Saturday, December 15, 2012

Yuletide TV Day 15: Home Improvement

Series: Home Improvement

Episode: S5E12 " 'Twas the Flight Before Christmas"

Original air date: December 12, 1995

Santa? Nope

Other holidays mentioned: None

Availability: YouTube

Unique Christmas Story:
I have a lot of difficulty with change. For all of my life I celebrated Christmas in the exact same fashion. It's a tradition I can set my watch by, and I like it that way. Sometimes I think about what it will be like when I move forward in my life and enter a serious relationship. Choosing between spending Christmas with my family or Christmas with my wife's is not a decision I look forward to making. I honestly don't know how some people do it.

These are some of the issues that this Home Improvement Christmas episode deals with. In some ways, Home Improvement is pretty lazy when it comes to its Christmas episodes. Almost every one in its nine seasons features Tim participating in the neighborhood lights contest. In another way though, the show exemplifies the importance of tradition by having this staple each year, but then creating new subplots that twist around it.

In season five's twist, Tim hands off the light duties to his three sons because he and Al need to go act as grand marshals at an elf parade (for the prestige, Al explains). However, the real reason Tim wants to go is to pick up a rare book for Jill at the bookstore in the town the parade is being held (ah, the days before the internet). Al meanwhile is getting into a tiff with his girlfriend who is upset with him for scrubbing their New Year's plans to spend time with his mother.

Most of the episode deals with Al trying to come to terms with which of these two women (his girlfriend or his mother) he should be putting first in his life. He feels a responsibility to take care of his mother, but wants to lead his own life with his girlfriend. 

Meanwhile, bad weather forces Tim and Al to get stuck in an airport with a surly clerk. There isn't much holiday insight provided in these scenes, but they are funny. Traveling during the holidays can be an awful experience, and there are a lot of different ways to approach it. Sitcoms use it to raise suspense, but there never seems to be any real anger here of Al and Tim not making it back in time to celebrate with their loved ones. Besides, that isn't what this episode is trying to get across to the viewer.

Sometimes we have to pick and choose who want to spend time with, and those decisions are never easy. But by looking at what is most important, we can always make the right choice.

Watch the entire episode below and hit the comments with your own holidays plans.

Unique Christmas Message:
If you're looking for good advice during Christmas, just ask the neighbor on the other side of the fence.

Christmas, New York, politics and more sitcoms.

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