Home Improvement was a hit 1990s Disney sitcom that aired from September 17, 1991 - May 25, 1999 on the ABC Television Network.
The year is 1990. George H.W. Bush is elected U.S. President; the Persian Gulf Crisis is in full effect; and stand-up comedian Timothy Allen Dick, known professionally as Tim Allen, is one of the most successful stand-up comedians of the day.
During the Summer of 1990, veteran TV producers Carmen Finestra, David McFadzean & Matt Williams (who met as staff writers for the hit 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show) conceived a situation comedy pilot titled Hammer Time.
Hammer Time was set up to be a spoof on This Old House with Bob Vila; soon after seeing the Showtime Television Network special Men are Pigs, Walt Disney Company Chairman/CEO Mike Eisner, backed by his right-hand man Jeff Katzenberg, suggested Hammer Time be re-tooled as a vehicle for Tim Allen.
By January 1991, Hammer Time was rechristened Home Improvement, and joining Tim in the cast were 40-year-old veteran actress Patricia Richardson as Jill Taylor, wife of 12 years to Tim, the host of a fictional local cable TV show in Detroit, Michigan called Tool Time; 9-year-old Zachery Bryan as eldest son Brad; 9-year-old Jonathan Thomas as middle son Randy; and 6-year-old Taran Smith as youngest son Mark, along with 48-year-old character actor Earl Hindman as Taylor family neighbor Dr. Wilson Wilson, Jr., Ph.D. and struggling 35-year-old actor Richard Wilson, known professionally as Richard Karn, portraying Tool Time sidekick Al Borland.
Rounding out the cast was 23-year-old Playboy Playmate Pamela Anderson as Binford Tool Girl Lisa.
The pilot episode of Home Improvement was taped at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California on April 19, 1991 and soon afterwards picked up for the Fall 1991 TV season by the ABC Television Network.
That Summer, a tabloid threatened a major revelation about Tim Allen: in October 1978, Tim, then aged 25, was arrested for attempting to sell Cocaine--a charge he pled guilty to and cooperated with local authorities on.
While awaiting sentencing, Tim worked at a local Sporting Goods Store in his adopted hometown of Detroit, Michigan and began to straighten his life out, making his stand-up comedy debut on a dare in February 1979.
9 months later, in November 1979, Tim was sentenced to 8 years in Prison at the Sandstone Federal Prison in Minnesota; Tim was released from Sandstone in March 1982 after serving 2 1/2 years behind bars, and paroled.
In 1984, Tim married his college sweetheart, Laura Deibel, and found work as an Advertising Executive while resuming his Stand-up Comedy career on the side whenever he could; that December, just before Christmas, Tim and Laura became proud parents of a daughter, Kady Deibel Dick.
Rather than allow the tabloid to reveal his criminal past, Tim talked to execs at both ABC and The Walt Disney Company and decided to come clean about his criminal past; the positive spin worked.
Home Improvement premiered at 8 P.M. ET/PT on the ABC Television Network on September 17, 1991.
The series debuted at the top of the ratings, and by the end of its rookie season, tied with Cheers at #4 in the Nielsen ratings; ABC execs moved Home Improvement to Wednesday nights at 9 P.M. ET/PT in August 1992, where it would go head-to-head against the struggling sitcom Seinfeld on NBC.
By midseason, Home Improvement beat Seinfeld so consistently, NBC moved Seinfeld to Thursday nights at 9 P.M. ET/PT just to be given a chance to catch on, a move making Seinfeld the classic it is now.
In September 1994, ABC moved Home Improvement to Tuesday nights at 9 P.M. ET/PT, where ratings continued to prosper; that November, Tim made his big-screen debut in the 1994 Disney movie The Santa Clause.
In August 1995, Disney bought the ABC Television Network and related companies such as ABC Productions.
In August 1998, 16-year-old Jonathan Thomas, by this time a burgeoning teen idol, decided to leave Home Improvement to concentrate on his education, eventually graduating from Harvard in 2004; his character, Randy Taylor, was written out on the September 29, 1998 telecast as having become an exchange student for a year in Costa Rica with his longtime girlfriend, Lauren (played by recurring guest star Courtney Peldon).
On January 11, 1999, despite ratings still in the Top 10, Tim Allen announced that Season 8 of Home Improvement would be its last after turning down an offer to do one final season; the series finale was taped on April 9, 1999.
On May 25, 1999, ABC celebrated the 8-year success of Home Improvement by airing a 2-hour Series Finale from 8-10 P.M. ET/PT consisting of the 90-minute finale and a 30-minute Retrospective (though several ABC stations aired the Season 3 finale of Spin City at 9:30 P.M. ET/PT).
Since then, reruns of Home Improvement have continued to flourish, thanks to Nickelodeon, TBS, TV Land, and, as of September 2013, The Hallmark Channel.
Home Improvement was produced by Wind Dancer Productions, Inc. in association with Walt Disney Television.
Home Improvement is distributed by Buena Vista Television.