As Fox's Last Man Standing prepares to take its final bow, the cast is pulling out all the stops in its last season, including a Home Improvement crossover with a Tim Taylor/ Mike Baxter showdown. Showrunner Kevin Abbott gives an inside look as to how the cast brought its period crossover to life.
“We had already broken the first seven episodes, and our intention was to have the ‘Time Flies’ [flash-forward] be the first episode. And Fox came to us and said, ‘We’d love it if you could come up with some big promotable event.’ And I always hate that, especially on this show, where we tell smaller stories about family interaction,” the Last Man Standing showrunner told TheWrap. “Plus, it’s difficult to come up with some huge promotable event that happens in our little world.”
The series' team of writers eventually came up with the crossover idea, which Abbott describes as such a glaring option, after realizing most of the Home Improvement characters had already done a cameo on the new show. “It seems so obvious, so great and yet we didn’t think of it before," he said. "So we all got very excited about it,” he said, adding, that he “felt good that we’d be able to land the actor.”
Abbott explained the next steps as he and the cast navigated the right way to tell the story that felt right to its current star and honored the original show's creators. As we know, the star Tim Allen was more than happy to jump back into his old character, though he describes the experience as 'strange' after so many years.
“So the first hurdle you have to jump is to get Tim to sign off on it. I want to make sure that he wanted to play it — which he did, he fully embraced the idea, with the proviso that we would honor that character, not make fun of him or anything, which we would never do,” Abbott said. “I really liked 'Home Improvement' and Matt Williams and David McFadzean and Carmen Finestra, who created ‘Home Improvement,’ were really kind and generous in allowing us to use the character and certain iconic symbols from the show and bits. So we were going to bend over backward to not give them any reason to regret allowing us to do that.”
Season 9 of Last Man Standing premiered on Jan. 3, and fans are already wondering how the show will say goodbye in the series finale. The showrunner promises the series ending will answer questions that reflect many of its fans' issues due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.0comments
“I do have an idea what the series finale is and I can tell you it’s Mike’s journey this year. A lot of times over the series, we’ve had Mike as a huge force in other people’s journeys, that Mike is kind of this constant. This year, it’s about Mike Baxter and the pandemic has made him reassess things, reassessing where he wants his life to go moving forward and what he does about ‘Outdoor Man.’ I’m already fiddling around with it, because things do change as we go forward, but I believe it’s going to give the audience a sense of closure and a sense of hope.”
The upcoming crossover episode will air on Jan. 7 at 9:30/10:30c.