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5 Ways a ‘Home Improvement’ Reboot Could Handle Wilson’s Death

If you were a fan of Home Improvement in the 1990s, just the mention of “Wilson” undoubtedly leaves you flooded with various emotions.

Warm neighborly love.

Mild annoyance.

Joy, at the thought of a familiar face.

And, if you keep up on your entertainment news, grief — at least in a mild, I-don’t-really-know-you-but-I’m-sorry-you’re-gone sense.

All of these feelings are yours courtesy of the neighbor who dolled out wisdom to Tim Taylor and his family for nine seasons from the half-anonymity of a suburban privacy fence.

The grief comes about because Earl Hindman, the actor who brought Wilson to (half) life, passed away in 2003, four years or so after the series ended.

It was sad.

But now, Hindman’s death could also be problematic in a different way.

See, in this era when there are no new ideas, or at least when no new ideas seem to be able to compete with our old ideas, reboots are a thing. A big thing.

And, in the face of other old sitcoms dusting themselves off and stretching for new life, it’s not surprising to hear at least some grumbling about a possible Home Improvement reboot.

Sounds like fun.

But how would Home Improvement deal with Wilson, specifically the fact that he’s dead?

Good question. I have a few suggestions …

Replace Him

The first option would be to just continue on with Wilson, same as the show would be likely to do with all the other characters. Of course, with Hindman no longer available, someone else would have to step in to play Fence Dude.

You scoff, I know, but it’s a time-honored tradition that sitcoms of yore carried off for decades, and that soap operas continue to pawn off on their fans today.

Think Carol from Friends … Becky from Roseanne … Darrin (Darwin?) from Bewitched … even Morty from Seinfeld. And, of course, pretty much everyone from The Young and The Restless.

It would be a lot easier to pass off a new Wilson than it was to get us to swallow any of those changes, too, because 1) Wilson is just eyes and 2) it’s been more than 20 years since he last peeped at us.

So, who are come candidates to replace Hindman?

The possibilities are endless, but I’ll offer up George Foreman, since Foreman is the opposite of Hindman. See what I did there?

Besides, big George could toss grilled meat over the fence to Tim and his family to keep the Taylors satisfied and quiet.

Ignore Him

Another thing you could do with Wilson is to just act like he never happened. I mean, sure, he was a key part of the show, and something fans looked forward to, and mimicked (in a good way) in their everyday lives.

But did Wilson do anything that is indispensable to the canon of the show. Does Home Improvement even have canon? A cannon, almost assuredly … but I’m not so sure about canon.

So, Tim Allen and friends could just go about their lives as if the house (or apartment or condo or wherever he’s living) and the kids and Tool Time and Al were the entirety of their universe.

They could pretend like Wilson never existed, just like Good Times pretended Carl Dixon never existed after Esther Rolle came back from her contract dispute.

Not a courageous approach, necessarily, but since when do we need courage in our sitcoms? And it would get things rolling forward.


So, that would be virtual reality/computer graphics, in case you’re keeping score at home.

The idea here is, you know ABC or Touchstone or Buena Vista or whoever owns all the Home Improvement stuff these days must have plenty of footage of all the first-run cast members.

That includes Hindman.

So, what they could do is combine some of that footage with modern computer wizardry to create a “virtual” Wilson who could be adapted to whatever the situation entailed.

Heck, they wouldn’t even need to get fancy because Wilson is just eyes and a hat.

Grab some footage that has already been aired, even, add some audio that sounds enough like Wilson — impostor! — and you got your Wilson.

And, even if the new creators wanted to be more authentic and create fresh stuff from the old Wilson pieces, it can be done. See Star Wars, the sequel trilogy.

Deal with It

We’re all in touch with our feelings and stuff these days, right? So maybe the appropriate thing to do — the modern thing to do — would be to just deal with Wilson’s death head-on.

Maybe flashback to a few scenes from his life behind the fence, then show the funeral that would have taken place when the series was off the air. Al and Tim could even build the casket.

Gruesome? Uncouth? Maybe. But if you think so, you’ll really love this one …

Al and Tim build the casket out of Wilson’s fence and line it with his old hats.

Whatever. You get the idea.

Then, maybe every once in awhile, someone could reflect on a piece of Wilson wisdom or slip into conversation a lament about how no one is expressive with their eyes any more.

For the most part, though, you’d just acknowledge the dude is dead, and then move on.

More Power … Reanimation!

Now if you thought the fence coffin idea up there was untoward, you should probably stop reading right now.

Because one way to fold in dead Wilson with one of the show’s main premises — more power! — is to just combine the two.

First, you acknowledge that Wilson is dead.

Second, you have Tim go off the rails a bit — not like that could ever happen in real life.

And, third … you have off-the-rails Tim not be able to cope with Wilson’s death, dig up his old friend, hook him to a power source, and reanimate.

Yeah, it’s awful.

But it could turn this reboot into a real, ahem, powerhouse of dark comedy, and it would make every episode feel like Halloween.

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