Home Improvement (TV series)

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Home Improvement
Home improvment logo.jpg
FormatSitcom
Created byCarmen Finestra
David McFadzean
Matt Williams
StarringTim Allen
Patricia Richardson
Earl Hindman
Zachery Ty Bryan
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Taran Noah Smith
Richard Karn
Debbe Dunning
Theme music composerDan Foliart
Opening theme"Iron John's Rock"
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes204 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Carmen Finestra
David McFadzean
Matt Williams (entire run)
Bob Bendetson
(seasons 3–5)
Elliot Shoenman
(seasons 3–8)
Bruce Ferber
(mid-season 4–season 8)
Charlie Hauck (seasons 6–7)
Tim Allen (seasons 6–8)
Laurie Gelman (season 8)
Producer(s)Gayle S. Maffeo (entire run)
Alan Padula (seasons 4-8)
John Pasquin (seasons 1–2)
Editor(s)Marcio Zappia (entire run)
James Spach (season 8)
Richard Russell (season 6-7)
Roger Ames Berger (seasons 3-5)
Alex Gimenez (seasons 1–2)
Location(s)Walt Disney Studios
Burbank, California
Camera setupVideotape; Multi-camera
Running time22 minutes
Production company(s)Wind Dancer Productions
Touchstone Television
DistributorDisney-ABC Domestic Television
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Picture format480i (SDTV)
Original runSeptember 17, 1991 (1991-09-17) – May 25, 1999 (1999-05-25)
 
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Home Improvement
Home improvment logo.jpg
FormatSitcom
Created byCarmen Finestra
David McFadzean
Matt Williams
StarringTim Allen
Patricia Richardson
Earl Hindman
Zachery Ty Bryan
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Taran Noah Smith
Richard Karn
Debbe Dunning
Theme music composerDan Foliart
Opening theme"Iron John's Rock"
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes204 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Carmen Finestra
David McFadzean
Matt Williams (entire run)
Bob Bendetson
(seasons 3–5)
Elliot Shoenman
(seasons 3–8)
Bruce Ferber
(mid-season 4–season 8)
Charlie Hauck (seasons 6–7)
Tim Allen (seasons 6–8)
Laurie Gelman (season 8)
Producer(s)Gayle S. Maffeo (entire run)
Alan Padula (seasons 4-8)
John Pasquin (seasons 1–2)
Editor(s)Marcio Zappia (entire run)
James Spach (season 8)
Richard Russell (season 6-7)
Roger Ames Berger (seasons 3-5)
Alex Gimenez (seasons 1–2)
Location(s)Walt Disney Studios
Burbank, California
Camera setupVideotape; Multi-camera
Running time22 minutes
Production company(s)Wind Dancer Productions
Touchstone Television
DistributorDisney-ABC Domestic Television
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Picture format480i (SDTV)
Original runSeptember 17, 1991 (1991-09-17) – May 25, 1999 (1999-05-25)

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 1990s, 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.[1]

Show background[edit]

Based on the stand-up comedy of Tim Allen, Home Improvement made its debut on ABC on September 17, 1991,[2] and 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).[3] The series regularly won its time slot against Seinfeld in its second season, which prompted NBC to move that show to Thursday nights (where it was much more successful). NBC's placement of Frasier opposite Home Improvement in 1994 was effective enough to do some damage to the show's ratings, but it remained a Top 10 show for its entire original run. The final episode aired on May 25, 1999 with a 90-minute finale, which was the fourth highest rated comedy series finale of the 1990s, behind Cheers, The Cosby Show and Seinfeld.

Beginning in season two, each episode starts 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.

[4]

Syndication[edit]

In the United States, Home Improvement started to air in broadcast syndication in September 1995, distributed via Buena Vista Television (now Disney-ABC Domestic Television) and continued to be syndicated until 2007; in a manner similar to Seinfeld and The Simpsons after they began airing in broadcast syndication, episodes of Home Improvement were not aired in order of their production code number or original airdate. It has previously aired on cable television via TBS from 2002 to 2013, and WGN America from 2002 to 2006. It also aired on Nick at Nite from September 3, 2007 to October 2009[5] and again on Monday mornings only starting on September 27, 2010, and aired on TV Land from January 4, 2010 [6] to 2013. Currently, the show began airing on the The Hallmark Channel on September 3, 2013.

Since 1995, due to its popularity, reruns began airing on The Disney Channel, Channel 4 and ABC1 in the UK. Originally, Home Improvement was aired on Channel 4 and then later the Disney Channel; however, in 2005, it began broadcasting on ABC1. On September 26, 2007, ABC1 ceased transmissions and no official announcement was made as to which channels would be broadcasting ABC1's previous programming. Although the show stopped airing in the UK due to ABC1 ceasing transmission on September 26, on July 28, 2008 it restarted from the pilot episode on Virgin 1. However, it was announced that Virgin 1 (now Channel One) would close on January 31, 2011, and no announcement has been made regarding which channel the show will be moved to.

In Canada, it previously aired on CTV from beginning to the ending (1991-1999), CMT and YTV. In Germany, Home Improvement was shown on ARD, RTL, VOX, and reruns are currently shown on the private channels RTL II and Super RTL. It was also shown on M-Net on South African television, and reruns are showing throughout 2007 on the M-Net Series channel, available to DStv users. It is currently airing on TV Land at 2AM ET. In New Zealand, reruns of the show also currently play on the free-to-air channel Prime Television. In 2011, Asian Network Star World started telecasting the show in place of The Simpsons.

At the present time, reruns are aired internationally on the Seven Network and 111 Hits in Australia, Sab TV and Disney Channel in India.

Plot details and storylines[edit]

Taylor family[edit]

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, Michigan and have a neighbor named Wilson (Earl Hindman) who is often the go-to guy for solving Tim and Jill's 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, accident-prone know-it-all. Witty but flippant, Tim jokes around a lot, even at inappropriate times. Family life is boisterous, with the two oldest children, Brad and Randy, tormenting the much younger Mark, while continually testing and pestering each other. This rough by-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 (a goth). 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[edit]

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?" They also assist Tim and Al during the show by bringing them tools.

Although revealed to be an excellent salesman and TV personality, Tim Taylor 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 unauthorized manner, designed to illustrate his mantra "More power!". This popular mantra would not be uttered after Home Improvement's seventh season,[7] until Tim's last line in the series finale.

The Tool Time theme music, an early 1960s-style saxophone-dominated instrumental rock tune, was sometimes used as the closing theme music for Home Improvement, especially when the blooper scenes ran behind the credits 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.[citation needed] 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, which Foliart's co-composer on Brothers, Howard Pearl, scored for.

Awards and nominations[edit]

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.

Production[edit]

Development and early recasts[edit]

Home Improvement had been in the works between Tim Allen and the writing/producing team of Carmen Finestra, David McFadzean and Matt Williams since the summer of 1990. Originally, the project's proposed title was Hammer Time, both a play on the catchphrase made popular by artist MC Hammer and the name of the fictional fix-it show within the series, which was also called Hammer Time. By the time ABC committed to the project in early 1991, Allen and his team had already changed the title to Home Improvement. The show hosted by Tim Taylor in the shooting script for Home Improvement was still called Hammer Time when the first pilot with Frances Fisher was filmed in April 1991. The catalyst for the series' name change was to represent the aspect of fixing problems within the family and home life, as well as the use of mechanics and tools. Once the second phase of the pilot was produced, with all the actors that made the final cut into the series (including Patricia Richardson), Tim Taylor's Hammer Time became Tool Time.

The first filmed pilot was produced in April 1991, with Frances Fisher playing the Jill Taylor character. Fisher, primarily known as a dramatic actress, was well qualified for the co-starring role but was viewed by the studio audience as not being comedic enough, and too serious in her line delivery. The producers tried to work with Fisher on adapting to the situation comedy setting, but shortly after the pilot wrapped post-production, they decided to recast her.

Before the first pilot was shot, actor John Bedford Lloyd was in the running for one of two roles; that of Tim's Tool Time assistant (originally named "Glen") and the role of Wilson. Bedford-Lloyd eventually got the part of Wilson, but his agent later made claims that the actor was unaware that most of his scenes would require his face to be partially hidden behind a fence. For this reason, the crew received news just one day prior to taping the first pilot that Bedford-Lloyd had dropped out. Casting immediately contacted the other actor considered for the role, Earl Hindman.

Stephen Tobolowsky was tapped to play the Tool Time co-host, Glen. However, he was still busy with a movie that was in the middle of production at the time the first pilot was to be shot. Therefore, the producers set out to cast an alternate character that would stand in as Tim's co-host for the pilot, or for however many episodes were required until Tobolowsky was available. The casting department auditioned Richard Karn, for what would be his first major appearance on a TV sitcom; the character of Al Borland was created from there. After the first few episodes completed with Patricia Richardson as Jill, Tobolowsky was still tied up with his other commitments, and Karn found himself in his role permanently when Tobolowsky decided he would have no time to do a series. Thus, the character of Glen never came into being.

Casting changes[edit]

Pamela Anderson[edit]

In the first two years of the show, Pamela Anderson played the part of Tim's Tool Girl, Lisa, on Tool Time, but left the show to focus on her role on the syndicated series Baywatch. Her last episode as a series regular was "The Great Race," which aired on May 19, 1993. Tim's new assistant, Heidi, played by Debbe Dunning, replaced Anderson as the Tool Time Girl for the following third season, starting with "Maybe Baby," which aired on September 15, 1993. Anderson did reprise the role of Lisa on the sixth season finale episode "The Kiss and the Kiss-Off," which aired on May 20, 1997.

Departure of Jonathan Taylor Thomas[edit]

In the show's eighth season, the middle child Randy left for an environmental study program in Costa Rica in the episode "Adios", which aired on September 29, 1998. This was done because Jonathan Taylor Thomas reportedly wanted to take time off to focus on academics. His last appearance on Home Improvement was the eighth season's Christmas episode "Home for the Holidays," which aired on December 8, 1998. He did not return to the show for the series finale, aired in May 1999, only appearing in archived footage. He was shooting the film Speedway Junky for release that summer. His character was not replaced.

Post-series events[edit]

Tim Allen, Richard Karn, and Debbe Dunning had a reunion in a television special named Tim Allen Presents: A User's Guide to Home Improvement in 2003 (a terminally ill Earl Hindman did voice-overs, befitting his never-seen persona of Wilson).[8] Allen presented his own favorite clips from the show, insider's tips, personal reflections and a question and answer session with the live audience. The special is included on the season 8 DVD set.

On August 3, 2011, in Pacific Palisades, California, the surviving main cast members reunited for Entertainment Weekly magazine, including Jonathan Taylor Thomas, whom the cast hadn't seen since 1998.[9]

Richard Karn guest starred in two episodes of Tim Allen's current ABC sitcom Last Man Standing in 2013.[10][11] Jonathan Taylor Thomas also guest starred in two episodes of Last Man Standing in 2013.[12][13]

Cast[edit]

Main cast[edit]

CharacterActor/ActressEpisodesSeason
Timothy "Tim" TaylorTim Allen(204 episodes, 1991–1999)1–8
Jillian "Jill" Patterson-TaylorPatricia Richardson(204 episodes, 1991–1999)1–8
Bradley Michael "Brad" TaylorZachery Ty Bryan(202 episodes, 1991–1999)1–8
Randall William "Randy" TaylorJonathan Taylor Thomas(177 episodes, 1991–1998)1–8
Marcus Jason "Mark" TaylorTaran Noah Smith(201 episodes, 1991–1999)1–8
Wilson W Wilson, Jr.Earl Hindman(202 episodes, 1991–1999)1–8
Albert "Al" BorlandRichard Karn(201 episodes, 1991–1999)1–8
Heidi KeppertDebbe Dunning(148 episodes, 1993–1999)3–8

Recurring characters[edit]

CharacterActor/ActressEpisodesSeason
LisaPamela Anderson(48 episodes, 1991–93, 97)1-2, 6
Martin "Marty" TaylorWilliam O'Leary(30 episodes, 1994–1999)4–8
Harry TurnerBlake Clark(24 episodes, 1994–1999)4–8
Benny BaroniJimmy Labriola(16 episodes, 1994–1999)4–8
Dr. Ilene MarkhamSherry Hursey(16 episodes, 1993–1997)3–6
Pete BilkerMickey Jones(13 episodes, 1991–1999)1-8
Dwayne HooverGary McGurk(11 episodes, 1991–1999)1-8
Rock FlanaganCasey Sander(10 episodes, 1991–1999)1-8

Special guests and cameos[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Nielsen ratings[edit]

Seasonal Nielsen Rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Home Improvement on ABC.[14] The series finale became the fifth highest-rated series finale television program of the 1990s and the ninth overall series finale ever presented on a single network in television history, watched by 35.5 percent of the households sampled in America, and 21.6 percent of television viewers.

SeasonSeason PremiereSeason FinaleTV SeasonRankViewers
(in millions)
1September 17, 1991May 5, 19921991–1992#518.0
2September 16, 1992May 19, 19931992–1993#319.45
3September 15, 1993May 25, 19941993–1994#2[15]20.64
4September 20, 1994May 23, 19951994–1995#3[16]19.9
5September 19, 1995May 21, 19961995–1996#716.2
6September 17, 1996May 20, 19971996–1997#914.0
7September 23, 1997May 19, 19981997–1998#1018.4
8September 22, 1998May 25, 19991998–1999#1016.5

DVD releases[edit]

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has released all eight seasons on DVD in Region 1, 2 and 4. Season 8 has the "Backstage Pass" (which immediately followed "The Long and Winding Road, Part III") and the reunion show on the fourth disc of the set.

On May 10, 2011, Walt Disney Studios released a complete series box set entitled Home Improvement: 20th Anniversary Complete Collection on DVD in Region 1. The 25-disc collection features all 204 episodes of the series as well as all special features contained on the previously released season sets; it is encased in special collectible packaging, a Home Improvement toolbox with a Binford "All-In-One Tool" tape measure.[17]

DVD NameEp#Release dates
Region 1Region 2 (Germany)Region 4
The Complete First Season24November 23, 2004July 14, 2005June 28, 2005
The Complete Second Season25June 7, 2005October 13, 2005July 20, 2005
The Complete Third Season25November 22, 2005January 12, 2006January 16, 2006
The Complete Fourth Season25June 6, 2006December 6, 2007December 5, 2007
The Complete Fifth Season26November 14, 2006March 6, 2008April 2, 2008
The Complete Sixth Season25May 15, 2007November 13, 2008December 3, 2008
The Complete Seventh Season25August 7, 2007April 2, 2009March 18, 2009
The Complete Eighth Season28June 10, 2008August 13, 2009December 2, 2009
20th Anniversary Complete Collection204May 10, 2011N/AN/A

DVD notes[edit]

The Region 1 DVDs are on three discs (with the exception of the final season set, which has four discs), whereas the Region 2 DVDs are presented across four discs, but in Germany the fourth to seventh seasons are also three disc sets. The Region 2 packaging and programme menus for Season 1 vary compared to the Region 1 releases. The Season 3 menus in Region 1 are in widescreen, but 4:3 in Region 2. The Region 1 releases of Seasons 2 and 3 consist of (deliberate) "holes" in the outer packaging—these do not exist in the Region 2 releases; in fact, the Season 3 outer packaging is physically printed where the hole would be in the Region 1 packaging.

It has been mentioned on review sites about the lack of episode commentaries and bonus features on the DVDs (except unaired blooper reels). In an interview on About.com,[18] Tim Allen stated that it was a done deal that the DVDs would not contain interviews or episode commentaries. Whether this was before or after someone at Disney ordered the three commentaries available on the Season 1 DVDs is unknown.

In other media[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tim Allen's Power Tools : Television: The comic who had Disney and cable executives abuzz parlayed his luck to develop 'Home Improvement.' - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. September 17, 1991. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Home Improvement Season 1 episodes". TVGuide.com. Retrieved January 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Tim Allen". Inside the Actors Studio. Season 12. Episode 15. 2006-05-28.
  4. ^ Petrozzello, Donna (May 27, 1999). "POWER RATINGS FOR 'HOME'". NY Daily News. Retrieved February 24, 2010. 
  5. ^ Coming to Nick At Nite in 2007 – Sitcoms Online Message Boards
  6. ^ TV Land Forum
  7. ^ "Home Improvement" The Complete Third Season DVD Review - Page 1 of 2
  8. ^ Tim Allen Presents: A User's Guide to 'Home Improvement' (2003) (TV)
  9. ^ Barrett, Annie. "'Home Improvement' cast reunites for photo - EXCLUSIVE | Inside TV | EW.com". Insidetv.ew.com. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Listings - LAST MAN STANDING on ABC (#209) "Attractive Architect"". TheFutonCritic.com. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Listings - LAST MAN STANDING on ABC (#217) "The Fight"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Tim Allen Reunite on Last Man Standing Retrieved March 20, 2013
  13. ^ "Listings - LAST MAN STANDING on ABC (#304) "Ryan v. John Baker"". TheFutonCritic.com. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  14. ^ Nielsen Ratings 1990-1995
  15. ^ "1993-1994 Television Season Top Rated Shows". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 31, 2006. Retrieved February 14, 2011. 
  16. ^ "ABC Hits a 'Home' Run". Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  17. ^ Lambert, David (February 4, 2011). "Home Improvement - '20th Anniversary Complete Collection' 25-DVD Set with 'Toolbox' Package". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved February 9, 2011. 
  18. ^ Tim Allen Interview – Christmas with the Kranks, Toy Story 3

External links[edit]