Sometimes a hit television series can transcend time — which may explain why “Home Improvement” still resonates with viewers to this day.
The show, which starred Tim Allen as Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, spanned eight seasons (1991 to 1999) and ran for 208 episodes. With its focus on a working family man who starred on a local handyman program called “Tool Time,” the series exemplified the value of hard work, family, and friendship.
It was a family-friendly show with punch and vigor, thanks to Allen’s clean sense of humor and conservative values — a rarity in modern Hollywood. Its success story is very much similar to that of “Last Man Standing” (another show on which Allen plays a lead role), which will be airing on Fox this fall after ABC canceled the show and outrage ensued.
Here are five facts you likely never knew about “Home Improvement.”
1). Tim Allen showed his love for Michigan colleges. Throughout the series, Allen wore an array of different T-shirts and sweatshirts with the names of colleges and sports teams from Michigan.
Allen spent part of his childhood in Michigan and went to college in-state (at Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University).
The phenomenon grew so popular that schools in the state even started sending him shirts to wear. However, there was one error in the show’s history; in Season 6, Episode 3, he accidentally wore a Wofford University shirt, a school based in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Other than this one mixup, his record was impressively clean.
2). It gave Pamela Anderson her big break. The blonde may be best-known for her starring role in “Baywatch,” but prior to it, she played the role of Tim’s “Tool Girl” assistant, Lisa, on the fictional “Tool Time” for the show’s first two seasons.
Ultimately, she left the show to focus on “Baywatch” and was replaced by Debbe Dunning.
3). The original name of the series was going to be “Hammer Time.” The initial plan was for the show to be called “Hammer Time” — and for the show within the show (“Tool Time”) to be called “Hammer Time” as well.
The show came out in 1991, so that plan had to be scrapped thanks to MC Hammer’s hit song “U Can’t Touch This,” which includes the line “Stop! Hammer time!”
Since the phrase “hammer time” became associated with the musician, the show had to make a last-minute change.
4). “Tool Time” was based on “This Old House.” The show within the show starring Tim and his right-hand man Al Borland (Richard Karn) certainly had a comedic aspect to it (intentional or not). And despite its success, the idea wasn’t all that original. It actually was a parody of PBS’ “This Old House,” which has aired since 1979; Tim and Al are supposed to be Bob Vila and Norm Abram, the show’s first host and master carpenter.
Al’s look was even based on Abram’s (plaid shirts and a beard).
5). Frances Fisher was supposed to play Jill. The star of ABC’s soap opera “The Edge of Night” from 1976 to 1981 could have been on a hit show, too, on the network in the 1990s. She was the initial pick to play Tim’s wife, Jill Taylor.
However, Fisher was replaced by Patricia Richardson, as Fisher was considered too serious for the role after shooting the pilot.
Ultimately, the show enjoyed a near decade-long run with Richardson in the role.
Check out the video below to get a glimpse at the potential of a “Home Improvement” reboot in the future:
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.