For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “TELEVISION” and go with “Home Improvement“. This television show, which aired on ABC, started in 1991, and was over in 1999. I always loved watching the show and seeing the wisdom of the “fenced in” neighbor. That poor guy!! ha/ha My Dad was a handyman, and seeing some of the things that they did on the show always made me laugh!
It was fun to see the family and how that poor Mom surrounded by guys got through it all. Now I totally understand, as I’m that Mom in the house of men! I loved watching a show that could have been my neighbor, my friend or my family in the characters. For those of you, who are either too young, or just don’t remember it, here’s a video of some of the reasons that we enjoyed watching the “Home Improvement” shows so much:
So, did you ever watch this show when you were younger? or have you seen it on TV later in life? Let me know what you thought of it, and if you have any memories of it in your life!
More Info on the Show:
Home Improvement is an American television sitcom starring Tim Allen, that aired from September 17, 1991 to May 25, 1999. The show was created by Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra and David McFadzean. In the 1990’s, it was one of the most watched sitcoms in the American market, winning many awards. The series launched Tim Allen’s acting career and also was the start of the television career of Pamela Anderson, who was part of the recurring cast for the first two seasons.
Based on the stand-up comedy of Tim Allen, Home Improvement was one of the highest-rated sitcoms for almost the entire decade. It went to No. 1 in the ratings during the 1993–1994 season; the same year Allen had the No. 1 book (Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man) and movie (The Santa Clause).
Beginning in season two, each episode started with a cold open that used the show’s title logo during the teaser. From season 4 to the end of the show’s run in 1999, an anthropomorphic version of the logo was used in different types of animation.
The Taylor Family:
The series centers on the Taylor family, which consists of Tim (Tim Allen), his wife Jill (Patricia Richardson) and their three children: the oldest, Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan), the middle child Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and youngest, Mark (Taran Noah Smith). The Taylors live in suburban Detroit, and have a neighbor named Wilson Wilson (Earl Hindman) who is often the go-to guy for solving the Taylors’ problems.
Tim is a stereotypical American male, who loves power tools, cars and sports (especially the local Detroit teams). He is a former salesman for the fictional Binford Tool company, and is very much a cocky, overambitious, accident-prone know-it-all. Witty but flippant, Tim jokes around a lot, even at inappropriate times, much to the dismay of his wife. However, Tim can sometimes be serious when necessary. Jill, Tim’s wife, is loving and sophisticated, but not exempt from dumb moves herself. in later seasons she returns to college to study psychology. Family life is boisterous for the Taylors’ with the two oldest children, Brad and Randy, tormenting the much younger Mark, all while continually testing and pestering each other. Such play happened especially throughout the first three seasons, and was revisited only occasionally until Jonathan Taylor Thomas left at the beginning of the eighth season. During the show’s final season, Brad and Mark became much closer due to Randy’s absence.
Brad, popular and athletic, was often the moving factor, who engaged before thinking, a tendency which regularly landed him in trouble. Randy, a year younger, was the comedian of the pack, known for his quick-thinking, wisecracks, and smart mouth. He had more common sense than Brad but was not immune to trouble. Mark was somewhat of a mama’s boy, though later in the series (in the seventh season) he grew into a teenage outcast who dressed in black clothing. Meanwhile, Brad became interested in cars like his father and took up soccer. Randy joined the school drama club, and later the school newspaper; in the eighth season, he left for Costa Rica.
Tool Time Show:
Each episode includes Tim’s own Binford-sponsored home improvement show, called Tool Time, a “meta-program,” or show-within-a-show. In hosting this show, Tim is joined by his friend and mild-mannered assistant Al Borland (Richard Karn), and a “Tool Time girl” — first Lisa (Pamela Anderson) and later Heidi (Debbe Dunning) — whose main duty is to introduce the pair at the beginning of the show with the line “Does everybody know what time it is?” The Tool Time girl also assists Tim and Al during the show by bringing them tools.
Although revealed to be an excellent salesman and TV personality, Tim is spectacularly accident prone as a handyman, often causing massive disasters on and off the set, to the consternation of his co-workers and family. Many Tool Time viewers assume that the accidents on the show are done on purpose, to demonstrate the consequences of using tools improperly. Many of Tim’s accidents are caused by his devices being used in an unorthodox or overpowered manner, designed to illustrate his mantra “More power!”. This popular catchphrase would not be uttered after Home Improvements seventh season, until Tim’s last line in the series finale.
Tool Time was conceived as a parody of the PBS home-improvement show This Old House. Tim and Al are caricatures of the two principal cast members of This Old House, host Bob Vila and master carpenter Norm Abram. Al Borland has a beard and always wears plaid shirts when taping an episode, reflecting Norm Abram’s appearance on This Old House. Bob Vila appeared as a guest star on several episodes of Home Improvement, while Tim Allen and Pamela Anderson both appeared on Bob Vila’s show Home Again.
The Tool Time theme music, an early 1960’s-style saxophone-dominated instrumental rock tune, was sometimes used as the closing theme music for Home Improvement, especially when behind the credits were running the blooper scenes that took place during the taping of a Tool Time segment. The musical piece, written and performed by the show’s regular composer Dan Foliart, was first used in a TV series six years before the premiere of Home Improvement. Foliart had been one of the main composers on the Showtime sitcom Brothers; in the second season premiere of that series in 1985, his future “Tool Time” theme, in roughly the same arrangement, was used in a scene where Joe Waters (Robert Walden) and Kelly Hall (Robin Riker) were dancing to it as it played on Kelly’s home stereo. Riker would later co-star in the second season of Home Improvement sister series Thunder Alley, for which Foliart’s co-composer on Brothers, Howard Pearl, scored.
Home Improvement received numerous awards and nominations in its 8-season run. Notable awards and nominations include: Golden Globe Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, Kids’ Choice Awards, Young Artist Awards, YoungStar Awards, ASCAP Award and many others.
About The Stars:
Tim Allen (Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor) was born on June 13, 1953, in Denver, CO, to Martha Katherine (Fox) and Gerald M. Dick. His father, a real-estate salesman, was killed in a collision with a drunk driver while driving his family home from a University of Colorado football game, when Tim was 11 years-old. His mother, a community-service worker, remarried her high-school sweetheart, an Episcopalian deacon, two years after Tim’s father’s death. Tim has a total of eight siblings. His ancestry includes English, German, Irish, and Scottish. When Tim was young, his family moved to Birmingham, Michigan. In high school, his favorite subject was shop, of course, and after high school, he attended Western Michigan University and graduated with a degree in Television Production in 1975. In 1978, he was arrested on drug charges and spent two years in jail. Upon his release, he had a new outlook on life and on a dare from a friend, started his comedy career at the Comedy Castle in Detroit. Later, he went on to do several cable specials, including, Comedy’s Dirtiest Dozen (1988) and Tim Allen: Men Are Pigs (1990). In 1991, he became the star of his own hit television series on ABC called Home Improvement (1991). While continuing to film his television series throughout most of the 1990’s, he starred in a string of blockbuster movies including The Santa Clause (1994), Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999) and Galaxy Quest (1999). In August 1996, he developed and unveiled his own signature line of power tools, manufactured by Ryobi. On top of all that, he has his own racing team, Tim Allen/Saleen RRRRacing. In May 1999, he ended his series Home Improvement (1991) after eight seasons and in 2001, he filmed such movies as Big Trouble (2002) and Joe Somebody (2001).
Patricia Richardson (Jill Taylor) was born in February 23, 1951 in Bethesda, Maryland as the third daughter of Mary Elizabeth and Laurence Baxter Richardson. Her sisters’ names are Marianna ‘Ann’ Bales , Lynn Richardson and Catherine ‘Cathy’ Moseley. Her father was a corporate executive and retired naval officer. Richardson attended the Holton-Arms School in Maryland and then The Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas. She is a 1973 graduate of Southern Methodist University, where she was friends with classmates Beth Henley and Stephen Tobolowsky, who was slated to be a cast member of Home Improvement but had other contractual commitments when the series began filming. Tobolowsky initially suggested to producers of Home Improvement that Richardson be considered for the role of Jill Taylor after Frances Fisher was deemed too serious for the role. She was nominated four times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Home Improvement. Richardson also received a Independent Spirit Award nomination for her performance in Ulee’s Gold (1997).
Zachery Ty Bryan (Brad Taylor) was born in Colorado on October 9th 1981, to Jenny and Dwight Bryan. Beginning his acting career at an early age, he has appeared on television and major motion pictures. He is probably best-known for his role as “Brad Taylor” on Home Improvement (1991). Movie roles included First Kid (1996), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) and ESPN’s _Code Breakers (2005)(TV)_. Zach has maintained an active television career with guest roles including Shark (2006) and on Veronica Mars (2004). In addition to Zach’s on-screen presence, he’s busy writing and can be often spotted at the popular Hollywood bar he co-owns, “Big Wangs”.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Randy Taylor) was born on September 8, 1981 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to Claudine and Stephen Weiss. He has an older brother, Joel, and has Pennsylvania Dutch and Portuguese ancestry. Growing up, he liked the music group Boyz II Men, and his favorite TV shows were Roseanne (1988) and Grace Under Fire (1993), but he also liked watching CNN news, to keep up to date with current events. One thing that Jonathan does not like is meat. He has been a vegetarian since he was four years old, and he doesn’t use products that are tested on animals because he believes that it is wrong to hurt them. When Jonathan was four years old, his family moved from Bethlehem to Sacramento, California. At the age of seven, Jonathan was working as a model for print advertisements in Sacramento, and over the next few years, he appeared in TV commercials for Kelloggs cereal, Mattel toys and for many other products. By this time, Jonathan was ready for bigger roles, and in 1989, he landed the part of Greg Brady’s son Kevin in the TV special The Bradys (1990). In 1990, he landed his biggest role yet, as Randy Taylor on Home Improvement (1991). Jonathan’s audition went well, but what really gave him an edge over the other boys was that the casting directors thought that he looked a lot like his TV dad-to-be, Tim Allen. In 1991, Jonathan’s parents divorced. He lived with his mother and his brother. He began work in feature length movies, as the voice of young Simba in Disney’s The Lion King (1994), and as Ben Archer in _Man of the House (1994) opposite Chevy Chase. Among his other movies are Tom and Huck (1995), The Adventures of Pinocchio (1996), Wild America (1997), and I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1998).
Taran Noah Smith (Mark Taylor) was born on April 8, 1984 in San Francisco, California, USA. He is an actor, known for Home Improvement (1991), Little Bigfoot 2: The Journey Home (1998) and Ebbie (1995). He was previously married to Heidi Van Pelt.
Richard Karn (Al Borland) was born February 17, 1956, and is an American actor and game show host. He is most well known for his co-starring role as Al Borland in the 1990’s sitcom Home Improvement and his tenure as the host of Family Feud during the 2000’s. Karn was born in Seattle, Washington. Karn’s father, Gene, was a Seabee who served in World War II. Richard graduated from Roosevelt High School and the University of Washington, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Karn also gained drama experience in Scotland at the Edinburgh Festival. After earning his drama degree in 1979, Karn moved to New York City. After less than one week, he was hired to do a commercial for Michelob beer that was featured during the 1980 Super Bowl. When he joined the Screen Actors Guild, he was informed there was already a Richard Wilson, so he dropped his last name. In 1989, his wife Tudi convinced him that they should move to Los Angeles. He found a place for them to live by managing an apartment complex, and catered events at a Jewish synagogue on the side. After receiving a traffic citation, Karn attended a traffic school and sat beside an agent who told him about casting for the new television show called Home Improvement. The role of Al Borland had already been given to Stephen Tobolowsky, but when taping was scheduled, Tobolowsky was busy with another movie and the role had to be recast. Karn was a guest star in the pilot episode but became a regular cast member when the show was picked up by the network.
Did You Know?
The character Wilson is based on Tim Allen’s childhood memories of when he was too short to see over a fence, and was therefore unable to see his neighbor.
Originally, actress Frances Fisher was cast as Jill Taylor. During the filming of the pilot, audiences reacted poorly, saying that she made the character of Jill whiney and desperate. She was replaced with Patricia Richardson four days before the pilot episode was taped.
The show was originally conceived under the name “Hammer Time”, after the show Tim would host. Prior to filming the pilot, Tim’s show was re-named “Tool Time” to avoid confusion with M.C. Hammer. Consequently, the show was re-named “Home Improvement” because the creators decided against naming the show after the show-within the show, to avoid confusing viewers.
A Super Nintendo video game was based on the television series. As part of the game’s gimmick, the majority of the instruction manual was blanked out with the words “REAL MEN DON’T NEED INSTRUCTIONS.” The game was only loosely based on the show, and featured Tim fighting through various television sets in the Tool Time studio, doing battle with such foes as men dressed up like dinosaurs.
Binford Tools, the company that sponsors the Tool Time show, is named after a friend of the family of one of the producers.
Al’s girlfriend, Ilene is first introduced as Ilene Markum. But in ‘Dream On’ the credits says that her character is Ilene Martin.
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