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With the "official" start of the fall TV season now in full swing, audiences are in for quite a few changes compared to how things looked in the 2016-2017 season. For one, Tim Allen's successful sitcom Last Man Standing won't be found anywhere but reruns on streaming, with ABC having cancelled the show earlier this year. And now that everyone's had time to deal with how that went down, Allen has opened up about how he feels about the cancellation, and why he thinks it happened.
You couldn't have handled this worse. Not for me, because I'll survive, but there's 190 of us that worked there. They didn't let 'em know until late June. It was handled very badly. To me, it was handled badly. Second biggest show, [ABC] hadn't won a Friday night in 15 years. They put us out to pasture on Friday and we won Friday. Big night for us. Big night for them. I would have put Roseanne after us. Launch Roseanne, launch any show you want. Use us just to launch shows, if nothing else. It's hard, I have no idea why they did what they did.
Perhaps wisely, Tim Allen criticized the cancellation decision itself, rather than laying a verbal smackdown on anyone in particular at ABC, the network that gave him 14 seasons as a sitcom lead. (Obviously Home Improvement is included there.) Never good to permanently burn bridges in the entertainment industry, after all. But, as he said, it's not really all about him anyway.
When TV shows get cancelled, fans tend to only think about the big stars getting wiped off the primetime schedule, without passing on much thought to all of the crew members and other unseen talent that put their efforts into making a show a reality. And while Tim Allen clearly wasn't happy with the cancellation in general, he was also critical of the manner in which that decision happened, since ABC did indeed make the call late in the game, after many blindly expected a renewal for Season 7 to happen. There's no denying that Last Man Standing remained popular when it got shifted to Friday nights, and a decent portion of Allen's fanbase would likely have tuned in weekly if the show aired on 3 a.m. on Sunday mornings.
In the aftermath of the cancellation, which received quite a bit more blowback than sitcom farewells usually bring in, ABC explained the decision largely by saying that shifting away from comedies on Friday nights meant that Last Man Standing wouldn't have a home. Of course, Tm Allen has his own take on it that skews a bit closer to questions and accusations that some fans have had, with political motivations factoring in. While appearing on the always excellent Norm Macdonald talk show Norm Macdonald Live!, here's what else Allen had to say about why he thinks Last Man Standing came to an early end.
I always wanted elements of Last Man Standing to be like Archie Bunker. Archie Bunker pushed boundaries. And Carroll O'Connor was not that guy at all. I'm a version of that guy. But I said there's nothing more dangerous to me, especially in this climate, than a funny, likable conservative [character]. That was the most dangerous thing, because he's mitigated on the show by a family of women that had difference of opinions, but the guy was a likable guy. He really was a principle guy, just about work and ethics and all this stuff.
Everyone's mileage will vary with an answer like that, of course. And all I'll say about it is that I doubt that All in the Family would last as long on the modern TV-scape as it did back in the 1970s. But if Norman Lear's reboot plan actually comes to fruition, we'll get a chance to test that out. (Plus, how wild would it be if they got Tim Allen to play Archie Bunker?)
Though it looked like Last Man Standing might get a new home on another network such as CMT, financial issues kept that from going down. So for now, we'll be waiting to see whether or not Tim Allen will find a new TV home in the future. (Galaxy Quest show, anyone?) In the meantime, head to our fall TV premiere schedule to see what else is on the way.