In 2011 ABC slotted “Last Man Standing” into its fall TV line-up, welcoming back Tim Allen to his old network – one that he practically owned back in the ’90s with his previous family sitcom hit, “Home Improvement”. What Allen hasn’t been able to own, however, are Emmy voters.
It’s been 21 long years since Allen’s first and only Emmy nomination for Best Comedy Actor for his portrayal of family man Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. Now, as Mike Baxter on “Last Man Standing,” he hasn’t missed a beat, doing some of his best work yet.
In a recent episode (“Parenting Bud”), we’re reminded not only of Allen’s strong comedic timing, but also his range as an actor. Mike’s father was assaulted and robbed, but brushes off the incident as a “one-time thing.” With that, we get to see how Mike lets his emotions, not as a father himself, but as a son caring for a parent, come into play. There are several touching and comedic moments that Allen tackles like a pro.
In the last decade, only two of the 55 Emmy nominees for Best Comedy Actor have been for a sitcom family man: the late John Ritter in “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” (2004), and Ray Romano for “Everybody Loves Raymond” (2005). You have to go back 12 years to find the last winner — that was Romano in 2002.
Since then, Emmy voters only have TV eyes for single-camera comedies. And it doesn’t even seem to help that TV critics and fans have referred to Allen’s character as a modern day Archie Bunker — the “All In The Family” patriarch who won Carroll O’Connor four Emmys in the 1970s.
There is still a small glimmer of hope for Allen, though. The fickle academy took years to recognize one of its eventual perennial Emmy winners, “Everybody Loves Raymond.” And Allen’s show overall has improved each year, even with those bold moves after the first season of re-casting the eldest daughter (with the wonderful Amanda Fuller), aging her son by three years, and bringing on TV producing vet Tim Doyle (“Still Standing,” “Rules of Engagement,” “Ellen”) as the new showrunner.
ABC even did some re-tooling of its own, moving it from a cushy Tuesday slot to the “kiss of death” (as it’s known in the TV world) Friday slot. Little did ABC know that its core audience would follow Allen and the show to Friday and make it an extremely rare Friday “anchor” show.
I’d dare anyone to watch “Last Man Standing” episodes like “The Help” or “Tasers” and not want to visit with the Baxters each week. And I’d double-dare Emmy voters to pay attention as Allen once again rules the small screen, and not feel the need to give him his second-ever Emmy nomination.
Does he actually have a shot at earning an Emmy nomination for Best Comedy Actor? Let’s analyze the pros and cons of this Gold Derby Emmy MVP.
Tim Allen is Tim Allen. He’s a star of the small and big screen. No matter the show or network, he’s always on Emmy’s radar.
“Everybody Loves Raymond” took three years to garner its first batch of nominations, this season of “Last Man Standing” was its third.
As much of a blessing as Allen and “Last Man Standing” have been for ABC’s Friday night line-up, Allen will need plenty of prayers for Emmy folks to pay attention to a Friday show.
Allen is on a sitcom that doesn’t air on CBS. For a three-camera comedy to get any attention in the past decade, it has to be part of the CBS slate (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men”), or it might as well not exist with Emmy voters.
ABC and the Comedy Actor category do not like each other. Dating back to 1965, only nine times has the winner been from an ABC show. And since 2000, only three ABC stars have been in the race: Michael J. Fox, who won in 2000 for “Spin City”; Ritter in 2004 and Lee Pace in 2008 for “Pushing Daisies.”
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