For Whom The Belch Tolls


They say the only things certain in life are death and taxes. How about change? Times change, people change. Whether we like it or not. Hell, I’ve been using the same oven mitt for twelve years. Changes are happening in the world as well as our very own. Maybe you had a best friend. All relationships go through a change at one point or another. It’s inevitable. Life happens. Maybe one person is hanging onto the past, while the other has moved on. And it’s not always a question of who changed, but who hasn’t. Often times it’s unsettling, especially when you see an old best friend you haven’t seen in years. You always wonder, is the magic still there? Or have you both grown apart? You find yourself wondering, do we have anything left in common, other than the past? One thing’s for sure: it’s not easy saying goodbye.


If you’re lucky, you had a best friend at some time in your life. A best friend you hung out with, grew up with. Are you still best friends with that person? Or have times changed? The following story is something many of us can relate to. I know I sure can. It’s about two best friends, the good old days and the passing of time. It’s my favorite episode from one of my favorite shows, Home Improvement.

One [or two -Ed.] of the best things to come from it!
One [or two -Ed.] of the best things to come from it!
The original Tool Girl was Pamela Anderson
The original Tool Girl was Pamela Anderson
So popular it even had its own (terrible) game!
So popular it even had its own (terrible) game!



Home Improvement was one of the most watched sitcoms of the 1990s. Debuting just one month after the Super Nintendo did in the US, the family sitcom comedy exploded into American households coast to coast on September 17, 1991. The show centered around Tim Taylor, an accident-prone father of three out in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. He also was the host of a lowly rated cable tool show, TOOL TIME, where in each episode audiences were almost guaranteed one of the following: Tim cracks on Al Borland (Tim’s assistant), Tim cracks on Al’s hefty mom, or Tim causes an accident. Sometimes all three. TOOL TIME played nicely as a show within a show. Back home, Tim’s plucky wife Jill held down the fort while neighbor Wilson Wilson (yes, Wilson Wilson) imparted much of his vast wisdom to Tim in almost every episode, with the amusing gimmick of the audience never being able to see Wilson’s face. As the series evolved, Jill goes back to college to gain her Master’s Degree, the boys grow up and adopt their own trademarks. Young Mark becomes a goth-type, middle son Randy becomes an outspoken environmentalist and Brad becomes entrenched with his blossoming soccer career. Meanwhile, Tim goes through the various stages of being a father, husband, employee, brother and friend. The sitcom ruled the ’90s, winning numerous awards and nominations. The final episode aired on May 25, 1999. Home Improvement ran for eight seasons airing a total of 205 shows. To this day, reruns can be caught on syndicated TV, DVD box sets have been released and fans still regard it fondly as one of their favorite sitcoms of all time.


What accounted for the show’s mega popularity among viewers? Sure, people got a kick out of Tim blowing things up and knocking out Bob Vila with a 4×8, but there was more to it than that. All the characters were immensely likable. You had the never-ending philosophical wisdom of wacky Wilson, Al’s wonderful rapport with Tim, rock-bottom Benny, and of course, who could forget the gorgeous Debbe Dunning as the Tool Girl? Most importantly, the show was funny and it had heart. Some episodes were plain silly while others dealt with serious life matters yet managed to do it in classic Home Improvement fashion: handling it with the right touch of sensitivity while maintaining the lighthearted sense of humor the show was so well known for. Episodes about drugs, cancer and death are only a few examples. This was nothing new among TV sitcoms (Full House and Saved By The Bell had already dealt with such issues) but Home Improvement added its own spin in successful fashion. It was a classic sitcom and the last one I ever really cared about.


"Well Tim, I'm reminded of the 16th century poet..."
“Well Tim, I’m reminded of the 16th century poet…”

Besides Tim, Wilson was my favorite character. Imagine living next to him and having the luxury of hearing various 14th century quotes and anecdotes to lift you out of any sticky situation. Now that’s a neighbor right there. He also had the ingenious gimmick of always having his face obscured. Usually by the fence but later on the producers found more creative methods that ranged from silverware to even medieval knight helmets!

Somehow he was always at the right place, right time
Somehow he was always at the right place, right time
Wherever trouble was brewing, Wilson was there
Wherever trouble was brewing, Wilson was there
Thanks for the memories, Earl Hindman
Thanks for the memories, Earl Hindman


Introducing STU CUTLER
Introducing STU CUTLER

Christopher McDonald makes a special one time guest appearance in this Home Improvement episode. You might remember him. He’s been in over 80 films and usually plays the devious bad guys or pompous assholes. Brief résumé:

  • Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore
  • Tappy Tibbons from Requiem for a Dream
  • Thelma & Louise
  • Grumpy Old Men
  • Portrayed Joe DiMaggio in ESPN’s original The Bronx Is Burning
  • Voice actor (Iron Giant, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond)

This is a story of two old best friends…

The passing of time…

And that inevitable mistress we call change.

Whether we wish for change to happen or not.

Always has, and by God, always will.


Original air date: January 14, 1992 (almost 25 years!)
Original air date: January 14, 1992 (almost 25 years!)


“Now remember what I told you. Plant your elbow inside your knee like this. Alright, and don’t just lift your arm, pull the weight to your shoulder. GOOD, good. Now exhale. Try grunting, it helps.”


“Good job. You gonna be real strong if you keep this up.”

“I wanna be the strongest one on the football team.”


“I can see it now. Bradley Taylor, the muscular son of Tim Taylor carrying the ball, he’s got sixty people dragging behind him. 30, the 20, the 10 — OH — he fell because his muscles are just TOO big!”

"Hey Brad, your muscles look really big..."
“Hey Brad, your muscles look really big…”

“Think so?”

“Yeah, the one IN YOUR HEAD.”

"Easy boys... I'll give you haircuts..."
“Easy boys… I’ll give you haircuts…”
"WHOA. Muscle Beach right here in my own garage"
“WHOA. Muscle Beach right here in my own garage”


“Wrong honey, this is the Tim Taylor Testosterone hour. I got an idea. Let’s flex for her. Drop the weights. Alright guys, prepare yourself, ready…

Egyptian Biception!

"Wow, incredible, ten points"
“Wow, incredible, ten points”

“Well stick around and I’ll smear you with bacon grease.”


“Tim, don’t forget to pick up some videos tonight after work.”

“Yeah Dad, how about we get Bury Me Again?”

“Hey NO!  It’s family night!”

“Yeah yeah honey, it’s family night… oooh how about… Bayonet Hell?”

“Hey, it’s my turn to pick. You’re going to get Sound of Music.”


*phone rings*

“I’ll get it.”

“Family movie…”

“How about we get Fang Woman? She had a family”
"She ATE her family"
“She ATE her family”
"What's the matter?"
“What’s the matter?”


“Calling from Akron?”

“No, he’s in town.”


DO NOT invite that slug over here tonight.”

“Come on… he’s one of my best friends.”

"Hey Puke Face! How's it hanging? And DEEP, haha!"
“Hey Puke Face! How’s it hanging? And DEEP, haha!”
"So they let ya back in town. We gotta see each other"
“So they let ya back in town. We gotta see each other”
"Jill would love to see ya..."
“Jill would love to see ya…”


"This afternoon? Oh, uh..."
“This afternoon? Oh, uh…”

“… I gotta work. Be working all day… uh huh… Come over there… yeah… yeah it’ll be great… uh huh… Not even with your lips, haha. Alright, see ya then.”


“Please say he’s not coming over tonight cause it’s Family Night, and the chili, cornbread, the Sound of Music.”

“I didn’t invite him OVER. I said I’ll meet him after work. We’ll go have a couple beers. I’ll come home after that.”


“Yes. Why are you so hard on Stu?”


“The last time he was here he shook up a beer and sprayed it all over the family room.”

“Foam fight. He likes to clown around.”

“His idea of clowning around is drinking and making body noises.”

“So? He likes to drink beer and make music.”

“Playing ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ in his armpit is not musical.”

“You ever tried that?”


“That’s it from me, Tim the Tool Man Taylor, reminding you to get those storm windows and doors in early… CAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW, when that storm’s gonna come rollin’ through. See ya next time.”

*AUDIENCE  (of 16 people) CHEERS*
*AUDIENCE (of 16 people) CHEERS*
"Good show, Al"
“Good show, Al”


“Hey buddy! Good to see you!”

“And you too!”

"See you Monday, Tim"
“See you Monday, Tim”

“Wait a minute, Al. Come over here, c’mon. This wild dog here was my college roommate. Stu Cutler, Al Borland.”

"Hi Stu"
“Hi Stu”
"Hey Al. Nice beard... had chili for lunch, huh?"
“Hey Al. Nice beard… had chili for lunch, huh?”
"No, I didn't, Stu"
“No I didn’t, Stu”


"SO, gotta work with this JERK huh, Al?"
“SO, gotta work with this JERK huh, Al?”


"Yes I do, Stu"
“Yes I do, Stu”
"... well, it was nice meeting ya"
“… well, it was nice meeting ya”


"Uh, great sense of humor!" "Thank you"
“Uh, GREAT sense of humor!”  “Thank you”
"He's serious but he knows his way around the shop"
“He’s serious but he knows his way around the shop”


“Kill me, juuust kill me now. She looks even better in person. Introduce me.”


“Why not?”

“Because she’s a coworker, a good friend of mine and you’re nothing but dry hog phlegm.”

“Watch my move.”

"Hi, Stu Cutler"
“Hi, Stu Cutler”

“Bye Tim, see you Monday.”

“Bye Lisa.”


“Ahhh boy. It’s good to see you STILL have it, Cutler. She’s not your type, man. SHE CAN SEE. Now come on, let’s go down and get a beer. I’ll get changed up and go.”

"Your house?"
“Your house?”

“I thought we go to the place on the corner we like.”

“You’re not gonna take me home to dinner?”

“I thought maybe just you and me go out together.”

"Wait, now I can't come to town without seeing Jill Pill"
“Wait, now I can’t come to town without seeing Jill Pill”

“She’ll understand. It’ll be like a guys’ night out.”

"Wait, so you don't want me to come to your house"
“Wait, so you don’t want me to come to your house”

“No, of course not, you’re ALWAYS welcomed at my house.”


"... YEAH, WHY NOT!"

“Jill will be so surprised to see you.”

“I can’t wait to see her face!”

“Me neither…”


“Jill, Jill!”

“Oh good you’re home. You got rid of Stu fast.”

“I didn’t get rid of him — he’s parking his car.”


“Jill, he really misses you. He likes you.”

“No he doesn’t, he just likes to make fun of me and crush beer cans on his head.


“Well, they gotta be crushed if you gonna recycle them… aww, I couldn’t get rid of him. I couldn’t say no. He’ll just come over, have a beer and that’s it.”

“Well OK, but if he crosses the line I’m personally going to throw him out.”

“What’s crossing the line?”

"Behavior that would be classified as SUBHUMAN"
“Behavior that would be classified as SUBHUMAN”
"Can't you be a little more flexible than that?"
“Can’t you be a little more flexible than that?”

“After ONE beer, he is GONE.”


“Beer, Stu?”


“Come on in, buddy!”

"Gosh you look good. You've lost some weight"
“Gosh you look good. Now you’ve lost some weight”

“Yeah, I have. Thanks.”

"Now THERE'S a very human compliment"
“Now THERE’S a very human compliment”
"So what's the goal, another 10?"
“So what’s the goal, another 10?”
"Tim, if you hadn't married Jill, I would have"
“Tim, if you hadn’t married Jill, I would have”
"Ha, now there's something to think about, honey"
“Ha, now there’s something to think about, honey”
"Weeell... life would sure be different"
“Weeell… life would sure be different”


“Well it sure would. Timmy, you’d be visiting us tonight. And Jill would be a satisfied woman.”

"Almost done with that beer, Stu?"
“Almost done with that beer, Stu?”

“Haven’t even cracked it. So, where’s the boys?”

“They’re across the street.”

“Well, get them over here Jill. I gotta see those wild puppies!”

“Well, they wouldn’t want to miss the Stu-ster. Brad, Randy, Mark!”


“Hey come on!”

“Ah I wasn’t gonna do it, Timmy. Just wanted to see that look on Jill’s face…”

"Oh yup, there's that look right there!"
“Oh yup, there’s that look right there!”



“Hey Stu!”

“The Bradster! You guys are getting so big! Pretty soon you’ll be able to take the old man.”

"We already can"
“We already can”

“Uncle Stu!!”

“Marky! God you’re getting so big and strong.”

“We’ve been lifting Dad’s weights, wanna see them?”

“Well sure, where are they?”

“In the garage, come on.”


“Daddy’s been posing for mommy.”

"Posing as what? A MAN??"
“Posing as what? A MAN??”


“Did he cross the line? You gotta admit, it’s an interesting way to begin Family Night huh?”




She looked good,
she looked fine,
she looked good
she looked fine,
and I nearly lost my mind!

Oh Taylor! Think quick!”

*Stu tosses crushed beer can to Tim to be recycled*
*Stu tosses crushed beer can to Tim to be recycled*
"It's official, that beer can is gone"
“It’s official — that beer can is gone”

“I’m way ahead of ya. I’ll get him to go.”


“Hey guys, you go inside and help set the table. I’m gonna talk to Uncle Stu.”

“Oh not so fast poser. I got 150 pounds on here. Boys, I don’t think the old man can bench press this.”

“Show him, Dad.”

“Yeah, do it.”

“Spot me.”


"... Were you gonna do this sometime today?"
“… Were you gonna do this sometime today?”
"He's turning red. I hope his eyes don't pop out"
“He’s turning red. I hope his eyes don’t pop out”

“Are you OK Dad?”

“It’s easy when you use the right form.”

"Are you gonna cry?"
“Are you gonna cry?”
"NO I'M NOT GUNNA CRY! Go set the table"
“NO I’M NOT GONNA CRY! Go set the table”
"Haha, you didn't strain anything there, did ya?"
“Haha, you didn’t strain anything there, did ya?”


“Hey, remember how we used to go to the gym, practically kill ourselves trying to impress Donna Gilmore?”


“I haven’t seen or heard from her in years.”


“Hey remember, you and me and Donna driving around in our ’68 Impala, top down, her blonde hair blowing in the wind… gosh she was a beauty.”

"Sure was. WHAT A CAR"
“Sure was. WHAT A CAR


“That was a 327 small-block, man. It had an Edelbrock Holley 850 dual feed on that thing. It had tubular headers, glass packs. Chromed the kanuter valve, hahaha!”

“Hey, you know what I got?”

“I know what you got!”

“Picture of that Impala!”

"HOOD UP..."

“There’s that screaming machine.”

“This would be a classic today if it weren’t for that little fire we had, and I know I turned that fuel filter on. It wasn’t my fault!”

"HA... yeah we've had some good times haven't we"
“HA… yeah we’ve had some good times haven’t we”
"Yeah we have"
“Yeah we have”


“Don’t you wish we could go BACK… live those days all over again?

"They were great... but today's real good, ya know?"
“They were great… but today’s real good, ya know?”


“Just look me straight in the eye, and tell me that wasn’t the BEST time of your life.”


“… It was good… it was good… listen Stu, Jill and I were talking, tonight’s Family Night — “


“Wait, you’ve already made me feel like family. You know what we need here? Another beer!”

"Awww, I'm all out! I should have thought of that..."
“Awww, I’m all out! I should have thought of that…”

“Hey no prob — I’ll just go get some more.”

"Whoa Stu, are you leaving?"  "Yeah"
“Whoa Stu, are you leaving?” “Yeah”
"Well, SO nice to see you. I hope we can do it again"
“Well, SO nice to see you. I hope we can do it again”
"Well let's do it again in 15! I'm just getting some beer"
“Well let’s do it again in 15! I’m just getting some beer”



"Jill, that pile of human vermin, best friend I ever had"
“Jill, that pile of human vermin, best friend I ever had”
"Stu, you should write greeting cards"
“Stu, you should write greeting cards”

“Ha… oh wait… *burp* AH, there it was.”


I told you I’d get him to go after one beer...”

"I didn't say he wouldn't be coming back..."
“… I didn’t say he wouldn’t be coming back…”


“I know we used to be friends in college and everything, but do you, um, like Stu now?”

“I know he can be a pain, but we shared a lot of good times.”

“Well, if you just met him today for the first time, do you think that you would become friends?”



“He’s a lot of laughs.”

“I guess I just don’t get it.”

"... it's a guy thing"
“… it’s a guy thing”
"Hi-ho neighbor!"
“Hi-ho neighbor!”

“What you doin’?”

“OH just pounding myself some horseshoes.”

“Wouldn’t a pair of loafers be more comfortable?”


“No no no, Tim. These are shoes I toss. Look at this. Perfect weight. Perfect balance. Aerodynamically correct.”

“Oh. OWWW!

"And very VERY hot"
“And very VERY hot”
"Oh how I love this game. What it is, is ALL in the wrist"
“Oh how I love this game. What it is, is ALL in the wrist”
“Wilson, can I ask you something?”

“Make your best pitch, Timmy.”

“I got this old friend in town, and I always think we’re going to have a lot of fun, but instead we always talk about all the fun we used to have.”

“Well there’s nothing wrong with reminiscing, Tim.”

“But he thinks I’m the same guy I was 15 years ago.”

“Mmm hmm, mmm hmm, mmm hmm.”

"And I try to be that guy, but, I'm really not"
“And I try to be that guy, but, I’m really not”

“Well it sounds like he’s spending all his time looking backwards, and you’re spending yours looking forward.”


“That’s it, I can’t keep up with this guy. The THOUGHT of crushing a beer can on my head makes my butt QUIVER.”

"Well that's why I gave it up, Tim"
“Well that’s why I gave it up, Tim”

“I don’t know what to do about him.”

“Well it sounds to me like you’re having a hard time saying goodbye.”

"He's been one of my best friends for 15 years"
“He’s been one of my best friends for 15 years”
"Or was he your best friend... 15 YEARS AGO?"
“Is he, Tim? Or was he your best friend… 15 years ago?”



“You see Tim, I believe it was St. Paul who said, When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I THOUGHT as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

"Arr arr arr"
“Arr arr arr”


“Hey! Guess who I ran into down at the store? Mike FORSHAY and TINO!

"Hey, TINO... what are those guys up to now?"
“Oh, Tino and Forshay. What are those guys up to now?”


“Oh they’re still a couple wild dogs. They’re going down to Club Piranha and get crazy. I told them you and I’ll meet them there.”

“I’m not going to Club Piranha.”


“But you have to go! You remember back in college the four of us stayed up 36 hours and then drove halfway to Mexico City, with the emergency brake on?”


“I’m not going out tonight. Stu, I thought we were gonna stay here. You know, watch TV, the video, chili with the kids.”

“Oh right, the family thing… NO PROBLEM. I’ll call Tino and Forshay, they can get a keg of beer and come OVER HERE!

"NO Stu, no"
“NO Stu, no”
"This is TINO and FORSHAY.  It'll be like old times"
“Hey this is TINO and FORSHAY. It’ll be like old times”


“Tell you what, why don’t you go down to Club Piranha, you hang out with those guys.”

"Without you? COME ON, it won't be the SAME!"
“Without you? COME ON, it won’t be the SAME!
"Stu, I don't think it IS the same"
“Stu, I don’t think it IS the same”




"Dad, dinner will be ready, can I turn on the video?"
“Dad, dinner will be ready, can I turn on the video?”

“Not now.”



"What are you watching?"  "Sound of Music..."
“What are you watching?” “Sound of Music…”

… Sound of Music. Maybe I will go down and meet Forshay and Tino. Would I be a real jerk if I skipped dinner and kind of headed out?”

“No, not at all, skip.”

“I just don’t want to disappoint Jill.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’ll be rough but I’ll be able to smooth it out.”

"Oh how lovely, we'll have dinner music"
“Oh how lovely, we’ll have dinner music”
"Come on Uncle Stu, sit by us!"
“Come on Uncle Stu, sit by us!”

“Well buddies, heh, I gotta be heading out.”

“Jill, I know this is going to be a tremendous disappointment to all of you. Stu can’t stay for dinner or the movie.”



“I ran into some old buddies. We’re just gonna go out, have some uh, coffee, and talk.”


“Bye Jill.”

“Goodbye, it was nice to see you.”

“Good to see you too.”

"You be good, huh?" "Yeah! Bye Uncle Stu!"
“You be good, huh?” “Yeah! Bye Uncle Stu!”
"If you, Tino and Forshay get crazy, call a cab alright?"
“If you, Tino and Forshay get crazy, call a cab alright?”


“Always do… hey, next time I’m in town, I’ll give you a little more warning when I call.”

"Do that"
“Do that”
"We'll still get together, hang out, HAVE SOME LAUGHS"
“We’ll still get together, hang out, HAVE SOME LAUGHS”
"... Just like the old days eh"
“… Just like the old days eh”
"Just like the good old days!"
“Just like the good old days!”
"Hey, tell you what, keep the beer"
“Hey, tell you what, keep the beer”

“Go ahead.”


“See ya.”

“See ya.”

"OK dad, the movie's ready"
“OK dad, the movie’s ready”

“OK, alright, everybody can see?”


“Wait, I’ll need my box of tissues.”

"This isn't Sound of Music, this is... Bayonet Hell!"
“This isn’t Sound of Music — this is… Bayonet Hell!”


“Last time we showed you how to install an aluminum storm window on an existing wooden frame. Today, we hung a storm door on an existing wood frame.”


“Now, the important thing about putting a door in is hanging it, cause if it’s not hung well, then you got a problem. Right Al?”



“When installing a door, you gotta make it fit exactly like it’s supposed to. So make sure your hinge is aligned with the king stud.”



“It’s also very important to remember that doors often change with age. The older a door gets, the more warped it becomes.”

"And sometimes we forget... things change with age..."
“And sometimes we forget… things change with age…”


“SO, remember, check those doors, as they may not fit like you remember.”





I was only a kid when I first saw this episode. It wasn’t until years later, in my 20’s, that I realized what a poignant and powerful episode this is. We’ve all been there at some point. We had a best friend from long ago that we kind of lost touch with over the years. Then, one day seemingly out of the blue, circumstances bring our lives back together again. Sometimes it’s a natural seamless transition. We carry on as if we never left. But other times, the past is all we have in common, and we carry on without that person ever entering our lives again. You never know which way it swings. Personally, I’ve had both. Thankfully, my childhood best friend, Nelson, and I still keep in touch today. We don’t talk like we once used to, but the thing about our friendship is we can go months without contact but as soon as we do, it’s like we never left. Those friendships are the best. So, remember, change is constant. Sometimes it seems to happen slowly. Other times, it comes in crashing waves. And that things and people definitely do change with age. Like Tim did, the important thing to keep in mind is knowing who you really are today.