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Home Improvement

Season 8 Episode 10

Thanks, But No Thanks

Aired Unknown Nov 24, 1998 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
32 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Thanks, But No Thanks

When Tim's brother Marty announces that he and his wife have separated, Tim invites him to move in with his 8-year-old twin daughters, without consulting Jill first.

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  • The Taylor household is about to expand, but not in the way that you might think. Changes are on the way for these characters, yet they keep it realistic, and the show remains as respectable as always! *Spoilers Included*moreless

    It is inevitable for any long-lasting television show to be at least somewhat weaker by the time it reaches its later years, but if they're lucky, they can still manage to be entertaining. Thanks to a generally consistent script and charismatic actors who worked very well together, "Home Improvement" didn't really have any serious "jump the shark" moments in their final season. This episode is a good example of how new plot material and desperate plot savers are two entirely different things, and fortunately, the writers succeeded in pulling off the former.

    The episode begins with Tim getting a phone call from his younger brother Marty, whose wife has finally had enough with his chronic inability to hold down a job. Therefore, in addition to losing Nancy, Marty has no income and no place to go, which means that he won't get much visiting time with his young twin daughters (unless staying in a cramped hardware store after hours is an appropriate living arrangement for two 8-year-old girls). After being prodded by Jill to be a supportive brother to Marty in this difficult time, Tim goes over to the hardware store and offers his help. What Jill doesn't expect is for Tim to come home, kick Brad and Mark out of their rooms, and announce that Marty and his daughters will be shacking up with them indefinitely. It is a rough adjustment for everyone at first, but just when things are going really smoothly (Tim has even "changed his entire personality," for goodness sake!) Marty impulsively decides to head back to the hardware store and take the girls home to their mother. Apparently, then, sacrificing time with his kids is far better than dealing with his impending divorce and accepting the close bond that Claire and Gracie have formed with their aunt and uncle over the past few weeks.

    As you might expect, things turn out just fine for everyone involved (thanks to an over-the-fence chat with Wilson and a revealing conversation between Tim and Marty), and by the time the episode ends, Marty and the girls have returned to the Taylor house for the time being. Since Randy's absence was obviously pretty permanent at this point, it made sense to rotate in a few new characters with whom the audience was already familiar. Marty always appeared in some episodes here and there, and his daughters were referenced a few times, but this is where the writers apparently wanted a little something to help keeps things lively in the show's last months on their air.

    One thing I really appreciated about Marty and the girls' transition into recurring roles was that even though they helped give the series some extra steam for its final stretch of episodes, it was never the writers' intent to have them carry it the rest of the way. Imagine how easy it would have been to put the girls in each of the remaining episodes and treat them as the the precocious, wide-eyed little daughters that Tim and Jill never had. Fortunately, the show was comfortable enough with its established characters to understand that this was not a necessary plot choice, so while Tim and Jill were able to bond with them and enjoy having little ones in the house again, the writers never took it too far. Whenever Claire and Gracie were in the mix, it was clear that Tim and Jill were always their aunt and uncle, not their surrogate parents, and I really liked how that was executed. That way, anytime the girls did get bratty or annoying--which did happen every once in a while--it was okay, because again, they appeared in only four episodes (three in a row when they were first introduced, and then one more later in the year).

    William O'Leary gives his same enjoyable performance as Tim's puppy-eyed brother, and Ashley and Lindsey Trefger are also likable as Claire and Gracie. For the most part, they seem to come across as typical 8-year-olds--cute, sweet, and slightly obnoxious from time to time, but never over-the-top, as can be the case with many sitcom kids. Longtime viewers will notice that the girls were given somewhat of an age jump this season (they magically went from age four to eight in just one year), but in a TV series that usually did pretty well with continuity, it's not that big of a deal. Of course, the Taylors are just as funny and charming to watch as always, and it is definitely nice to see Brad and Mark getting along now that Randy is out of the picture. Brad and Randy spent so many years ganging up on their targetable younger brother, but since they are now a little older, it opens up more fun and humorous scenes between them. One of the best scenes of the episode was when Tim came walking through the door and dropped the bombshell on his family mere minutes before Marty came ringing the doorbell, with his kids in tow. It was classic "Home Improvement," with spot-on reactions and a familiar humor that touched audiences for eight years.moreless
Ashley Trefger

Ashley Trefger


Guest Star

Lindsey Trefger

Lindsey Trefger


Guest Star

Blake Clark

Blake Clark


Recurring Role

Jim Labriola

Jim Labriola


Recurring Role

William O'Leary

William O'Leary


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • At one point in the episode, Tim is trying to spruce up Claire and Gracie's pancakes with "starchy little animals". Shortly after that, he makes a joke about putting spam and squid sandwiches in their lunches. In both instances, when the camera zooms in on the twins smiling and laughing, you can see them looking off in a corner of the room, where none of the characters are standing. It is obvious that the girls were looking and smiling at people who were standing behind the cameras during filming.

    • In one scene, Claire and Jill are obviously playing Old Maid, since Claire says at the end, "I win! You're the old maid!" However, they are not playing it the right way. Claire asks Jill if she has an eight, and Jill gives it to her. Actually, with this game, you are supposed to hold your cards facing you, and your opponent picks one at random.

    • Marty's twin daughters are now eight years old, and yet they were only four when we saw them a year ago, in Season 7's Say Goodnight, Gracie.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Jill: (about Marty and his daughters moving in) I can't agree to this until we work out all the details.
      Tim: I've worked out all the details.
      Jill: Oh, really? All right. Who is going to watch those girls when Marty is working?
      Tim: I don't know.
      Jill: Are Brad and Mark gonna be able to move back into their rooms when the girls aren't here?
      Tim: I...don't know.
      Jill: Do you even know when they're getting here?!?! (doorbell rings)

    • Claire: (playing cards with Jill) Do you have an eight? (Jill gives her the card) I win! You're the old maid.
      Jill: I hate that term. It is so old-fashioned. You know, women today do not have to be with men to be completely fulfilled.
      Claire: You're just mad because you lost.

    • Marty: (about his daughters) Oh man, I forgot to make their lunch!
      Tim: Got up early, made it myself. I knew just what they wanted. Spam and squid sandwiches, right?

    • Claire: (hugs Brad) Good night, Brad.
      Brad: Night, Claire.
      Claire: (hugs Mark) Good night, Mark.
      Mark: Good night.
      (Marty carries Claire to her room)
      Brad: I think we made a pretty clear statement.
      (Mark nods)

    • (Marty just moved in to the Taylor residence, and Mark and Brad have to room together)
      Brad: Well, that's us. A bunch of givers.
      Mark: Does this mean I get the bed?
      Brad: No fricken way.

    • Al: If you want to cover up a dull, unattractive surface, sponge-painting is a great option.
      Tim: Or you could grow a beard.

    • Brad: This really sucks!
      Jill: Don't talk to your father like that! (to Tim) This really sucks!

    • Harry (about the back room of the hardware store): That's where I stay when I tell Dolores I'm visiting my sister.
      Marty: I didn't know you had a sister.
      Harry: I don't.

    • Jill: I'm sending a Thanksgiving meal to Randy in Costa Rica.
      Tim: He can run, but he just can't hide.
      Jill: I didn't cook it. I bought it.
      Tim: Well, then, he'll really have something to be thankful for...

  • NOTES (1)


    • Jill: (to Tim) No, no, no. The Secret Garden is a children's book. You have My Secret Garden. I don't even want you to read that book!

      The Secret Garden, written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is a children's story of friendship, love, and determination. My Secret Garden is authored by Nancy Friday and includes provocative details about women's sexual fantasies.