The Comedy Vault – Home Improvement.

Home Improvement (ABC, 1991-1999)

I have said before that I am not as big a fan of American sitcoms as I am of British ones, most of them are far too twee or far-fetched for me, but I thought that I would look back at some more that did have some success in this country and attracted my attention. It always surprises me how many episodes American sitcoms can go on for. There were over 200 of this one, when in the UK, any that get past 25 are rather lucky. They really do things bigger over there.

Home Improvement was a sitcom that starred Tim Allen. He was a comedian who had developed a character as part of his stand-up routine (although when his stage show was shown on Channel 4 in 1993, this attracted some rather small ratings). He was something of a DIY fanatic, seeing himself as rather macho, especially when he had some power tools in his hands, but he was accident prone (and of course, his catchphrase was “eeeuurrgghh!!”).

This was then turned into the sitcom Home Improvement, where Allen played Tim Taylor (not to be confused with Tim Brooke-Taylor, er, yes). He had found fame by hosting a local cable TV show called Tool Time. In this, some rather ludicrous inventions would be featured that would supposedly help people who wanted to do some decorating at home (and the writers clearly had fun creating these).

But this often went wrong, and Tim’s suggestion of “more power!” never helped things, meaning that his more sensible co-host Al often had to come to the rescue. In the earliest editions, there was also the glamorous assistant Lisa, played by a pre-fame Pamela Anderson. And to flesh this idea out, we also saw Tim’s life at home, which could be rather action-packed too.

His wife was Jill, and their three sons Bradley, Randy, and Mark were entering their teenage years (and leaving them by the end of the run). Another regular was next-door neighbour Mr Wilson, who often spoke to Tim, and fulfilled two sitcom clichés. Firstly, his face was never fully seen, and secondly, there was some mystery about his first name (which also turned out to be Wilson). Another unusual element was the way that the scenes transitioned, usually overlapping each other.

Home Improvement was shown in this country on Channel 4, who stayed committed, and showed all of the 200+ episodes over seven years, although I don’t think that all of them were in a primetime slot, and there haven’t been that many repeat runs in more recent years. Allen has also had success by contributing his voice to the Toy Story series, and making lots of cheesy Christmas films.


One thought on “The Comedy Vault – Home Improvement.

  1. George Kaplan says:

    I’m rather ashamed to say I watched almost every episode of this. I just loved comedy! In my defence I also watched Cheers, The Larry Sanders Show, and the masterpiece Seinfeld in this era. Also, Friends. But that sucks.
    The most memorable thing about Home Improvement (more so than Tim “The Toolman” Taylor’s grunting idiocy, the dryness of his competent long-suffering assistant Al, a brief appearance from Robert Picardo, and facially-obscured neighbour, Wilson) was Patricia Richardson in a Mrs Santa Claus outfit. Oh, and Pamela Anderson and her replacement (who I think was named Debbe Dunning with that spelling though I suspect I’m wrong). For reasons that don’t need to be clarified!


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