Will Tim Allen’s long-awaited return to series TV, “Last Man Standing,” still be standing by the end of the season? The show launches tomorrow night (10/11) amid a hail of critical arrows. But it’s getting better and better — to hear Hector Elizondo tell it.
“Like all these shows, it’s a creature that’s creating its own path while walking. We’re figuring things out,” says the debonair actor, who plays Tim’s boss and pal on the new show, in which Nancy Travis plays Tim’s wife and the mother of his three daughters. “We have all the right pieces. It always takes a season with these. If the network gives us a chance, this will be a very successful show.”
Elizondo tells us that Allen’s involvement was the primary inducement for his joining “Last Man Standing.” “I always admired his acting. Not a lot of people think about that. The movies he’s done — I see the chops there, not too hidden under the surface, either. They’re taking advantage of that more and more,” he says of the show’s writers. It’s leading to “more and more real comedy.”
The one-time “Chicago Hope” lead admits he “didn’t want to get back up on the horse” when it came to launching a new TV series. The premature death of his last such effort, the beautifully-crafted “Cane” drama with Jimmy Smits, was a heartbreaker for all involved. Ironically, it shot at the same studio as “Last Man Standing.”
“That one hurt, and left me in a deep, deep funk,” he says. “I said, ‘That’s it. I can’t take another disappointment like that.’ It was a damn good show, a quality show. The production values where high, it had content — that world of Florida and the Caribbean is so economically viable, so important…We were all emotionally involved in it. There was a great feeling of Caribbean warmth on the set. There was good Cuban coffee, dancing between takes. Then the writers’ strike hit for three and a half months, and we couldn’t hold on.”
Elizondo played shrink to Adrian Monk on “Monk” for a season after that, and made films. He has buddy Garry Marshall’s “New Year’s Eve” coming up Dec. 9.
And now, here he is, back at Radford Studios, fully emotionally invested in a series again. He has to be, he says. “It’s always good and always dangerous. You’ve got to dive in in the raw. We’ve got a commitment of 12 to do. I would think with this caliber of talent, we’d get a full season. They’ve been wooing Tim for awhile.” He adds, “We’ll know after three or four are on the air.”