucky wife Jill held down the fort while neighbor Wilson Wilson (yes, Wilson Wilson) imparted much of his vast wisdom to Tim in almost every episode, with the funny gimmick of the audience never being able to see Wilson's face. As the series progressed, other family members would talk to Wilson, Jill goes back to college to gain her Master's Degree, the boys grow up and adopt their own trademarks (young Mark becomes a goth-type, middle son Randy becomes an outspoken environmentalist, and Brad becomes entrenched with his budding soccer career), and Tim goes through the various ever-evolving phases of being a father, husband, employee, brother and friend. The sitcom ruled the '90s, winning numerous awards and nominations. The final episode aired on May 25, 1999. Home Improvement ran for eight seasons, airing a total of 205 shows. To this day, reruns can be caught on syndicated TV, DVD box sets have been released, and fans still regard it fondly as one of their favorites of all time

Why was the show so popular?  Sure, people enjoyed watching Tim blow things up, break random gadgets, and knock out Bob Vila with a 4x8, but there was more to the show than that. I grew up a huge fan of the sitcom. All the characters were very likable, from the never-ending philosophical wisdom of wacky Wilson, Al's wonderful rapport with Tim, rock-bottom Benny, and of course, who could forget the gorgeous Debbe Dunning as the Tool Girl? Beyond all this, the show was funny. Not everybody enjoyed it, but I sure as heck did. Some ep's were plain silly, while others dealt with more serious life matters yet managed to do it in classic Home Improvement fashion: handling it with the right touch of sensitivity yet maintaining the light-hearted sense of humor the show was so well known for. Episodes about drugs, cancer and death among others. Sure, this was nothing new among TV sitcoms (Full House and Saved By The Bell had already
dealt with such issues) but nevertheless Home Improvement added its own spin on it and did so successfully. It was just a classic sitcom and the last one I ever really cared about. It had great parts that combined into one memorable whole. Of course, Tim will break every part... but that's also part of the show's charm, right?  ;)


Besides Tim, Wilson
was my favorite character. Imagine living next to him and having the luxury of hearing various 14th century quotes and anecdotes to lift you out of any sticky situation. Now that's a neighbor right there. He also had the ingenious gimmick of always having his face obscured. Usually by the fence, but as the sitcom series progressed, the producers found more methods; from medieval knight helmets to silverware
"Well Tim, I'm reminded of the 16th century poet..."

                                             Miraculously, he was always at the right place, right time

Wherever trouble was brewing; rather wherever Tim went, Wilson was there

                                                                  Rest In Peace, Earl Hindman


Christopher McDonald makes a special 1-time guest appearance in this Home Improvement episode. You might remember him. He's been in over 80 films and usually plays the devious bad guys or pompous assholes. Brief résumé:

-Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore

Tappy Tibbons from Requiem for a Dream

-Thelma & Louise

-Grumpy Old Men

-He also portrayed Joe DiMaggio in ESPN's original The Bronx Is Burning

-Plus voice work in The Iron Giant, Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond
Meet "Stu Cutler"

This is a story of two old best friends...

The passing of time...

And that inevitable mistress we call change

Whether we wish for change to happen or not.... sooner or later, it shall

Always has, and by God, always will


First aired January 14, 1992. Thank you Hemingway. Enjoy...

"Now remember what I told you. Plant your elbow inside your knee like this. Alright, and don't just lift your arm, pull the weight to your shoulder. GOOD, good. Now exhale. Try grunting, it helps"

"Good job Brad. You gonna be real strong
if you keep this up"

"I wanna be the strongest one on the football team"

"I can see it now. Bradley Taylor, the muscular son of Tim Taylor carrying the ball, he's got sixty people dragging behind him. 30, the 20, the 10 -- OH -- he fell because his muscles are just TOO big!"

"Hey Brad, your muscles look really big..."

"Think so?"

"Yeah, the one IN YER HEAD"

                                                              "Settle boys... I'll give ya haircuts"

"WHOAAA... Muscle Beach right here in my own garage"

"Wrong honey, this is the Tim Taylor Testosterone hour. I got an idea. Let's flex for her. Drop the weights. Alright guys, prepare yourself, ready...

Egyptian Biception!


                                                                           "BUTTOCK FLEX!"


                                                                  "Wow, incredible, ten points!"


"Well stick around
and I'll smear you
with bacon grease"


"Tim don't forget to pick up some videos tonight after work"

"Yeah Dad, how about we get Bury Me Again?"

"Hey NO!  It's family night!"

"Yeah yeah honey, it's family night... oooh how about... Bayonet Hell?"

"Hey, it's my turn to pick. You're going to get Sound of Music"


*phone rings*

"I'll get it"

"Family movie..."

                                        "Hey Dad, how about we get Fang Woman?  She had a family"

"She ATE her family"




"What's the matter?"


"Calling from Akron?"

"No, he's in town"


"DO NOT invite that slug over here tonight" 

"Come on... he's one of my best friends"

                                         "Hey Puke Face!  How's it hanging? .... And DEEP, hahaha!"

"So they let you back in town. Yeah, oh yeah, we gotta see each other..."

                                                                  "Jill would love to see ya..."

                                                                  "This afternoon?  Oh uh..."

"... I gotta work. Be working all day... uh huh... Come over there... yeah... yeah it'll be great...
uh huh... Not even with your lips, haha. Alright, see ya then"

"Please say he's not coming over tonight cause it's Family Night, and the chili, cornbread, the Sound of Music"

"I didn't invite him
OVER. I said I'll meet
him after work, we'll go
have a couple beers. I'll
come home after that"


"Yes. Why are you so hard on Stu?"

"The last time he was
here he shook up a
beer and sprayed it all
over the family room"

"Foam fight, he likes
to clown around"

"His idea of clowning around is drinking and making body noises"

"So?  He likes to drink beer and make music"

"Playing 'The Girl From Ipanema' in his armpit is not musical"
                                                                        "You ever tried that?"

"That's it from me....
Tim the Toolman Taylor, reminding you to get those storm windows and doors in early.... CAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW, when that storm's gonna come rollin' through. See ya next time"

                                                                        *AUDIENCE CHEERS*

"Good show, Al"



"Hey buddy!  Good to
see you!"

"And you too!"

"See you Monday, Tim"

"Wait a minute Al, come over here c'mon. This wild dog here was my college roommate. Stu Cutler, Al Borland"

"Hi Stu"

"Hey Al. Nice beard... had chili for lunch, huh?"

                                                                            "No I didn't Stu"

                                                        "SO, gotta work with this JERK huh Al?"

                                                                             "Yes I do Stu"

".... well it was nice meeting ya"

"Uh, GREAT sense
of humor!"

"Thank you"

                                           "He's a serious guy but he knows his way around the shop"

"Kill me, juuust kill me now. She looks even better in person. Introduce me"


"Why not?"

"Because she's a coworker, a good friend of mine and you're nothing but dry hog phlegm"

        "Watch my move.
         Hi, Stu Cutler"

        "Bye Tim, see
         you Monday"

        "Bye Lis"

"Ahhh boy. It's good to see you STILL have it, Cutler. She's not your type, man. SHE CAN SEE. Now come on, let's go down and get a beer. I'll get changed up and go"

"Your house?"

"I thought we go to the place on the corner we like"

"You're not gonna take
me home to dinner?"

"I thought maybe just you and me go out together"

"Wait, now I can't come to town without seeing Jill Pill"

"She'll understand, like a guys' night out"

                                    "Wait, so, you DON'T WANT ME to come to your house is that it?"

"No, of course not, you're ALWAYS welcomed at my house"


"... YEAH, WHY NOT!"

"Jill will be so surprised to see you"

"I can't wait to see her face!"

"Me neither...."

"Jill, Jill!"

"Oh good you're home. You got rid of Stu fast"

"I didn't get rid of him, he's parking his car"

"Oh no you brought him home!?"

"Jill, he really misses you. He likes you"

"No he doesn't, he just likes to make fun of me and crush beer cans on his head"

"Well, they gotta be crushed if you gonna recycle them... aww I couldn't get rid of him
I couldn't say no. He'll
just come over, have
a beer and that's it"

"Well OK, but if he crosses the line I'm personally going to
throw him out"

"What's crossing the line?"

                                                 "Behavior that would be classified as SUBHUMAN"

"Can't you be a little more flexible than that?"

"After ONE beer, he is GONE"



"Beer, Stu?"


"Come on in, buddy!"


"Riiiiight here"





"Gosh you look good.
Now you've lost some

"Yeah I have. Thank you"

                                                        "Now THERE'S a very human compliment"

"So what's the goal, another 10?"


"Tim, if you hadn't married Jill, I would have"

                                                 "Ha, now there's something to think about, honey"

"Weeell... life would sure be different"

      "Well it sure would.
       Timmy, you'd be
       visiting us tonight.
       And Jill would be
       a satisfied woman"

"Almost done with that beer, Stu?"

"Haven't even cracked it. So, where's the boys?"

"They're across the street"

"Well, get them over here Jill. I gotta see those wild puppies!"

"Weeell they wouldn't want to miss the Stu-sssster. Brad, Randy, Mark!"

                                                              "FOOOOOAAAAAM FIIIIGHT!!!!!"

"Hey come on!"

"Ah I wasn't gonna do it. Just wanted to see that look on Jill's face...

... Oh, yup, there's that look right there!"



"Hey Stu!"

"The Bradster!  You guys are getting so big, pretty soon you'll be able to take the old man"

                                                                           "We already can"

"Uncle Stu!!"

"Marky!  God you're getting so big and strong"

"We've been lifting Dad's weights, wanna see them?"

"Well sure, where are they?"

"In the garage, come on"


"Daddy was posing
for mommy"

"Posing as what?  A MAN??"

"Did he cross the line? You gotta admit, it's an interesting way to begin Family Night huh?"



                                          "THERE SHE WAS JUST AH WALKIN' DOWN THE STREET!"


She looked good,
she looked fine,
she looked good
she looked fine,
and I nearly lost
my mind!

Oh Taylor!  Think quick!"

*tosses beer can*

  "Crushed and ready to

  "It's official, that beer
   can is gone"

  "I'm way ahead of ya,
   I'll get him to go"

"Hey guys, you go inside and help set the table, I'm gonna talk to Uncle Stu"

"Oh not so fast poser. I got 150 pounds on here. Boys, I don't think the old man can bench press this"

"Show 'im Dad"

"Yeah, do it"

"Spot me"

                                                    "... Were you gonna do this sometime today?"


                                                   "He's turning red. I hope his eyes don't pop out"

"Are you OK Dad?"

"It's easy when you
use the right form"

"Are you gonna cry?"

                                                      "NO I'M NOT GUNNA CRY!  Go set the table"

"Hahaha... you didn't strain anything did ya?"

"Knock you out, Cutler"

"Hey, remember how we used to go to the gym practically kill ourselves trying to impress Donna Gilmore?"

"DONNA GILMORE... I haven't seen or heard from her in years"

"Hey remember, you and me and Donna driving around in our '68 Impala, top down, her blonde hair blowing in the wind... gosh she was a beauty"

"Sure was. WHAT A CAR"

"That was a 327 small-block, man. It had an Edelbrock Holley 850 dual feed on that thing. It had tubular headers, glass packs, chromed the kanuter valve, hahaha!"

"Hey, you know what I got?"

"I know what you got!"

"Picture of that Impala!"

"HOOD UP..."


"There's that screaming machine"

"This would be a classic today if it weren't for that little fire we had, and I know I turned that fuel filter on. It wasn't my fault!"

"HA... yeah we've had some good times haven't we"

                                                                             "Yeah we have"

"Don't you wish we could go BACK, live those days all over again?"

                                               "They were great.... but today's real good, ya know?"


  "Just look me straight
  in the eye, and tell me
  that wasn't the BEST
  time of your life"

"... It was good... it was good... listen Stu, Jill and I were talking, tonight's Family Night - "

"Wait, you've already made me feel like family. You know what we need here?  Another beer!"

"I'm all out of beer, I should have thought
of that!"

"I'll just go get some more"

     "Where's my coat?"

     "Whoa Stu, are you


"Well, it was SO nice to see you. I hope we can do it again"

                                "Well let's do it again in 15 minutes!  I'm just going to get some beer"

"Jill, that pile of human vermin, best friend I ever had"

                                                           "Stu, you should write greeting cards"

"Ha... oh wait... *burp*  AH, there it was"

*Stu exits*

"I told you I'd get him to go after one beer, I didn't say he wouldn't be coming back"

"I know we used to be friends in college and everything, but do you, um, like Stu now?"

"I know he can be a
pain, but we shared
a lot of good times"

"Well, if you just met him today for the first time, do you think that you would become friends?"



"He's a lot of laughs"

"I guess I just don't get it"

"... It's a guy thing"


"Hi-ho neighbor!"

"What you doin'?"

"OH just pounding myself some horseshoes"

"Wouldn't a pair of loafers be more comfortable?"

      "NOOO no no, Tim

       These are shoes I
       toss. Look at this,

       Perfect weight...

       Perfect balance...


      "Oh. OWWW!"

"And very VERY hot"

                                  "Ohhh I tell you Tim, I love this game. What it is, is ALL in the wrist"

"Wilson, can I ask you something?"

"Make your best pitch, Timmy"

"I got this old friend in town, and I always think we're going to have a lot of fun, but instead we always talk about all the fun we used to have"

"Well there's nothing wrong with reminiscing, Tim"

"But he thinks I'm the same guy I was 15 years ago"

"Mmm hmm, mmm hmm, mmm hmm"

                                                    "And I try to be that guy, but, I'm really not"

"Well it sounds like he's spending all his time looking backwards,
and, you're spending yours looking forward"

"That's it, I can't keep
up with this guy. The THOUGHT of crushing
a beer can on my head makes my butt QUIVER"

"Well that's why I gave it up, Tim"

"I don't know what to do about him"

"Well it sounds to me like you're having a hard time saying goodbye"

"Why should I say goodbye?  He's been one of my best friends for 15 years"

                                    "Well has he Tim... or was he your BEST FRIEND... 15 years ago?"

"You see Tim, I believe it was St. Paul who said, 'When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I THOUGHT as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things'"

"Arr arr arr..."



        "Hey!  Guess who
         I ran into down at
         the store?  Mike
         FORSHAY and

"Hey, TINO... what are those guys up to now?"

"Oh they're still a couple wild dogs. They're going down to Club Piranha and get crazy. I told them you and I'll meet them there"

"I'm not going to Club Piranha"

"But you have to go!
You remember back
in college the four of us
stayed up 36 hours and
then drove halfway to
Mexico City, with the
emergency brake on?"

"I'm not going out tonight. Stu, I thought we were gonna stay here. You know, watch TV, the video, chili with the kids"

"Oh right, the family thing... NO PROBLEM.
I'll call Tino and Forshay, they can get a keg of beer and come OVER HERE!"

"NO Stu, no"

                                            "HEY!  This is TINO and FORSHAY.  It'll be like old times"

"Tell you what, why don't you go down to Club Piranha, you hang out with those guys"

                                              "Without you?  COME ONNNN, it won't be the SAME!"

"Stu, I don't think it IS the same"

"Dad, dinner will be
ready, can I turn on
the video?"

"Not now"


"What you watching?"

"Sound of Music"

"... Sound of Music. Maybe I will go down and meet Forshay and Tino. Would I be a real jerk if I skipped dinner and kind of headed out?"

"No, not at all, skip"

"I just don't want to disappoint Jill"

"Don't worry about it. It'll be rough but I'll be able to smooth it out"

                                                        "Oh how lovely, we'll have dinner music"

"Come on Uncle Stu,
sit by us!"

"Well buddies, heh, I gotta be heading out"

"Jill, I know this is going to be a tremendous disappointment to all of you, Stu can't stay for dinner or the movie"


"I ran into some old buddies. We're just gonna go out, have some uh, coffee, talk"


"Bye Jill"

"Goodbye, it was nice to see you"

"Good to see you too"

"You be good, huh?"


"Bye Uncle Stu!"

                                           "If you and Tino and Forshay get crazy, call a cab alright?"

"Always do.... hey, next time I'm in town, I'll give you a little more warning when I call"

                                                                                "DO THAT"

"... We'll still get together... hang out... HAVE SOME LAUGHS..."

                                                                 "... Just like the old days eh"

"Just like the old days!"

               "Hey, tell you
                what, keep
                the beer"

               "Go ahead"


               "See ya"

               "See ya"

*Stu exits, Jill enters*

"Everything OK?"

"... Perfect"

        "OK Dad, the
         movie's ready"

        "OK, alright,
         can see?"


        "Wait, I'll need my
         box of tissues"


"This isn't Sound of Music, this is... Bayonet Hell!"


"Last time we showed
you how to install an
aluminum storm window
on an existing wooden
frame. Today, we hung
a storm door on an
existing wood frame"

"Now, the important thing about putting a door in is hanging it, cause if it's not hung well, then you got a problem. Right Al?"


"When installing a door, you gotta make it fit exactly like it's supposed to, so make sure your hinge's aligned with the king stud"


"It's also very important
to remember that doors often change with age. The older a door gets, the more warped it becomes"

"And sometimes we forget.... that things change with age...."

                       "SO, remember, check those doors, as they may not fit like you remember"



When I first saw this episode, I was only a kid. It wasn't until years later, in my 20's, that I realized what a great episode this was. It focused on a theme that many of us older cats can relate to. We all had a Stu Cutler in our lives. Heck, maybe at one point or another we WERE Stu Cutler. I grew up with a best friend named Nelson. Hell, he's mentioned probably like 25 times on this whole site. Nelson meant a lot
to me. My childhood just wouldn't have been the same without him. In recent times, we had
a chance to catch up, reminisce, and all that good stuff. Yes, times have definitely changed, as have we, but you find out... some old friends are worth hanging onto, and others, it's just best to move on. The past is all you have with that person. You hear the term "the Good Ol' Days" all the time. It's fun to look back on the good times you had with your friends, but, as Tim realizes, you can't stay there forever. And that today is PRETTY GOOD, too, if you make the most of it. I've had more friends from elementary, middle and high school that I've dropped rather than keep in touch with. Some of them are still stuck in the past. The others, we simply grew apart as time marched on. Most of my friends from college I keep in touch with, and a select few from my childhood. The ones worth hanging onto. So, remember, change is constant. Sometimes it seems to happen slowly, other times, in crashing waves. And that things and people definitely do change with age. Like Tim did, the important thing to keep in mind is, knowing who you really are... today

By the way, speaking of Nelson and old best friends, check this out: