If former fan favorites like Roseanne and Will & Grace can stage a comeback, why can’t the same happen for mega-hits like Home Improvement and Frasier?
It’s not as simple as we would like to think. EW has learned there was talk about reviving Home Improvement, the ’90s comedy that starred Tim Allen as a stereotypical dad who worships his tools and sports. Disney CEO Bob Iger was keen on bringing back the comedy for fans to stream online, a source reveals, but the deal never got off the ground because of an ongoing battle over the show’s $1 billion-plus profits. The creators of the series first filed their complaint in 2013 and it’s not over yet.
It would have been a remarkable feat to convince Allen to return to ABC since he still carries a grudge over the 2017 cancellation of Last Man Standing, his most recent family sitcom for the network. Allen believes the pink slip came because his character was a “likable conservative.” The comedy’s final season averaged 8.1 million viewers and a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49.
Last Man Standing was the “second biggest show, [ABC] hadn’t won a Friday night in 15 years,” Allen said on Norm Macdonald Live last year. 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. That’s what I would’ve done, just 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.”
The chance of a Frasier comeback, however, seems more promising. EW confirmed star Kelsey Grammer and the cast had been talking about a reunion. But the February death of John Mahoney, who played the beloved father of Frasier (Grammer) and Niles (David Hyde Pierce), has cast a pall on the idea — and for good reason.
“The idea has been discussed and certainly people who were in favor of it loved the idea of John being a part of it because he was so much of the balance of the show,” says co-executive Producer Christopher Lloyd, who talked to EW about Mahoney’s passing in February. “You have these two stuffy intellectuals and a dyed-in-the-wool man of the people. That just provided so much balance in the show so it would be a little hard imagining to do it without him.”
That said, Lloyd thinks Mahoney would have wanted NBC and the cast to go on without him.
“John was such a generous soul,” Lloyd says. “He would be the first person to say, ‘Oh course you should go ahead and do it.’ Even if it came up before [his passing], he would be the first person to root everybody forward in doing it.”
In the meantime, another reunion is well underway at CBS. The network gave a series order to Murphy Brown, which will bring back Candice Bergen and former cast members Faith Ford (Corky Sherwood), Joe Regalbuto (Frank Fontana), and Grant Shaud (Miles Silverberg).
The show’s creator, Diane English, will head up the writers’ room again. The original series aired for 10 years from 1988 to 1998.