Nancy Travis talks LAST MAN STANDING

You all know how I feel about Tim Allen.  The same goes for Nancy Travis, so you can imagine how happy I was to hear that the two of them would be together, married, on a show for ABC that reminded me of a time when HOME IMPROVEMENT was a reason to get my homework done.  That show, LAST MAN STANDING, is airing episode 3 tonight, after premiere that found over 13 million viewers taking comfort in a formula we all know and love.

I spent some time chatting with Nancy Travis about tonight’s episode, “Grandparents’ Day,” and what else is coming for this family.  We also talked a bit about what’s coming beyond tonight, and why this is a show people are finding and relating to.  Sadly, time didn’t allow for the burning Three Men and a Bride questions, but I remain hopeful!

Congrats on the great ratings – so excited for you all!
Same here, that’s part of why I’m feeling so good today.  It’s very exciting!

What was it about LAST MAN STANDING that got you involved?
In all honesty, I wasn’t looking to do another sitcom.  I feel like I’ve sort of done the sitcom life so much that I kind of could do it in my sleep [laughs].  But I was sent the script, and there was something about it that actually made me laugh out loud, and I thought, this is kind of an interesting scenario.  It’s not your cookie cutter family, it’s not just the 2 kids, and the husband, and the dog.  It’s a little more interesting.  It’s more emblematic of maybe where we are in the world, in the country.  And, Tim Allen, I have always wanted to work with Tim Allen.  I think he’s wonderful, and incredibly talented.  This opportunity came along, and I jumped on with both hands!You say that you’ve always wanted to work with Tim – it feels like watching you two, you’ve worked together for years.
I know, we just met on this, and it’s such a pleasure working with him.  I have to say, I’ve worked with a lot of people.  I’m so impressed with how generous he is with the comedy, with the back and forth, with the work, he really is a delight.

We’ve gotten to see the first two episodes of the season.  What can you tease is coming up [tonight] and beyond?
Oh great – and I just have to preface, too, that when you start with a pilot, and you’re trying to create a family, it takes work to sort of put together who these people are, and what their relationships are, and what they mean to each other, and do that in 20 minutes, and make it entertaining.  It’s been great just trying to build this family, and wondering who they are, and where they come from, and how they feel.  We’re continuing now, we’ll see, I think, the reality that I’m a grandmother comes crashing down and I have a bit of a breakdown.  We go to Grandparents’ Day at Boyd’s school, and that becomes a shock.  And of course, everything I tell you is going to come from my point of view, because in my mind, I’m the star [laughs]. Let’s see!  We have a wonderful Halloween episode that I’m really excited about.  It’s almost a farce, sort of, style of a show.  It’s very, very funny.  A little switched identity thing, and fun costumes.  And you know, it’s mostly episodes about family issues that come up in the family, and how they reverberate with Tim at work, and with the girls.  We have an episode where I get promoted, and you see me at work, and Tim is really running the house, and how does that affect the girls not having me there. What happens with the girls showing up at work. It’s better than me telling you, let me put it that way [laughs].

The show seems real, in the way the differences of the family are explored.
Well that’s good, I’m glad.  That’s really the struggle.  You have this comedic format, and if you don’t find the reality in it, it’s not going to be funny.  It’s just going to be a cheap laugh, so I think that’s where all the work comes in, just trying to ground these people, so that they’re believable.  Viewers are very smart.  They know when you’re telling a lie about a character, or when something doesn’t ring true. So it’s trying to honor that.  At the same time, make it funny.

Why do you think that now is a good time for this show to be on the air, and for people to be tuning in?
I think somebody mentioned to me that it’s like comfort food.  Tim was quoted as saying, you know, you like hamburgers, and just because you grow up doesn’t mean you have to like hamburgers any less.  It’s familiar, I think it’s a family that is very recognizable by people.  I don’t think it’s a point of view that’s on television right now.  Hopefully people will see themselves, the similarity in circumstances, and being able to laugh and relate, and maybe be able to relieve some of the pressure and anxiety in their lives.

We talked about it being real, the conversations that you and Tim have with the girls, I can see myself having had those conversations when I was living at home.
Right, and I think the stories are endless.  We’ve just begun, and it just could go on and on.  Loosely based, it’s a family, but more specifically, it’s a family, just get through the day, and the trials and tribulations of growing up and paying the bills and dealing with the changing world and changing economy.

We loved you this year on HART OF DIXIE, too, and I know that because of this show, you couldn’t do both.  You had a wealth there in your hands.
Believe me, no one knew it more than I!  If I could have done both, I would have loved it.  I loved that part in HART OF DIXIE.  That was a lot of fun.  I wish that show well.

What else do you have coming up besides LAST MAN STANDING that we can look forward to?
Other than carpool and dinner tonight and cupcakes for my sons birthday? [laughs].  Right now, this is it.  I’m hoping that the show continues to be a success and we get to make more episodes.  That would be my big dream.  Other than that, I’m a mom in my life, and I juggle that with LAST MAN STANDING, and that pretty much keeps my days and nights full.

Do you get a chance to watch other TV when you have some downtime?
I don’t.  I really wish I did.  My problem is that by the time I sit down, and I TiVo them, but by the time I sit down to watch, I’m asleep on the couch, and I don’t know how many times my husband’s shaking me saying, ok, just go up to bed because this is ridiculous [laughs].