Home Improvement

Season 7 Episode 5

A Night To Dismember

Aired Unknown Oct 28, 1997 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
43 votes

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Episode Summary

A Night To Dismember
It's Halloween at the Taylor's house. Jill is worried that Mark will spend the night alone with Ronnie. She asks Brad and Randy to take them to a party they're going to, but they refuse. Mark tells his parents that he and Ronny are in a film class, and that they're going to be making a horror film. He asks the family to be in it, and they accept. When they start, Jill and Tim worry that it won't be good because it isn't scary yet. When they find his video, they decide to watch it to see how it's going. They find out that it's about a boy, Clark, who has been ignored by his family, Jim, Lil, Chad and Andy. He sees a mad scientist, Dr. Wilsonstein, to get a potion that will turn them into freaks. He then decides to kill them. This makes Jill worry because she thinks Mark really does feel ignored, and wants to kill them. When they start the next scene, he is about to chop his father's head off, and Mark holds up a real knife. Jill has had enough, and decides that they need to talk.moreless

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  • The show's traditional Halloween edition opts for a creepier plot than usual, stemmed from Mark's most recent emotional issues...

    By the time Season 7 rolled around, it was no secret to anybody that the "Home Improvement" camp had more fun with Halloween than any other time of year. Beginning with Season 2, an episode of this type aired in October of every year, but with most of them, they worked primarily with a formula that allowed the Taylor family to find different, creative ways to out-scare each other. It grew into a signature element that audiences came to love and expect, and the talent of the writers blended well with the comfortable chemistry among the cast. This time around, however, the writers went for a combination of teenager drama and creepy thematic material, and while I wouldn't go so far as to say it's completely inappropriate for kids, some young ones may want to take a pass. In terms of going for something appropriately eerie for the time of year, they excelled in going a step beyond the usual formula, but when the rare opportunity arose to develop Mark's character, the episode faltered.

    Concerned about seventh grader Mark's strange and withdrawn behavior in recent months, Tim and Jill worry that he will just mope around with his peculiar new friend Ronnie on Halloween (played by the surprisingly funny Kaylan Romero, who can be humorous without saying more than two words). Their nervousness is alleviated when Mark shows an interest in making a Halloween movie, and when he asks the family to star in the production, they gladly accept. They are, after all, thrilled that Mark is "finally interested in something," but when the Brady Bunch-like video takes a morbid turn, Jill is convinced that it channels Mark's real-life feelings of being outcasted at home--and she is terrified that her lonely youngest child may start turning violent.

    Even before this season began, it was obvious that Mark could use some more substantial screen time and plot material, and because Brad's jock image and Randy's sarcasm could not be repeated on Mark, the writers were itching for something different. Forcing an uninspired goth phase on the third Taylor boy did not sit well with most viewers, who could sense that this was just a failed attempt to spotlight Mark a little more (which never really ended up happening, anyway). An episode like this could have given them a chance to shed some light on his recent transformation, but instead of jumping at the opportunity, they resorted to making Mark's character both unoriginal and one-dimensional.

    Contrary to popular belief, the goth thing actually wasn't a horrible idea. I have no doubt that they could have made it work just fine if they didn't just take the easy way out every time we got a little closer to understanding how Mark came to be this way. Dialogue such as "Maybe I'm just not like Brad and Randy" don't really reveal much of substance, and in the end, it seemed like Tim and Jill just backed off without truly attempting to learn more about their son's emotional teen problems. There are probably some people who saw something completely different than I did, but I just feel that if they were going to bother mixing some more serious material in a holiday episode, they may as well have done it right. To me, this potentially interesting plot thread was sadly dismissed before anyone really realized what could have done with it.

    Setting all that aside, however, I think that anybody who enjoys the memorable Halloween episodes from "Home Improvement" will probably like this one, too--and they might even appreciate it for taking an unexpectedly different direction. The storyline is certainly chilling enough to get you into the "All Hollows Eve" spirit, but if you've got a younger audience with you, beware of some slightly frightening images and dark humor that separate this episode from the others. What can I say? It's definitely one of my very favorite shows, and the humor of it seems to stay intact every time I watch it, but there are several other episodes that I prefer over this one. The more I think about it, the more I find myself wondering that if the issues presented had been given the time and development they deserved, maybe Taran Noah Smith could have been more legitimately involved in the show. You can't tell me that the athletic, troublemaking Brad and smart, quippy Randy were the only Taylor kids worth elaborating upon in the weekly scripts, but if Mark's insignificant role is any indication, we have been expected to settle for just that.moreless

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Brad: (On the phone) OK cool. Bye.
      Jill: Who was that?
      Brad: One of the guys on the soccer team is having some people over for Halloween, he just wanted to tell me what to bring.
      Jill: You know, I don't think Mark has plans for Halloween. Can you take him with you?
      Brad: Mom, I'm supposed to bring the chips, not the dip!
      Jill: Randy, what about you and Lauren? You're going to a costume party right?
      Randy: Yeah. We're going as the scariest thing we can think of . . . Republicans!
      Jill: Why don't you take Mark with you?
      Randy: That's a little too scary.

    • Tim: Let's not ruin something that he's excited about.

    • (Jill and Tim sneak a peak at Mark's movie)

      Mark: The perfect parents, the perfect sons, the perfect family. Except for the family member they ignored, the outcast, the forgotten son ... Clark! But Clark's got a plan, and when he's done, they'll be sorry! Very sorry!

      (Jill and Tim, who are watching the movie, stare at the TV and look scared)

      Tim: Who's Clark?!

      (Back to the movie, they show a science lab)

      Mark: Hello Dr. Wilsonstein. I need a potion!

      Wilson: What is your pleasure Clark?

      Mark: I need something that'll make my family look as weird as they think I am! (Lightning flashes)

      Wilson: The number 6! Selling like hotcakes today! MWAHAHAHAHA!

      (Gong sounds)

      Al: You rang Dr. Wilsonstein?

      Mark: Who's that?

      Wilson: That is my assistant, Algore! (Al gives a salute to the camera) He assists me! Algore, I need four of my face distorting potions! I see you've sampled one yourself!

      Al: I don't think so Doc!


      Wilson: MWAHAHAHAHAHA!

      (Back to Jill and Tim watching the movie)

      Jill: I don't think I like where this is going!

      (Back to movie)

      Mark: Thanks to Dr. Wilsonstein, I've turned my horrible family into zombies! Now I have the whole house to myself!

      Heidi: Oh Clark!

      Mark: Well ... Almost to myself!

      Heidi: More rootbeer?

      Mark: Don't mind if I do!

      Tim and Jill: (knocking) Let me in! Let me in!

      Ronnie: Clark! Parents.

      Heidi: What are you gonna do about them, Clarkie?

      Mark: I'll tell you what I'm going to do! It's time to say goodbye to them ... FOREVER!

      Mark and Heidi: MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      (TV goes blank)

      Jill: This is frightening!

      Tim: It's twisted, it's morbid ... this kid's great!

  • NOTES (2)


    • The episode title is a reference to Walter Lord's book A Night To Remember, which chronicled the sinking of the Titanic. It was later made into a movie with the same title.