Review: 'Assembly Required'

Post by: Rick Ellis 22 February, 2021

I am probably breaking some TV critic code by doing this, but I am beginning my review of the new History competition series Assembly Required with my conclusion. If you are a fan of the 1990s series Home Improvement or simply enjoy competitive building shows no matter who the host(s) might be, then you are likely really going to enjoy this series. If you don't fall into either one of those categories, then your mileage may vary quite a bit on your level of excitement after watching the first episode.

Home Improvement was one of the biggest TV sitcoms of the 1990s and I think it's fair to say that while audiences loved it, the show was never much of a critical darling. That's also been the case with Allen's current series Last Man Standing, which is wrapping up this year at the end of its ninth season. Tim Allen is just one of those guys who doesn't get as much respect for his talents as he deserves. His comedy might not be your style, but given the success he's had in both television and in some films, he obviously knows how to connect with his audience.

And Assembly Required is designed to appeal to those viewers who enjoyed the chemistry of Home Improvement. Allen is teamed up with his old co-star Richard Karn in a competition series that looks as if could have been cranked out by a production company that's been around since those days back in the 1990s. In Home Improvement, Allen played Tim "The Toolman" Taylor, host of the home-improvement show "Tool Time." He was assisted on the show by his long-suffering helper Al Borland (Richard Karn) and to be honest, their on-camera chemistry was one of the most consistent laugh-getters of the show.

Assembly Required is basically "Tool Time: The Competition," from the chemistry between Allen and Karn to the look of the garage they use as their home base. All of which is great news if you read the previous sentence and thought "Man, that's my kind of show!"

In the premiere episode (and that's all I've seen so far), producers have chosen three "builders" to compete remotely from their home workshops in hopes of winning a $5,000 prize. The competition is two rounds and round one challenged the builders to construct their take on a Class A fire extinguisher that needed to put out a candle from ten yards away. They were provided with a box of materials, ranging from various parts that could be reworked into an extinguisher along with various other tubes, nozzles and random parts. The builders could also use anything from their workshop and were given three hours to complete their build.

They then tested their completed project on camera and one of the three contestants was eliminated. The second challenge asked the builders to put together a combination flame thrower/leaf blower. Something that could be used to clear the driveway in the summer or winter. Once again, they were given a box of materials, but this time they had five days to complete their project. Then their build was sent back to HQ, where Allen and Karn would test the items and choose a winner.

The format of the show isn't especially novel, but it's a good fit for Allen and Karn. Aside from testing the final build, most of their job involves watching the projects come together and then throwing out a few witty comments. The chemistry of the duo goes a long way towards keeping the show entertaining, even when Allen sometimes feels as if he's about 30 seconds away from yelling "Get off of my lawn" to some random passerby. Tim Allen is also a genuine builder of his own, and he and Karn seem to legitimately enjoy testing out these insane products.

The show also wisely has added a younger face to the mix YouTube DIY star April Wilkerson, who is there to be the show's resident hands-on expert. She also gets to screw a bit with the final two builders by purposely breaking something in the box sent to them. It's a simple fix, but they have to find it first and that uncertainly adds a bit more fun to the mix.

I've always enjoyed watching Tim Allen work, so I am likely the target market for Assembly Required. But if you're not, I'd recommend giving the show a try before you decide. If nothing else, Allen and Karn are having fun. Which is something we can all use a bit more in our lives right now.

Assembly Required premieres Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 on History.

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 February 2021 00:24