Home Improvement and Soul Man


Home Improvement (1991-1999)
Soul Man (1997-1998)
Type: Crossover
Group: 2

   Home Improvement was ABC's hit sitcom based on the stand up act of its star Tim Allen. Tim played Tim Taylor, host of a local home repair program called Tool Time in Detroit, Michigan. The premise of the sitcom was that Tim was a man's man: he was obsessed with tools and improving his home and its appliances but would usually bungle or overkill his projects. Tim was a family man and he and his sons male antics were balanced out by Tim's long suffering wife Jill.

   In 1997, ABC decided to try out a sitcom as a vehicle for Saturday Night Live legend Dan Aykroyd. What sort of show to create though? Aykroyd was famous for some pretty extreme and wacky characters. For example alongside John Belushi he was half of The Blues Brothers. As the Blues Brothers the two would actually sing the blues and engage in comic antics. The Blue Brother made their cover of the song Soul Man famous on Saturday Night Live.

   The problem was Aykroyd was no longer a young outrageous comic and, quite frankly, for a family sitcom you don't want something that is totally outrageous. What to do? Soul Man ...hmmm interesting title really. It evokes Aykroyd's former antics but also has a religious context which is also more family oriented. What do you do with it though?

   What they did was take Aykroyd and cast him as a former hell raiser who as an adult was now a reverend and a single dad. He had that fatherly, friendly touch and yet he was also a fun loving kid at heart. It was a nice angle to play. I don't know about anybody else but when I was a kid the best priest I ever met was very much like Aykroyd's Reverend Mike. Father Tom would bring freakin' puppets into church! I' m talking the actual building! He would start stories by saying, "Gee, I remember when I was a little girl..." Hey, when you are a kid and an adult authority figure says something like that, its fall down funny.

   Anyhow, that is the sort of guy Reverend Mike Weber was too. Unlike Father Tom though Rev. Mike had his own kids to deal with in addition to his congregation. One of my favorite moments had to be when one of his sons came to speak to him in his role of religious advisor to confess something bad he had done. The idea was that anything he told Mike in his role as reverend was confidential and therefore couldn't be used against him by Mike in his role as father. Follow that? Hamstringed by ethics into a situation where he couldn't take any action as a parent, Mike had to try and wheedle his son into confessing what he had done to him in his role as father. It doesn't summarize half as amusingly as it actually played out.

   Well, as it turned out Soul Man like Home Improvement was set in Detroit resulting in occasional crossovers between the shows. Tim Taylor's assistant Al might show up helping Reverend Mike out on Soul Man or Reverend Mike might pop by the Taylor's house on Home Improvement for a visit. The shows had a similar attitude and feel to them and having them interact was nice synergy. It didn't last long though. Good or not, Soul Man bowed out after a season and a half run in 1998. At the end of the 1999 season Home Improvement called it quits too after a much longer and more successful run.

Other Home Improvement Crossover Links
Home Improvement and Buddies
Home Improvement and The Drew Carey Show
Home Improvement and Thunder Alley

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