Reunited and it feels so good to watch Tim Allen and Richard Karn take a seat together behind a workbench to guide us through their new hour-long competition series Assembly Required, premiering Tuesday on the HISTORY Channel.
The show brings together a group of “makers” from across the country to build things with only their bare hands, the tools and materials lying around their own garages, and the odds and ends sent over via crate by the show’s producers. Each episode features two challenges with three contestants competing in the first mini-round, and only two moving on to the hefty build that comes with a $5,000 prize. Allen and Karn test the final products and then judge the winner based on the quality of the item, the creativity of its design and how well it actually works in a real-world setting. This season, the contestants receive assignments to assemble a supped-up fire extinguisher, a treadmill and a water fountain.
Here’s three things you need to know before tuning in. Bring on the man grunts!
1. This Isn’t a Home Improvement reboot
Tim Allen and Richard Karn reunite onscreen as themselves, not as the beloved characters they played on the hit ‘90s sitcom Home Improvement. As the hosts of the fictional “Tool Time” show-within-a-show on the ABC comedy, Allen portrayed Tim Taylor – an overzealous and accident-prone handyman consumed with juicing the power on all of his projects – while Karn embodied the soft-spoken and put-upon Al Borland. Those personalities mildly carry over on Assembly Required – especially in Allen’s case – but Karn speaks up and proves his sparring abilities. Allen deserves top billing, of course, but Karn’s edgy sweetness neutralizes some of his co-host’s harsher tendencies.
2. No More Sexy Assistants
Pamela Anderson became familiar to TV audiences as the “Tool Time Girl” during the first two seasons of Home Improvement. Not much more than a glorified assistant, the character’s main purpose fell under the category of eye candy. My, how times have changed! On Assembly Required, the lone female is the brains of the operation. While Allen and Karn riff, woodworking DIY YouTube star April Wilkerson drops gems of expert know-how on the audience and answers the hosts’ questions while also making it harder for the contestants with “April’s Secret Challenge” – a sabotaged piece of equipment on each build that the contestants must discover and repair.
3. Contestants Compete Together…But Apart
Reality-competition shows usually bring the contestants together in a fancy studio furnished with every random component of the challenge (have you ever seen more varieties of sprinkles than in the backroom of a cooking show?). Assembly Required films each episode’s three contestants in their own garages as they complete the challenges assigned by Allen using the items the show ships out to them in large crates. This unboxing component adds an extra element of fun for the viewer. Surely a ramification of the pandemic’s upheaval, keeping the rivals in their home environment allows each one to bring their unique flair to the competition – not to mention inadvertently rewarding the pack rats.
Assembly Required premieres Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 10 pm ET on HISTORY.