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Home Improvement

Home Improvement

Category: Sitcom

Created by: Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra, and David MacFadzean

Stars: Tim Allen, Patricia Richardson, Zachery Ty Bryan, Jonathan Taylor Thomas (1991-1998), Taran Noah Smith, Earl Hindman, Richard Karn, Debbe Dunning (1993-1999), Pamela Anderson (1991-1993)

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 204

Original Run: September 17, 1991 to May 25, 1999

Plot Details and Storylines

Home Improvement is about the Taylor family's daily adventures. The family includes Tim Taylor (Tim Allen), his wife Jill (Patricia Richardson) and their three sons. The oldest is Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan). He is popular and athletic. The next son, who is a year younger is Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas). He is funny and smart. The youngest son, Mark (Taran Noah Smith) is socially awkward.

Home Improvement Early Seasons

In the first four seasons, Brad and Randy torment their youngest brother, Mark (and each other). This is a constant challenge for Tim and Jill. Mark is Naive and believes everything his brothers tell him. An example is when the older brothers convinced him that the family was a family of aliens except for him.

Home Improvement Jonathan Taylor Thomas's Departure

As the series progressed, however, Mark grew into a teenage outcast who dressed in dark clothing, while Brad became interested in cars like his father and took up soccer. Randy joined the school newspaper, before leaving for Costa Rica in the eighth season episode "Adios." This was done since Jonathan Taylor Thomas wanted to take time off to focus on academics. He attended Harvard University. His last appearance on Home Improvement was the 1998 Christmas episode, with Thomas unwilling to return to the show for the series finale.

Home Improvement Tool Time the Show

Tim is the host of a home improvent show called Tool Time. Tim has a mild-mannered assistant named Al Borland (Richard Karn) and a "Tool Time girl" (first Lisa (Pamela Anderson) and late Heidi (Debbe Dunning). The "Tool Time girl" would help them by bringing them tools and helping out with stuff around the stage. Tim is a great salesman and TV personality but he was very accident prone as a handyman. He would usually get injured by devices which he modified so that they would have "more power".

Home Improvement Tim and Al

They are good friends. Their friendship started out very rocky. Al was seen as the slightly geeky character who usually knew more than Tim about everything on Tool Time. The audience seemed to like him better than Tim. Al's catch phrase was "I don't think so, Tim" which he used when Tim told a not so appropriate joke or suggested that Al try something which Tim was leary about doing. Al wore flannel shirts and was ribbed about it by Tim. Tim often made jokes about Al's mother (she supposedly was really overweight). Tim uses the show to vent his life frustrations.

Click here to see a great Home Improvement video clip.

Home Improvement Special Guests and Cameos

There were many special guests on the show including Johnny Rutherford, Robby Gordon, Mario and Michael Andretti, Al Unser Sr./Jr./III, Jenny McCarthy, Alan Jackson, Payne Stewart, Drew Carey, The Beach Boys, some of the NASA astraunauts, John Elway, Grant Hill, Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Jimmy Carter (for Habitat For Humanities), and Jay Leno. Bob Vila was on the show many times as a guest and nemesis to Tim.

Home Improvement Running Gags

Scene Transitions - During scene changes, clever transitions were used to comically remove the current image from the screen. For example, the current scene could shatter like glass, fall over like a piece of wood, or deflate like a balloon. These transitions usually (though not always) included something shown or mentioned in the scene before (e.g. heart-shaped balloons inflate and pop to transition from a scene talking about a possible secret admirer in "A Funny Valentine").

Basement Pipe - Tim banged his head on a large metal pipe every time he was walking down the basement steps. He would then do the same thing when he walked back up the steps. This gag is first seen in Season 1, Episode 5, "Wild Kingdom." This never happened to any other character. In one episode, he banged his head on a pipe while walking down the steps of an aircraft carrier, and also banged his head walking down the basement steps in Benny's aunt's house.

Home Improvement

Binford 6100 - From Season 3 onwards, every new power tool introduced by Tim on Tool Time was called the Binford 6100. Prior to this, each tool had a unique model number. Address Card - In the show's early years, Tim would often make remarks (usually involving women) that would cause offense to certain sections of the Tool Time viewership. Al would hold up the address card for viewers to write in and complain, always beginning by saying "That's Tim Taylor, care of Tool Time....". Sometimes Tim would ask Al to destroy the card, but he would always have more. This was first seen in Season 1, on the episode, "Reach Out And Teach Someone".

We'll Be Right Back... - Usually, when something goes wrong on Tool Time (such as in the episode Forever Jung), Tim will say, "We'll be right back after these messages from Binford Tools!".

Salute to... - From the outset of Season 2, Tim and Al would make a theme of a particular home improvement project or item on Tool Time by hosting a week long "salute" to it. This would usually be evident with a banner that said "Salute to ____" or Tim or Al would say "...a salute" followed by a hand salute, thrusting the hand forward, having a sound effect that resembled the particular item being saluted (e.g., if it was a salute to lawn care, the sound effect would be of a mower), finishing with Tim and/or Al saying the particular item being saluted. (Richard Karn would recycle this salute as his sign-off during his tenure as host of Family Feud.)

The Man's... - Similar to the salutes, "Tool Time" often featured "The Man's ____ (Bathroom, Kitchen, etc.)." These skits are the embodiment of Manliness according to Tim. Wilson's Advice - The character Wilson (Earl Hindman), the Taylor family's sage advice-giving neighbor with many historical, philosophical, and literary works to quote. Tim always confusingly misquoted and re-worded Wilson's advice when speaking to Jill or his sons, often prompting them to say, "Please don't explain" or "I don't want to know". Initially only Tim talked about his problems to Wilson, but as the series progressed, Jill and the boys would also talk with Wilson about their own matters.

Home Improvement

Wilson's Face - Perhaps the show's best-known gimmick. Since Wilson was partly inspired by a neighbor that Tim Allen had when he was very little and was too short to see over his neighbor's fence (and therefore unable to see his neighbor), the bottom half of Wilson's face was almost never seen on the show, unless he was playing another role. Instead, it was almost constantly hidden and sometimes blocked by various props, such as fences, grills, masks, plants, or scarfs.

In one episode, Mark was papier-macheing his face leaving the bottom half of his face revealed. Also on one Halloween episode, Wilson was seen at a costume party dressed as the Phantom of the Opera, the mask covering the top half of his face and leaving his mouth revealed. On one occasion his entire face was visible, although hidden behind Halloween makeup.) On another occasion his face was covered with clown makeup. On yet another occasion his face was covered with a beard. His face was fully shown following the series finale episode while taking his final bow. During the show, Wilson is usually working on an unusual project of some sort in his backyard. One of his projects included a self portrait, and when Tim asked to see it, Wilson showed it to him, but only the upper half of Wilson's face was completed. The joke was referenced in "The Karate Kid Returns" as he said, "Some of them have never seen my face".

Someone else was supposed to play the character 'Wilson'. When he found out that his whole face would never be shown, he refused to do it. The creators of the show held auditions again, and Earl Hindman got the role of Wilson. Once, Wilson's mother visited him, and because she was shorter than Wilson, the only thing of her the audience ever got to see was her right hand.

Home Improvement

Jill's Childhood Stories - Jill often told stories about an experience she had when she was a little girl. Tim and the boys always hated those stories and would beg her not to tell them, walk away in the middle of the story, or both. Jill would often try to disguise these stories either by launching straight into it when the boys were off-guard (or willing to listen), or convert them from "when I was a little girl" stories to "when I was a little person" stories. Many times, though, the boys saw straight through this as they matured. One of the most notable examples was when while Jill tried to explain to Randy that older siblings (in Randy's case, Brad) get to do more things earlier, she lamented about how growing up her older sister got to wear a bra while Jill had to wear a "dorky undershirt". Randy replied by saying he understood, and asked Jill "When do you think I get to wear a bra, mom?"

Al is the Star - Tool Time viewers often had the misconception that Al was the star of the show, probably due to him being more skillful and intelligent than Tim. Tim usually takes these comments with barely restrained annoyance and reminds the viewers that Al is his assistant and not the reverse. He often says "Al is my assistant. He assists me." putting emphasis on the last three words. (Wilson also says this line when playing a mad scientist in the Seventh Season episode, A Night to Dismember.) A related running gag is a fan of the show telling Tim "I'm a big fan of Tool Time. I love Al", to which Tim would always reply with a sarcastic, "We all love Al.". In later seasons, when Tim introduces Al to the Tool Time crowd, he would get an applause from the audience.

Whenever Tim made a joke like, "You think they'd call it...", or advanced an ill-advised plan, Al would say, "I don't think so Tim".

Home Improvement

Whenever Tim introduces Al on Tool Time, he added a sarcastic middle name like Al "This land is" Borland.

Al's Mother - Tim frequently cracks jokes about Al's mother, usually about her weight. She was an unseen character in the series in an episode, she can be seen in a picture on the Tool Time set, but only from the back side in the final season, when she passes away she can be partially viewed in the funeral scene. Previously, Tim teased his mother-in-law under the same topic, but when it was revealed that Tim's jokes helped her to lose weight and she appeared quite slim, Tim's jokes about his mother-in-law was quietly dropped and never heard of again.

Power - Tim saying something needed "More power", which was then followed by his trademark "Simian Grunt" Later, characters would suggest that Tim make "the power [blank]" when he expressed dissatisfaction with something's capabilities.

Jill's cooking - Tim and the boys' never-ending wisecracks about Jill's notoriously bad cooking.

Let's pick on Mark! - the two older boys, Brad and Randy would often pick on their youngest brother Mark, conning him into pranks and false stories. sometimes there would be a reversal of roles, such as Mark effortlessly beating the other boys at chess or Game-boy.

The Grunt - Tim would usually grunt while doing something manly to exert his manliness.

Al's "lack of style" - Tim would constantly make jokes about Al's plaid flannel shirt.

Al's datelessness - Some jokes would play off of how Al was not involved in any relationships, such as how Al was good at detecting wood by its scent and Tim sarcastically commenting "Can you believe it ladies, this man is single?". Tim stopped these jokes when he realized Al was seriously troubled by his lack of a woman, and the problem was solved in later episodes when he started dating.

"Hey! I don't go in for that kind of thing!" - An extra uses this line, once when Tim jokingly asked him to join him and his sister-in-law dancing, once when Al crashed through a wall and ended up on his bed, and a couple other times throughout the series.

Home Improvement Show Background

Home Improvement is based on Tim Allen's stand-up comedy. The show was one of the highest-rated sitcoms for almost the entire decade that it was on tv.

Home Improvement Characters

The Taylor Family

Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor (Tim Allen) - Jill's husband and Brad, Randy and Mark's father.

Jillian "Jill" Patterson Taylor (Patricia Richardson) Tim's wife and Brad, Randy and Mark's mother.Bradley Michael "Brad" Taylor (Zachery Ty Bryan) Randy and Mark's older brother.

Randall William "Randy" Taylor (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) Brad's younger brother and Mark's older brother.Marcus Jason "Mark" Taylor (Taran Noah Smith) Brad and Randy's younger brother.

Martin "Marty" Taylor (William O'Leary) Tim's younger brother.Geoffrey "Geoff" Taylor (Thom Sharp) Tim's older brother.

Lucille Taylor (Bonnie Bartlett) --- Tim, Marty and Geoff's mother; Brad, Randy and Mark's paternal grandmother; Jill's mother-in-law.

Home Improvement Friends of the Family

Al Borland (Richard Karn) Tim's assistant and best friendWilson W. Wilson Jr. (Earl Hindman) - Tim's neighbor and confidant

Lisa (Pamela Anderson) Binford's first "Tool Girl"; Ashley Judd auditioned for and won the role of Lisa the Tool Girl. However, her agent urged her to pursue movies instead of a television career, and she pulled out days before the original pilot was to be taped, resulting in the casting of Pamela Anderson. The last-minute change necessitated alterations to the original script, in which Lisa was a major character; she was a college student majoring in psychology who acted as a stand-in on the Tool Time set.Heidi Keppert (Debbe Dunning) The second "Tool Girl"; Tim delivered her first baby at a gas station, with Jill assisting and Wilson giving instructions over the phone when he convinced her to come to an awards show.

During the final episode, Heidi announced that she was pregnant again.Harry Turner (Blake Clark) Owner of "Harry's Hardware"Benny Beroni (Jim Labriola) - One of Tim's buddies who hangs out at the hardware store

The grunt.

Home Improvement Series Finale

The series ended in a three-part episode with Tim being displeased at how Tool Time had been changed into something resembling a corporate-sponsored Jerry Springer-like show, and Jill getting a new job offer with Jill worried about pay when Tim quit the show. The personal conflict revolved around the job being in Bloomington, Indiana, a change that Tim strongly resisted initially.

Of course, after talking to Wilson, he agreed to leave Detroit. Tim ended his Tool Time appearances with a final show that garnered huge ratings. Then, Tim tore down the fence to make room for his former co-host Al's wedding. However, Jill realized that they would be moving out of the house the family grew up in. The conclusion was somewhat ambiguous, although Jill seemed adamant about them not moving. The last shot was Tim imagining (a thought balloon was used for emphasis) putting the whole house on a flatbed truck and then on a tugboat, leaving the viewer to decide if they moved or stayed in Detroit.

The three-part series finale was taped twice, once with Wilson's face revealed and another with it hidden. ABC was to decide which version would air in May 1999. Ultimately, they aired the version with Wilson's face hidden, as in the other 200 episodes.

This version was released later that fall on VHS, titled Home Improvement: The Series Finale. The finale brought in 35.5 million viewers (34% of all Americans watching TV at that time.)

Home Improvement Awards and Nominations

Home Improvement received numerous awards and nominations in its 8 season run. Notable awards and nominations include:

Golden Globe Awards


Nominated- Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy (Tim Allen)


Nominated- Best Television Series - Musical Or Comedy Nominated- Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy (Patricia Richardson) Nominated- Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy (Tim Allen)


Nominated- Best Television Series - Musical Or Comedy Nominated- Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy (Patricia Richardson) Win- Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy (Tim Allen)


Nominated- Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy (Tim Allen)


Nominated- Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy (Tim Allen) Primetime Emmy Awards


Nominated- Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated- Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Tim Allen)


Nominated- Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Patricia Richardson)


Nominated- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Patricia Richardson)


Nominated- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Patricia Richardson)

1998 Nominated- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Patricia Richardson)






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