Home Improvement

Season 8 Episode 11

Home For The Holidays

Aired Unknown Dec 08, 1998 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
39 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Home For The Holidays

Randy shows up completely unexpectedly for a Christmas visit, and he quickly realizes all the changes that have occurred during his absence. Jill has her hands full helping the twins cope with their parents' separation during the holidays, and Tim is not pleased when he finds out who his newest rival is in the neighborhood lighting contest.


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  • It's the same "Home Improvement" you always loved--a true-to-life plot, a nice message that doesn't go overboard, and of course, one more appearance from Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

    The more I watch "Home Improvement," the more I respect it for doing what not many shows know how to do, which is to be completely honest about the reality of family life. This show does it just right without even trying that hard, and this is a nice episode that deals with actor Jonathan Taylor Thomas's very last appearance as Randy Taylor.

    The story begins when Randy bounces through the front door completely unannounced, with an enthusiastic "Feliz Navidad!" Although his parents and siblings are happy that he is home for Christmas, Randy is a little taken aback when he finds that their hectic schedules make it difficult for them to pay much attention to him. Tim is busy participating in a neighborhood lighting contest, Jill has her hands full trying to help her two young nieces cope with their parents' separation during the holiday season, and Brad and Mark suddenly have a slew of inside jokes that leave Randy feeling very out of place. He can't even find a few minutes with someone to share the news of what is going on with his life in Costa Rica, and when he brings home some carefully chosen, environmentally conscious presents for everyone, he's upset to learn that they don't appreciate it the way he does. It's getting tougher and tougher to find some quality time with his parents after being gone for so long, and ultimately, it's Wilson who helps Randy realize the role he must play in reconnecting with his family.

    This is a great episode that will hold a lot of relevance for anyone who remembers what it was like returning home for the first time after a few months at college, or popping back in for a visit after being away for a while. Part of you thinks that everyone will drop what they're doing to welcome you back home and spend time with you, but in reality, life just keeps marching on for everyone, and that long-awaited homecoming usually isn't what you expect it to be. The things that Randy was feeling were portrayed very well, because he clearly wasn't pouting or feeling sorry for himself. He loved what he was experiencing in Costa Rica, and he wasn't regretting his decision to do it, but he was just a little sad and disappointed that the "safe haven" of home wasn't the same thing it used to be. Truth be told, he missed his family, and they missed him too, but there was just so much going on in their personal lives for them to really stop and focus on it. It's the most normal thing in the world for any family out there. The message about always being able to go back home, no matter how much things change, is a nice message, and this episode handled that theme with dignity and real-life examples that were perfectly placed in each scene.

    Again, this is the last time we see JTT reprise his role as Randy, which is definitely sad for audiences who grew up with the character and miss his well-written, flawlessly delivered wisecracks. He did a great job developing the character, and it really was too bad that he couldn't stick with it for just this one last season, or at the very least, return for the finale. After all, there were many episodes where he appeared in just one scene and had maybe a couple of lines, so I'm sure they could have lightened his schedule and kept him as a regular cast member for the last batch of episodes--but then again, maybe it's more complicated than that. Many of the cast members have said in interviews that they're as baffled as anyone else that he didn't appear in the finale. Sometimes I wonder if when JTT came to film this episode, there were vibes on the set that were similar to the episode's plot, and that prompted him to make the final break. Of course, that's totally just a theory of mine, and I guess we'll never know for sure, but case in point, it was nice to see good old Randy again, and it was good to see the Taylors back together one last time, no matter how short-lived it was.

    All in all, It was typical "Home Improvement" that was well-written and surprisingly effective for a series that was in the middle of its eighth season. I really like how Marty and his twin daughters have become a part of the show without making them seem like a desperate "last resort" for ratings when the three original Taylor boys grew up. Even after all those years, the writers still knew how to come up with truly funny, poignant, and worthwhile episodes like this one, and you can't ask for much more than that. ~~10/10~~moreless
  • jonathan taylor thomas' last apperance on the show :(

    this is a sad episode realy, randy returns home from costa rica for christmas, only for everything to have changed and everybody to have moved on. i don't like this episode in the way that randy feels left out and nobody has time for him, but i like the fact they brought him back for one last episode, as i love jonathan, he is such a good actor and it was sad to see him leave the serismoreless

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Brad: (about Mark) Stealing candy from his little cousins. He should be ashamed of himself!
      Jill: Nice try, Cinnamon Breath. You should be ashamed of yourself for selling out your brother.
      Brad: And yet, oddly, I feel great.

    • (Tim brings out his secret weapon for bringing down Al's Santa)
      Jill: What is that?!
      Tim: It's a wise-man with a harpoon gun.
      Jill: Tis the season to be packin'.

    • Jill: Guys, will you clean up this pigsty. Now.
      Brad: Yeah, we'll get right on it.
      (He & Mark pick up some clothes, then drop them back on the floor)

    • (Making gingerbread houses)
      Gracie: Oh no, Claire put her shutters on backwards!
      Claire: I wanted to do it like Uncle Tim!

    • Jill: (seeing the filthy basement) Randy, I thought I told you that Brad and Mark are . . . pigs.
      Randy: No, the family I'm staying with has pigs, and believe me, they're a lot neater.

    • Claire Can Aunt Jill read us a bedtime story?
      Jill: Oh, I can do even better than that. I could tell you a story about Christmas when I was a little girl.
      Gracie No thank you. (twins run upstairs)
      Jill: Boy, they get smarter every year.

    • Tim: A chasing light set, this is great.
      Brad: Yeah, for the manger on the roof.
      Tim: However, there's no lights in the box.
      Mark: That's because they're already up there.
      Tim: No way!
      Mark: Turn those babies on, and it's going to be a disco inferno.
      Tim: Silent Night Fever, I like it!

    • Randy: I miss Arnold Schwarzenegger movies in English.
      Tim: Yeah. How do they say "Hasta la vista, baby" in Spanish?

    • Mark: So, uh, how's Puerto Rico?
      Randy: Costa Rica!
      Mark: Then I guess you didn't get my letters.

  • NOTES (4)


    • Wilson: Frank Baum wrote, "There's no place like home."

      "There's no place like home" is a famous line from the book and movie The Wizard Of Oz.

    • Brad: Plug those lights in and it's gonna be a disco inferno.
      Tim: Silent Night Fever, I like it!

      "Disco Inferno" is a song best known for the line, "Burn baby burn." Saturday Night Fever is a movie with John Travolta.

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