Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Last Man Standing: The Baxters Get a Dog...

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Okay, we finally have something new that sets apart Last Man Standing from Home Improvement. On the latter, they never had a dog. On the former, they now do. I'm not sure how different this will make the show (the number of similarities between the two are already staggering), but it should do something. Especially since the dog is so... girly... for a character like Mike. But, canine aside, the episode brought up another interesting issue... it was "take your daughter to work" day, which traditionally takes place later in the spring. Of course, one could say that Outdoor Man has its own tradition of doing it in January, which could be believable if Gabriella had just finished her MBA or an internship or something. And, why Eve? Simply because Kristin has already been established as working as a waitress before she'll eventually go to college? Because Mandy has already had an episode where she goes to work with Mike? I mean, it's not like we needed to see them interact - that happened when Eve played in Mike's company's softball game. It wouldn't have been hard to introduce Gabriella without a "take your daughter to work" excuse. Can anyone see a good reason to have that and bring Eve to the store?

Last Man Standing "Take Your Daughter to Work" (S01E13): Mike and Eve are at his store for "Take Your Daughter to Work Day." Ed's daughter, Gabriella, a recent Wharton Business School graduate, is there too, and has apparently become a new marketing consultant for the store, irking Mike. [in case this show wasn't Home Improvement enough for you, Tim Mike drives a classic truck, by the way.] On the way home, Mike and Eve almost hit a little white Maltese. Eve wants to keep the dog, but Mike tells Mandy to make posters and Kristin to call local vets and shelters. [I'm really surprised at how quickly the girls jumped up to help...

At work, Gabriella wants to re-design the store as "ODM," for Outdoor Man, suggesting that the company needs to diversify because the average customer is a 43-year-old-man. Mike reminds Ed that the market is "that guy." [true!] Gabriella gets upset and complains about her dad missing school plays when she was younger, so he gives in. [oh boy. I see where this is going...] But, it isn't long before Ed and Mike go in to confront Gabriella, and Mike has to be the one to say that they can't go forward with her plan. Gabriella reminds her father that this is the same thing as always - he makes a promise to her and then reneges. Later, Mike gets Ed and his daughter together to repair their relationship and understand one another, and we learn that Ed has six daughters. Mike does compromise, however, by deciding to open a new website with an ODM banner, which won't alienate the current demographic but could bring in new folks as well. [I thought that was a very sensible and mature thing to do.]

Back to the dog at the Baxter house... a ton of guys call about the pooch, and Eve points out to Mandy that the poster says "looking for my master" and is a picture of Mandy and the dog. [stupid but got a laugh.] But, the dog ruins an African drum of Mike's, which may be the end of the ankle-biter... though Eve tries to cover by saying she chewed the drum and "went" on the floor. [gross. and unbelievable. but amusing.] Mandy, who has been under the impression that she's allergic to dogs because Vanessa lied to get her out of a mall when she was four, has taken to wearing a surgical mask and gloves around "Muffin." [I loved some of the jokes about the small stature of the dog - "it's not a dog if it can be killed by a cat"  and " it's not a dog if it could be accidentally vacuumed up" were the best. you?] Mike eventually hears from the owner, Elliot (who goes by "Wenus"), who took three days to realize the pup was missing. [that can't be a good sign!] The girls go to say goodbye to the dog, and Vanessa tells Mandy the truth about her "allergy." Mike says that sometimes lies are necessary, as he likes Chinese food but has been keeping up the front that he doesn't in order to avoid watching Vanessa slurp the hot and sour soup. [how bad can she be?? Also, they've been married 30 years?!? waited quite a while to have that first kid, eh?] Mandy tells the dog that "you make me want to be a better dresser," and Eve coats it on thick by saying "you're just about the best thing I've ever met... I don't know what I'll ever do without you." After meeting Elliot, Eve doesn't think he's a fit owner. [and, he probably isn't... he admits to being a stoner.] Mike lets him leave, though the whole family stares at him until he goes after the dog, which he brings home. The episode ends later that night with Vanessa and Mike talk about how they'll eventually have to care for the dog when the girls get over the novelty of having a dog. [yeah... how's that going to go? Maybe Kristin will be out of the house and Boyd would want the dog then? or they'll grow attached to it?]

Finally some other fun things from the episode... Mike's vwork video is him with the dog and a gun. And a threat, for that matter. [has Tim Mike taken over the role of Wilson on Home Improvement? He related historical or cultural information via video the way Wilson shared it with Tim (and, occasionally, other members of the Taylor clan).] The other neat thing? Mike received the drum for "bringing water to a village" singing the Michigan Fight Song. [love it!]
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