Richard Karn and Tim Allen have a working relationship that goes back decades.
The pair worked together for eight seasons on “Home Improvement.”
Karn and Allen are back on air together in the History Channel’s 10-episode series “Assembly Required,” which premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23.
“I’ve only seen a rough cut, and they did a really great job in editing down our rambling,” Karn says of the show. “Getting back together with Tim is comfortable. We’ve grown up a lot. Coming back together, it’s like there’s been no time in between.”
Each week, “Assembly Required” features three makers who compete from their own home shops to create insane builds with their bare hands while both Allen and Karn pop in virtually to deliver colorful commentary and oversee their work across two challenge rounds.
“One of the challenges was that WiFi isn’t as strong in every corner of America,” Karn says. “We had to figure that out. It was time-consuming at the beginning. One of the silver linings is that each contestant got to take part from the comfort of their own space.”
Resident expert – and YouTube sensation – April Wilkerson serves as the go-to source on the “how and why” of each build, breaking down the complexities and giving the audience a bird’s-eye view of what our challengers are up against.
Karn says the idea for the show came out of the idea that neither he nor Allen likes to throw things out.
“We have a garage full of items that are missing one piece,” he says. “We put it in the garage for repair, and we usually forget about it.”
Karn and Allen also got the opportunity to have Wilkerson fix some of their own items.
“Of course, that didn’t make the show,” Karn says. “She could fix anything, and it was amazing to see her at work.”
Round 1 consists of the “make-or-break challenge,” in which all three makers have 90 minutes to build an item of Allen and Karn’s choosing while using the items specifically curated for them in their “mystery crates.” The builds include a fire extinguisher, water fountain, treadmill and handheld vacuum cleaner.
All three makers will test their final constructs for the guys, with only two moving on to Round 2 to compete in the “run-with-it challenge.”
Here they will have five full days to construct something that has never been created before by using the contents of another mystery crate as well as parts from their Round 1 build.
What the final two don’t know is that Wilkerson will throw a proverbial “wrench” into their plans with “April’s Secret Challenge,” covertly tricking up one of the parts, so it will require a surprise repair. This ensures they aren’t just builders and inventors but also fixers.
The final two builds will be shipped to Allen’s workshop, where he and Karn will test each creation based on three criteria – quality, design and functionality. The winning maker takes home $5,000 in cash and the ultimate bragging rights.
Allen was also ready for the challenge.
“They say a longtime friend is someone who responds with, ‘This is by far your worst idea ever.’ Fortunately, this was a great idea working with Richard,” Allen says in a statement. “I loved those days doing ‘Tool Time’ (the fictional show featured in ‘Home Improvement’). We both share a great appreciation of people who can solve a problem not by talking about it, but by ‘doing’ it with creativity and amazing building skills. Plus, it gives me more time to make fun of his fake beard.”
Years after “Home Improvement” left the air, Karn enjoys having Allen at his side.
“Tim has always been jealous of my facial hair. Mainly because when he grows his it looks a bit off, but I will say this has been one of his best ideas ever,” Karn says of the show. “Working alongside him has been the bright spot of this difficult year. We see eye to eye on a lot of things, but if nothing else this show has brought out the differences in our own personal design preferences and when you add in the creativity of our contestants, well let’s just say, it brings me great joy to be a part of this.”
Karn also looked forward to the opportunity to be on TV again. He’s kept himself busy doing theater since “Home Improvement” ended.
“Being on a TV series again helps raise your profile,” Karn says. “Having the structure of a TV series back in my life has been great, even if we had to do it virtually.”