Tim Allen retools act with Nancy Travis for 'Last Man Standing'


If you loved "Home Improvement" chances are, you'll like "Last Man Standing," ABC's sitcom starring Tim Allen premiering Tuesday, Oct. 11.

It's a lot like his old hit series, and Allen plays Mike, another guy's guy. He has a smart, loving wife, Vanessa (Nancy Travis), and instead of three boys, he now has three daughters -- a 20-year-old single mom (Alexandra Krosney, "Surviving Suburbia") who lives at home with her toddler son; a 17-year-old flighty fashionista (Molly Ephraim, "Paranormal Activity 2") who dates a metrosexual; and a 13-year-old athlete (Kaitlyn Dever, "Justified").

"I liked playing the last persona," Allen says of "Tool Man" Tim Taylor. "If I could do 'Home Improvement,' I would have done it. I wanted three daughters was all I told the network. I wanted to be funny in real time. I wanted to investigate three daughters. And I wanted it in Denver because I wanted to play the Midwest/West."

Travis, who recently played another loving, smart wife on TBS' "The Bill Engvall Show," says, "I've perfected it, I guess. I like playing a wife and mother. She is a geologist and working for an oil company. It'll be interesting politically, emotionally."

"I think it's also a better depiction of what families are today," Travis says.

Viewers are comfortable with Allen as a funny dad, and he likens that familiarity to how he feels being a fan of Jerry Bruckheimer and James Cameron films: When he goes to see them, he knows what to expect.

Mike works for an outdoor sporting goods company, for which he had traveled the world and shot photos for its catalog. Since the catalog is not as popular in the digital age, his boss, Ed (Hector Elizondo), has grounded him from traveling and put Mike -- more comfortable in the world of rifles and crossbows than webcams and Twitter -- in charge of the company's online campaign.

Mike now has to learn a lot more about his family, and we learn that no one would accuse him of being particularly PC or overly evolved as a feminist. Allen, not in character, explains that he likes a woman to cook for him while he is quite happy maintaining the house and cars.

"There are a lot of guys who are clueless as to why anybody would be judging that or you are a Cro-Magnon or you get pushed in a corner," Allen says. "I am around younger guys that are emerging masculinists; they want to reassert themselves, and they don't want to go to baby showers with women. They come off sounding like a religious zealot, first discovering religion."

Allen says that his character isn't a misogynist. Explaining his take on genders, Allen talks about his daughter and wife, saying that he knows men who sign on for filthy jobs -- such as cleaning out sewage tanks -- which, he says, women don't want.

"A man's point of view is very skewed," Allen says. "It's not like he doesn't care, but OK -- my daughter likes cars, like I do, but not in the same way. I don't pretend to, but she has a very strong, extremely strong sense of shoe style and purses, and women like it and I don't. If you love women and want to get in their good graces, learn how to buy your wife a good pair of shoes. I can appreciate what that does for her and how she likes that because women base a little more importance on appearances and beauty than men do."

In the pilot, the family dynamics are changing.

"Like any marriage, there are ups and downs, and they disagree on a lot of things," Travis says. "But it worked well because he's been away a lot, and now she's going off to work, and he's home with the girls and the grandson."

This sets up Mike for lines such as this, discussing soccer: "It's just Europe's covert war for the hearts and minds of America's kids."

When his middle daughter is crying, she wants Mom. When Dad offers to help, she responds, "I want good advice." "I gave your sister plenty of good advice," Dad says. "Is that when she came home with a tattoo or from her prom pregnant?"

When Mike arrives at work -- grandson in tow because he would not leave him at the day care center, which was too PC for Mike -- he revels in the store with weapons. "It's great to be back in the sanctuary," he says. "No hair dryers, no tears, no citrus body wash. It smells like balls in here."

It's at work, and in promoting the sporting goods online, where Mike's voice resonates loudest.

"What happened to men?" Mike says to the webcam. "Men used to build cities just to tear them down."

Now Mike will experience the world of minivans, schools and dealing with teenage girls. The premise could be enough to keep fans of Allen -- remember, he is the voice of Buzz Lightyear -- tuning in. If not, Allen is prepared.

"I understand if it isn't edgy enough, maybe people want something more vicious," Allen says. "It isn't vicious or snarky. My family is not snarky to each other. I am so OK with any way this goes."

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