Tim Allen enjoyed a rapid rise in stardom in the late 80s/early 90s as a stand-up comedian. He owed his success to a hilarious routine that revolved around power tools and the primeval grunting males that covet them in their never-ending quest to be the king of all home repairs. Network execs at ABC thought that made for an interesting premise for a sitcom, and the foundation was laid for Home Improvement. Over the next decade, the series rose in popularity like a mighty skyscraper under swift construction.
In an interesting twist, Allen starred as Tim Taylor, who in turn, was the star of his own home improvement show called Tool Time, which aired on a local cable network in Detroit. Assisting Tim on the show were his faithful and able assistant, Al Borland, and a “Tool Time Girl” (the first of which was Pamela Anderson) to provide some eye candy. While Tim and Al (mostly Al) did their best to teach viewers how to accomplish basic home-improvement projects, Tim had a habit of letting his personal tool machismo get in the way. For every problem, the solution was simple – more power!
Ironically, when Tim was at home, however, he wasn’t quite the master craftsman that his viewers were led to believe. He instilled his “more power” philosophy in every project and, more often than not, it led to a home that was anything but improved. Garbage disposals would go haywire when bigger motors were attached, for example, and once he got his hands on the family lawnmower, it ran in reverse and crashed.
The only thing Tim was clumsier at than home repairs, it turned out, was managing his family. Luckily, he had a very forgiving and patient wife named Jill who was no longer surprised by his antics. When she wasn’t undoing the wake of damage he left, she was focused on raising their three boys – eldest Brad, middle Randy and young Mark, each a work in progress in their own right. Tim did his best, although his advise was often a bit suspect. Luckily, he had a wealth of advice to tap into from his wise next-door neighbor, Wilson (whose full face was always obscured by the tall fence separating their property, or by some other inanimate object – as part of a running gag.)
And throughout all of the plots, which usually revolved around trying to juggle the problems of running a cable show and raising a family simultaneously, it was Tim Allen’s unique brand of everyman humor that endeared Home Improvement to it’s many fans. First airing in 1991, it quickly became the most popular new show in the lineup. Tim and family would eventually hammer out eight seasons, and in later years, new episodes were running concurrently with earlier shows airing in syndication. Tim might not have known how to build a successful garbage disposal but he certainly knew a thing or two about constructing a hit television series.
If you tuned in weekly to the antics of Home Improvement, we welcome your memories in our comments section, as we tip our hard hat to this fondly remembered television show.