14 Sturdy Facts About 'Home Improvement'

YouTube
YouTube

An American network television staple for a good part of the 1990s, Home Improvement—which premiered 25 years ago, on September 17, 1991—was a sitcom documenting the work and home life of Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, stand-up comedian Tim Allen’s interpretation of a man unjustifiably secure in his knowledge of power tools and in his ability to communicate with his wife and sons through grunting. Here are some facts about the show that don’t obscure themselves behind a picket fence.

1. TIM ALLEN TURNED DOWN STARRING IN TV VERSIONS OF TURNER AND HOOCH AND DEAD POETS SOCIETY TO GET HIS OWN SITCOM.

Allen told the Los Angeles Times that it seemed like the Disney executives who pitched him those potential shows were already "preparing for failure." When he passed, Disney searched for a producer to develop a sitcom based on Allen’s stand-up character instead, which became Home Improvement. Matt Williams, the creator of Roseanne, was eventually hired for the job.

2. FRANCES FISHER PLAYED JILL IN THE PILOT.

The original idea for the show came from Allen and was titled Hammer Time. Frances Fisher, who is better known for her dramatic work on the stage and in films like Unforgiven and Titanic, was originally cast as Tim's wife, Jill. She shot the pilot episode, but didn't test well with audiences. So she was replaced by Patricia Richardson and the pilot was re-shot for ABC.

3. STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY WAS THE ORIGINAL AL.

Tobolowsky was cast as Tim Taylor’s Tool Time partner. Then, while Home Improvement’s actors and crew waited to find out when ABC would give them the go-ahead on beginning production, Tobolowsky wanted to be able to seek movie roles to keep his growing family financially secure. The actor decided to drop out of the project, and while he missed out on a steady paycheck for nine years, he got to appear in movies like Groundhog Day. "It turned out to be a very good choice for me," said Tobolowsky.

4. RICHARD KARN GOT THE PART BECAUSE OF A MOVING VIOLATION.

The actor got ticketed for rolling through a stop sign after a Macbeth rehearsal in Los Angeles. He was sent to traffic school as a result, where he met an agent who told him about Home Improvement. Karn discovered he knew enough people involved with the show to secure an audition.

5. ASHLEY JUDD WAS "TOO TALENTED" TO PLAY THE TOOL TIME GIRL.

Matt Williams loved Judd at her audition, but felt that she was too talented for the tiny part of the Tool Time girl, which originally went to Pamela Anderson. "I called her agent and told him that she was so good, we would find a way to incorporate her into the series, period,” Williams recalled to Entertainment Weekly. Williams came up with the idea of creating a sister for Tim Allen's character. A few days later, Judd’s agent told Williams that the actress was "not ready to go into television right now. She thinks she has a feature career."

6. RANDY WAS ACTUALLY OLDER THAN BRAD.

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On the show, Brad Taylor (Zachery Ty Bryan) is the older brother to Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and Mark (Taran Noah Smith). But Thomas was actually the oldest of the three; he was born on September 8, 1981—one month earlier than Bryan.

7. THE TOOL TIME AUDIENCE WAS PART OF THE HOME IMPROVEMENT STUDIO AUDIENCE.

Along with the perk of possibly appearing on an episode, people wanted to go to Home Improvement tapings because Allen was known to use some off-color language and improvise.

8. ALLEN'S CLOTHES CAME FROM COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES IN MICHIGAN.

Even though a rule was put in place that only schools from Allen's home state of Michigan would get the free advertising, the costume department supervisor was accidentally allowed to give the go-ahead to put Allen in a Wofford College sweatshirt in the 1996 episode “Al’s Video.” Wofford College is in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

9. A LOT OF WORK WENT INTO THE BOB VILA EPISODES.

In their hot rod race in “The Great Race II,” a Burbank Airport runway was shut down entirely to shoot the climactic scene.

10. WILSON’S FULL NAME WAS WILSON W. WILSON.

He was played by Earl Hindman, who died of lung cancer in 2003 at 61 years old. In the series finale curtain call, his full face was revealed to audiences.

11. THE WHITE HOUSE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED GETTING HILLARY CLINTON TO APPEAR ON THE SHOW.

A 1995 memo released to the public last year showed that Hillary Clinton’s press secretary Lisa Caputo reached out to chief-of-staff Maggie Williams about the "wild idea" of having the then-First Lady appear on the “most popular television show on the air.” The show’s producers were "willing to do a show on women, children, and family issues or a show on whatever issues Hillary would like." Clearly, it wasn’t meant to be.

12. THE SHOW HAD ITS OWN VIDEO GAME.

In 1994, Super Nintendo released "Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit." The premise? When a line of power tools that the Binford tool company named after Tim Taylor went missing, Tim traveled from soundstage to soundstage fighting actors dressed as dinosaurs and other creatures to get the tools back, using only the tools he currently has on him—such as the always-convenient grappling hook.

13. JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS LEFT THE SHOW DURING THE FINAL SEASON.

Thomas left the show to focus on school. When he came back to guest star in the final season’s holiday episode, Allen told Thomas he was “confused” about his reasons for leaving the show. After walking away from the role of Randy Taylor to further his education, Thomas had agreed to appear in some movies. Though Thomas did not appear in the series finale, in 2013 he guest starred on Tim Allen’s new show, Last Man Standing.

14. ALLEN AND RICHARDSON TURNED DOWN A LOT OF MONEY TO MAKE A NINTH SEASON.

Richardson was offered $25 million to do a ninth season; Allen was offered double that. The two declined, and Home Improvement ended after eight seasons and 203 episodes.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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10 of the Best True Crime Documentaries You Can Stream Right Now

A still from Frank Serpico (2017).
A still from Frank Serpico (2017).
IFC Films

Is the true crime genre going anywhere? Probably not. Since Errol Morris’s The Thin Blue Line premiered in 1988 and helped free an innocent man accused of murder, filmmakers and viewers have developed a bottomless appetite for movies based on true stories that shed light on some of the darker sides of the human condition. Check out some of the best true crime documentaries you can stream right now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other platforms.

1. I Love You, Now Die (2019)

Teenagers in love Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy nourished their long-distance relationship via text messaging. But as Conrad’s moods grew darker, Michelle believed the best way to help her boyfriend would be to encourage him to take his own life. That dynamic sets the stage for a dramatic trial in Massachusetts that asks whether it's possible to be responsible for taking someone’s life via text.

Find It: HBO

2. Frank Serpico (2017)

An honest cop among thieves in late 1960s and early 1970s New York, Frank Serpico helped bring down corrupt officers and inspired the 1973 film Serpico starring Al Pacino. This film goes inside the mind of the man who made sure justice was being served—even at the risk of his own life.

Find it: Hulu

3. Dead Man's Line (2017)

In July 1977, a man named Tony Kiritsis phoned police in Indianapolis and told them he was holding a hostage named Richard Hall at gunpoint. But this was no typical crime: Kiritsis had strapped his shotgun to Hall's neck with a dead man's switch that would set off the trigger if cops shot and killed him. When he marched Hall out on the street, cops were helpless to intervene, which set off an astonishing chain of events. For Kiritsis, this dramatic display was personal, vengeful, and meant to be a spectacle—the result of a vendetta against the Hall family. What follows is a twist-laden and arresting portrait of a man who believes he's doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Find It: Amazon Prime

4. Out of Thin Air (2017)

In 1974, two men in Iceland disappeared. A police investigation led to six men, who were all eventually sent to prison after confessing to murder. Decades later, new evidence casts doubt on their version of events—and whether they killed anyone at all.

Find It: Netflix

5. Long Shot (2017)

Though it’s more of a short film than a feature, this examination of Juan Catalan’s fight to be recognized as innocent of committing murder is notable for his attorney’s methodology: Catalan couldn’t have done it because he was at a baseball game. How they go about proving that turns into one of the biggest left-field twists you’re ever likely to see.

Find It: Netflix

6. Killing for Love (2016)

When married couple Derek and Nancy Haysom are found dead in their Virginia home in 1985, suspicion falls on their daughter, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Jens Söring. Was Jens a co-conspirator, or just a pawn in Elizabeth’s game? Watch and find out.

Find It: Hulu

7. Amanda Knox (2016)

College student Amanda Knox grabbed headlines in 2007 and beyond when her roommate, Meredith Kercher, was found dead in the apartment the two shared in Italy. What follows is a grueling path through an often-impenetrable Italian justice system.

Find It: Netflix

8. Dream/Killer (2015)

Bill Ferguson lived every parent's worst nightmare: In 2005, his son Ryan was sentenced to 40 years in prison for murder. But the elder Ferguson is convinced Ryan is innocent, setting off an unlikely chain of events that will test the foundation of the judicial system in America.

Find It: Netflix

9. Soaked in Bleach (2015)

The suicide of Kurt Cobain in 1994 was eulogized as a rock star tragedy. Soaked in Bleach ponders whether there was more to Cobain's life—and death—than was originally reported.

Find It: Amazon Prime

10. Without Charity (2013)

In 2000, police discovered a trio of construction workers who had been murdered at an expensive home in Indiana. As police dig deeper, they discover the puzzling presence of Charity Payne, a woman who might have helped a group of robbers to break in and commit the murders.

Find It: Amazon Prime