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The series entered on the life of Tim Taylor, a husband and father of three sons who is the host of a home-improvement show called "Tool Time."
- Tim Allen as Tim Taylor
- Patricia Richardson as Jill Taylor
- Zachery Ty Bryan as Brad Taylor
- Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Randy Taylor (seasons 1-8; guest star thereafter)
- Taran Noah Smith as Mark Taylor
- Richard Karn as Al Borland
- Earl Hindman as Wilson W. Wilson, Jr.
- Debbe Dunning as Heidi Keppert (recurring role: seasons 3-6; starring role: seasons 7-8)
- William O'Leary as Marty Taylor (seasons 4-8)
- Blake Clark as Harry Turner (seasons 4-8)
- Pamela Anderson as Lisa (seasons 1-2; season 6)
- Jimmy Labriola as Benny Baroni (seasons 3-8)
- Sherry Hursey as Dr. Ilene Markham (seasons 3-6)
- Mickey Jones as Pete Bilker (seasons 1-8)
- Gary McGurk as Dwayne Hoover (seasons 1-8)
- Casey Sander as Rock Flanigan (seasons 1-8)
- Megan Cavanagh as Trudy McHale (seasons 7-8)
Development and early recasts
"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" (which was 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, Tim 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" show became "Tool Time".
The first filmed pilot of "Home Improvement" was produced in April of 1991, with Frances Fisher playing Jill Taylor.
Fisher (who is primarily known as a dramatic actress) was well qualified for the co-starring role, but she was viewed by the studio audience as not being comedic enough and too serious in her line delivery. The producers tried to work with her 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 that he would have no time to do a TV series, so the character of Glen never came into being.
In the first two years of the show, Pamela Anderson played the part of Tim's Tool Girl, Lisa, on "Tool Time", but she left the show to focus on her role on the syndicated series "Baywatch".
Anderson's 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.
The departure of Jonathan Taylor Thomas
In the show's eighth season and final 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 the show was the eighth and final season's Christmas episode, "Home for the Holidays" (which aired on December 8, 1998).
Taylor did not return to the show for the series finale (which aired in May of 1999) only appearing in archived footage. He was shooting the film "Speedway Junky" for release that summer. His character was not replaced.
End of Series
"Home Improvement" ended after eight seasons in 1999. Patricia Richardson was offered $25 million to do a ninth season and Tim Allen was offered $50 million. However, the two of them declined the offer and the series came to an end as a result.
During its eight-season run, "Home Improvement" always finished in the top 10 in the Nielsen ratings during a season, despite never making the number-one slot (its highest finish was a second-place spot in the show's third season).
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.
"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 other awards.