Home Improvement

Season 6 Episode 24


Aired Unknown May 13, 1997 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
40 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


Stressed out over school, Jill fakes illness to prevent her father from visiting, only to learn that he died shortly after she lied to him. As she wrestles with guilt and grief, Tim steps up to support his wife.

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  • Jill avoids a visit from her father by using the age-old "I'm sick" line, which turns out to be a grave mistake. A wonderful and emotionally on-target episode that, as usual, lets you relate to the Taylors as if they're a real family.moreless

    This is definitely one of the highlight episodes of Season 6, and probably among the best in the entire series, as well. As one of the handful of "Home Improvement" episodes that set aside most of the trademark humor and went for something more dramatic, it's a nicely done episode that has good writing, solid acting, and matters of the heart that hit closer to home than most of the television we see nowadays.

    Burned out after a long college semester (and boasting a 4.0 GPA), Jill is looking forward to having some "me time," and being with her parents doesn't exactly fit into that plan. When her father calls and asks if he can fly in for a visit, Jill gets out of it by faking illness, then lives to regret it when he dies from an unexpected heart attack just days later. What follows is Jill's mounting guilt as she must come to terms with her unsettling final words to her dad--a difficult personal issue that is aggravated even more when she flies back home for the funeral and is coddled by her mother and sisters, who still believe that she is sick.

    This was a point in the series that actress Patricia Richardson really started fighting harder for more screen time and input for the development of her character. By this time, Jill had become a much stronger part of the show, and with Richardson's performance here, you can tell that she truly deserved to be in the spotlight more often. I could feel her pain as she dealt with her father's death, and in truth, we have all told a little white lie to avoid seeing someone at a specific time (and probably more than once, if we're going to be really honest), but it just doesn't typically work out the way it does with Jill. I appreciated Richardson's emotional range in this episode and am glad that she insisted on contributing to the actual script in many cases. She knew how to help make on-screen situations like this real, and that mattered more to her than the humorous element of the show. As a result, there are episodes are plot material that you can understand and respect as more than just the plights of a non-existent TV family.

    What I also like about the episode is how it realistically portrayed the varying reactions that people have when there is a death in the family. While Jill has a hard time holding herself together emotionally, Randy copes by making awkward jokes, Jill's mother is rigid and seemingly unaffected at times, and Tim just does his best to stay busy and help whenever possible. It was beautiful to see how much he stepped up and supported his wife through such a horrible time, and indeed, you could really see how much love they had for each other. Some modern-day marriages could take a sound lesson from Tim and Jill Taylor.

    I would rate "Taps" with a well-deserved 10/10. As always, the writers took some plot material that can be very tricky to transfer to screen, especially with a family sitcom, and they made it absolutely relatable. There was never too much sap, but enough emotion to make you well up (these are, after all, characters that we have come to love), and there are even some moments where you laugh, but it is never cheap or inappropriate. Gotta love a show that can achieve that!moreless
  • Jill comes home excited that she has gotten a 4.0 average. Wanting some time for R&R, Jill tells her dad she is sick, when he asks if they can visit. She regrets this very much when she learns that the Colonel has died of a heart attack.moreless

    In my opinion, this is a very well-written episode of Home Improvement. They've managed to shift the focus from Tim/Tool Time to one of the other main characters -- and still keep the laughs.

    Jill's dad calls and asks if he and her mother can visit, and Jill lies to him, because she wants time to herself. She feels very upset that her last memory of her dad is lying to him. Tim, for a change, doesn't make Jill angry in this episode. Actually, he "says all the right things" and is there to comfort his wife when she needs it most. This is truly a good way to show just how much Tim and Jill care for each other. Wonderful episode.moreless
Carlene Watkins

Carlene Watkins


Guest Star

Maryedith Burrell

Maryedith Burrell


Guest Star

Loryn Locklin

Loryn Locklin


Guest Star

Debbe Dunning

Debbe Dunning


Recurring Role

Tudi Roche

Tudi Roche


Recurring Role

Polly Holliday

Polly Holliday


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • In the scene where Jill comes back from shopping all day, she says, "You cannot imagine how good I feel," and her hair is covering her ears. In the very next shot, though, she has her hair behind her ears. Then, in the shot after that, all of her hair is over her ears again.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Heidi: Hey Wilson, I would love to have this antique cheese whipper.
      Al: That's not fair. I saw it first. I'll give you twice the asking price.
      Heidi: I'll double that.
      Wilson: Well, that brings us up to eighty cents.
      Al: I'm out.

    • Jill: You took care of all the travel arrangements, you took care of the boys, and you took care of me.
      Tim: I did what I had to do. I didn't even think twice about it, honey. Come on.
      Jill: But that's what makes it so wonderful. That I can count on you when I need you the most.
      Tim: I'm just sorry you had to be reminded of that fact on such a sad occasion.
      Jill: Look at you. You're saying all the right things.
      Tim: Enjoy it while you can. I don't know where it's coming from, but I'm sure it's not gonna last.

    • Randy: (after their grandfather has died) Whoa, you know, I just thought of something. What if Mom let Grandpa come here for the weekend, and it happened here?
      Brad: Yeah, he used to sleep in my room. He could have died in my bed.
      Randy: And you'd still have to sleep in it. Of course, you know, I'm sure Mom would flip the mattress...

    • Brad: I can't believe we'll never get to see Grandpa again.
      Tim: Well, actually, we will get a chance to see Grandpa one more time.
      Brad: An open casket? Geez, that's gross!
      Randy: Well, just think of it like an open house...

    • Brad: Dad, grandma's on the phone. She wants to talk to you.
      (Hands Tim the phone)
      Tim: Thanks. Hi, Lillian. No Jill's not here she's uh, out, you know, buying stuff to nurse her cold. What? Oh, my God that's, that's horrible, Lillian. How did it happen? Oh, how are you doing? Oh boy, this is horrible news. What can I do? Oh yeah, go ahead and call all of them, and Jill will call you as soon as she gets back. Okay. Bye.
      (Wilson, Heidi and Al come to the fence)
      Wilson: Tim, what happened?
      Tim: Jill's dad died.

    • Jill: Come and say hello to your aunts.
      Mark: Are they still going to pinch us, even though we're here for a funeral?
      Tim: The sadder the occasion, the harder the pinch. See this scar here? My dad's funeral, Aunt Winnie, she took a chunk of flesh right out of my face.

    • Jill: Did you guys iron your shirts? I want you to look good for the funeral tomorrow.
      Brad: Mom, you've been through enough, let's not talk about the shirts.

    • Nana: He always had to have everything his way. It could be twenty below zero and he still wanted the bedroom window open. And you remember when he went in for his knee surgery.
      Jill: Yeah, he yelled at the surgeon because the scalpel wasn't shiny enough.
      Nana: And then he told the doctor to drop and give him twenty, right there on the operating room floor.
      (They both laugh)

    • Nana: He was pushy, he was stubborn, he was hot-headed, and he drove me crazy. And I miss him so much.

    • Nana: I keep thinking I'll come down these stairs and see him in front of the TV, yelling at "those liberal Yankee newscasters."

  • NOTES (0)


    • Episode Title: Taps

      "Taps" is commonly played at funerals of those who served in the U.S. military.

    • Tim: You can't handle the truth!

      This was Jack Nicholson's famous line from the 1992 movie A Few Good Men. Jill's father probably reminded Tim of Nicholson's character, a tough Marine Colonel.

    • Jill: Dad knew ELVIS?
      Nana: He was his commanding officer. Who do you think "Hound Dog" was written about?

      A reference to the King of Rock 'n' Roll and his brief military service.

    • Mr. Stillman: We feel we know all our guests in spirit.
      Tracy: Your guests? What is this, the Bates Motel?

      A quick reference to the classic horror movie Psycho.