If Tim Allen and Richard Karn reuniting for a reality building competition reminds you of their classic sitcom “Home Improvement,” that’s the point.
History Channel’s “Assembly Required” (premiering Tuesday, 10 EST/PST) lets the pair “be exactly like we were in ‘Tool Time,’ ” the DIY show-within-a-show in ABC’s former hit sitcom “Home Improvement,” Allen told a Television Critics Association panel last week.
Joined by DIY woodworking expert and YouTube star April Wilkerson, Allen and Karn will oversee a competition between makers across the country as they build a variety of contraptions “from a dual, all-season ice-melter/leaf blower and all-in-one riding comfort mower to a do-it-yourself jacuzzi and BBQ bicycle,” the network says.
Each of the 10 episodes features three contestants building from their home shops, with Allen and Karn, both executive producers, popping in virtually to comment on the competition across two challenge rounds as Wilkerson explains the intricacies of the inventions. Eventually, two finalists’ creations will be tested by Allen and Karn at Allen’s workshop, and the winner will receive $5,000.
The reunion arrives on the 30th anniversary of “Home Improvement,” a ratings colossus that ran for eight seasons, from 1991 to 1999. Allen played Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, a married father of three who hosted a home improvement TV show with Karns’ Al Borland as his sidekick.
Allen, now finishing the final season of Fox’s “Last Man Standing,” said he initially didn’t think Karn, a friend, would want to be part of the show, but “he jumped at the chance. And then, all of a sudden it became the two of us, kind of a live version of ‘Tool Time,’ if you will. We were very similar to the characters we play in that show.”
The chemistry between the two actors was immediate when “Home Improvement” began filming, Karn said.
“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 were playing off each other,” he said. “We were just doing our job, and the writers were able to watch that and lean into it and write for it.”
In shooting “Assembly Required,” Karn provided a calming influence for Allen, who had no experience with unscripted formats and said he felt as if he was “coming unglued” at times.
“Rich was able to go, ‘OK, OK, OK.’ He’s a consummate professional and genuinely calm-hearted person. And it was a perfect match to pull me out of having to go insane,” Allen said. He “was able to bring it back down and be exactly like we were in ‘Tool Time.’ It’s amazing how this is an expansion of that relationship.”