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Home Improvement… Where Are They Now?

August 3, 2007

My Dad and I never really watched any TV together when I was a kid, but the one show I do remember us enjoying was Home Improvement. It’s the typical “guy” show, yet fit into the family viewing category as well, which is probably what made it so popular for so long.

The show lasted from 1991-1999, which is a very impressive run. It centered on the lives of the Taylor family, which included Tim and Jill and their three trouble-making sons; Mark, Bradley and Randy.

One of the main focuses of the show, and one of it’s key story lines surrounded Tim’s popular “home improvement” television show, Tool Time.


hi_timallen.jpgTim Taylor (Tim Allen)

Tim was, without a doubt, the main star of this show. Unlike many other sitcoms where it’s usually a ensemble cast, Tim was the character that was far and beyond the leading man. He was your typical “man’s man”. He likes everything a guy is supposed to like, and he (tried) to be the best handy man he could be. In addition to his handy-man television show, he also had a great interest in working on “hot rods”. One of the main sets of the show was in the family’s garage, where Tim was continually working on his car.

However, as much as Tim talked and acted like he was “Mr. Fix It”, he was actually quite incompetent when it came to actually fixing anything. He basically screwed up anything he tried to build or repair.

You all know who Tim Allen is, as he’s gone on to have a (questionably) successful film career. He’s starred in several films, both good and bad, but is still considering a pretty big comedic star.

While Home Improvement was still in production, Tim voiced the popular character Buzz Lightyear, in the highly successful animated film, Toy Story. He reprised his role in Toy Story 2 as well.

In 1994, he starred in the successful, yet critically-panned, Santa Clause.

When Home Improvement finished up in ’99, time starred in the incredibly funny and surprising space move spoof, Galaxy Quest. It went on to gross $71 Million at the box office, which proved Allen could be more than just a TV star.

His next three films weren’t quite as successful. Who is Cletus Tout?, Joe Somebody and Big Trouble were all box office bombs. He was in need of a hit, so he signed on for a second Santa Clause. The sequel was a big box office success, grossing $139 Million.

In 2004, Allen once again turned to a successful genre of his, filming the Christmas comedy, Christmas with the Kranks, alongside Jamie Lee Curtis. It was a moderate success, grossing over $73 Million.

In 2006, Allen went back to starring in goofy comedies, and both of them were absolutely horrible. First came The Shaggy Dog, which was absolutely painful to watch. Then came Zoom, which was so awful, I couldn’t even bring myself to finish it. I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like it, as it was a massive failure with viewers, grossing only $11 Million.

What does Tim Allen do after having box office failures? Well, he turns to Christmas family films of course. Apparently two of them weren’t enough, so we were treated to Santa Clause 3 at the end of 2006. It barely managed to do half what the previous Clause movies did, so hopefully that’s the last we see of that horrid franchise.

In 2007, Allen hit gold with the comedy Wild Hogs. It was the highest grossing live action film of Allen’s career, coming in at $168 Million.

Wild Hogs may be enough to Allen’s career a little jump start. He has signed on to star in the David Mamet film, Redbelt. Mamet is a very talented writer, and usually focuses on thrillers or dramas, so I’m interested to see what comes out of this one. We haven’t really seen Allen in anything but comedies and family fluff, so if this film is in fact a drama, it’ll be one to keep an eye on.

Tim Allen is one of the rare TV stars who go on to have a successful film career without ever having to return to television. Even though his films may be nothing special, he has carved himself a pretty decent niche in Hollywood.


hi_patriciarichardson.jpgJill Taylor (Patricia Richardson)

Jill Taylor was the mother of the family, and although her role wasn’t that deep, she did provide a good comic foil to Tim and served an important role on the show.

Patricia Richardson hit it big when she landed her role on Home Improvement. She was mainly stuck in one episode appearances on various TV shows, with the odd TV movie thrown in.

After Home Improvement went off the air, Jill landed a one episode guest role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Her next acting work wasn’t until 2001, when she appeared as Gladys Baker in the made-for-TV film Blonde, about the life of Marilyn Monroe. In 2001, she also had a role in the forgettable film, Viva Las Nowhere, which also starred James Caan and Daniel Stern.

She returned to TV in 2002, with a successful run on Strong Medicine. She played Dr. Andy Campbell, a doctor at a Women’s clinic. She appeared in 59 episodes from 2002-2005.

After Strong Medicine, she joined the cast of The West Wing, for a role that lasted nine episodes, going in 2006.

Richardson has recently completed the comedy, Out of Omaha, which looks to be a direct-to-DVD release. She has also recently finished filming a role in Lost Dream, which stars no one I’ve ever heard from.

It seems to be the trend that most “mothers” from popular sitcoms don’t go on to have much post-show success. She did however, have two successful runs in television, so for the most part, you’d have to say she’s had a pretty successful career.


hi_zacherytybryan.jpgBradley Taylor (Zachery Ty Bryan)

Bradley was the oldest of the Taylor children, and was the one who got into the most trouble. He was arrested in one episode as well as got caught smoking marijuana. He was more of a jock than his other brothers and worked hard to achieve a career in soccer. He ended up receiving a college scholarship to play the sport.

During the run of Home Improvement, Bryan managed to land a few other roles. Mostly just TV movies and the odd TV appearance. He did appear on two episodes of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, as well as a role in the Sinbad comedy, First Kid. In 1997 he had a lead role opposite Kirsten Dunst in True Heart, a film about a brother and sister who’s plane crash lands.

I didn’t expect we’d see much of him once Home Improvement completed. He never seemed like he had much acting ability.

In 1999, he did land a small role in the awful, The Rage: Carrie 2. Zachery Ty Bryan has surprisingly managed to continue getting acting work, having appeared in many television shows over the past seven years.

Among the shows he’s appeared on (and most were in one episode roles) include Touched by an Angel, ER, Boston Public, The Outer Limits, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, Veronica Mars, Cold Case, Shark, among others.

He has also appeared in many TV movies and films that are not really worth mentioning. His most noteworthy post-Home Improvement film appearance was in Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift.

He is not currently filming any projects, yet I expect him to continue along the same career path. He actually did an alright job in F&TF, and there’s a chance he could build on that. Otherwise, it’s likely he’s stuck with guest appearances on various TV shows.


hi_jontaylorthomas.jpgRandy Taylor (Jonathan Taylor Thomas)

Randy was the middle Taylor child, and was known for his quick wit and snarky remarks that always got Tim in trouble with Jill. He’s character evolved over the years, and eventually turned towards being an environmentalist, which landed him in Costa Rica for a year.

So, good ol’ JTT. I remember when he was on the cover of every preteen magazine there was. My sister had covered her walls with posters of him. He was the “it” teenage heartthrob of his time.

Like Zachery Ty Bryan, Thomas also had quite the busy schedule when he wasn’t filming Home Improvement. He had many roles during the span of the show.

The highlights include voicing the young Simba in the Lion King, starring in the Chevy Chase comedy Man of the House, as Tom Sawyer in Tom & Huck, in Wild America with fellow teen heartthrob Devon Sawa, and as the voice of Pinocchio in The Adventures of Pinocchio. He has also voiced the character, Scarecrow Jr., in many Oz-related cartoon projects.

His post-Improvement career hasn’t been quite as successful, but that was to be expected.

In 1999, he appeared in the films Speedway Junky and Walking Across Egypt. He has had a few roles in TV films, and has also appeared in an episode of Veronica Mars, two episodes of Smallville, and three of 8 Simple Rules. He also voiced a character in an episode of The Simpsons.

He hasn’t had any work since 2005, when he voiced a character in the little-known movie Thru the Moebius Strip. He has attended college, and it’s likely he’s going to enter a career in something other than acting.


hi_taransmith.jpgMark Taylor (Taran Noah Smith)

Mark was the youngest of the boys, so he also became the brunt of most of his older brothers’ jokes and pranks. He always seemed like a weakling to me, and the least likable of the children. He was always ratting on his brothers.

At one point, Mark had a goth phase, which thankfully didn’t last very long. He then became fond of music and cooking, and I think if the show had lasted longer, we would have seen Mark “come out of the closet”.

I’m wondering, what with all these kids have three named names? It’s annoying. Anyways, I don’t think anyone expected Smith to have much of a career after Home Improvement. He was never an important character on the show.

Well, if you expected him to disappear, you were right. His only job after 1999, was voicing a character in one episode of the animated show, Batman Beyond. I expected him to have a tough time getting work, but wow, not that hard of a time.

He has appeared as himself on shows such as E! True Hollywood Story, 20/20 and Child Star Confidential, but those are hardly acting gigs.

In 2001 he married Heidi Van Pelt, who is sixteen years older than him. They had a child together, but recently divorced in February of 2007. In 2005 they started a vegan restaurant called Playfood in California, and it’s likely that is what he spends his time on these days.


hi_richardkarn.jpgAl Borland (Richard Karn)

Al Borland was the popular chubby co-host on Tim’s Tool Time television show. He was also Tim’s best friend, yet Tim was constantly making jokes and playing pranks on Al. Al was always one of my favorite characters on the show, and at times, I hoped he would sucker punch the annoying Tim, square in the face. Never happened, unfortunately.

I always thought Richard Karn may be a surprise success and land some decent roles. He had good comic ability, and in a good role, could thrive. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had much of an acting career since Home Improvement ended.

His most notable appearances have been in MVP 2: Most Vertical Primate, Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch, Air Buddies, and in an episode of That 70’s Show.

He also hosted 4 episodes of The Family Feud, as well as appearing on E! True Hollywood Story and World Poker Tour.

Maybe he’s holding out for a Home Improvement movie? I’d watch it!


The Other Characters…

hi_earlhindman.jpgWilson (Earl Hindman)

Wilson was Tim’s wise neighbour; the one Tim always went to for advice. Wilson was famous for the fact that you never actually saw his face, as it would always be partially blocked by a fence, scarf or various other items. It added a sense of mystery about this wise, well-traveled neighbour.

Hindman’s post-Improvement career includes one episode roles on Law & Order, Deadline and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

His last television appearance was in 2003 on Tim Allen’s A User’s Guide To Home Improvement.

Sadly, Earl Hindman passed away on December 29, 2003 of lung cancer.


hi_pamela-anderson.jpgLisa (Pamela Anderson)

Pamela Anderson played Lisa, the first tool time girl on Home Improvement from 1991-1993. She made a couple appearances in 1995 as well as another in 1997. Interestingly, Ashley Judd actually won the role, but declined at the last minute, as her agents urged her to pursue a film career instead (smart decision!).

Pam appeared on 49 episodes of Home Improvement, which really surprised me as I don’t really recall watching any that she appeared in.

We all know how her career has turned out. She went on to star in the film Barbwire, and then quickly landed a lead role in Baywatch, where she stayed for five seasons appeared in over 100 episodes.

In 1998 she landed her own TV show, called V.I.P., which lasted four seasons. She has had two other TV shows since V.I.P., which include the animated series Stripperella and the bookstore comedy, Stacked.

She is arguably the biggest sex symbol of her time, and has been much more successful than anyone could have predicted. She is currently working in Las Vegas, as part of a magic show, which she says she absolutely loves. Just recently she announced she is retiring from acting, and wants to focus on “illusions”, as it is her new passion. Ok, good luck with that, Pam.


hi_debbedunning.jpgHeidi (Debbe Dunning)

Heidi was the second Tool Time girl, appearing on the show from 1992-1999. She appeared in three times the episodes that Pamela did; 147 in total.

Dunning’s career has been pretty much non-existent since Home Improvement came to an end eight years ago. Her only notable work was in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

She is currently with her husband of ten years, whom she has two children with. It’s likely she’s given up acting and is focusing on her family full time.

If anything, she should be happy to know she looks a helluva lot better now than Pam does!


hi_blakeclark.jpgHarry (Blake Clark)

Harry was the owner of Harry’s Hardware, a popular hangout for Tim. Clark appeared in 23 episodes during the show’s run.
He is an acclaimed character actor, and has appeared in several films and TV shows.

He mostly appears in Adam Sandler films, but has appeared in many others as well. Some of his credits include The Waterboy, Boy Meets World, Little Nicky, Joe Dirt, Corky Romano, Mr. Deeds, 50 First Dates, Click and I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.


Home Improvement was a great comedy and a great family show during the 90’s. It lasted eight seasons, which is an accomplishment in itself.

Tim Allen has gone on to be a fairly successful comedic leading man, while the rest of the cast’s career have had a downward spiral, which is par for the course when it comes to successful sitcoms.

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out my previous Where Are They Now? articles.

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11 comments

  1. Aurgh
    Urgh
    Ugh
    !


  2. home improvement rocks !!!!!love tim allen


  3. i enjoy reading ur stuff but seriously some of the stuff you say is horrible is in fact good we read this to see where they are now not what u think about their movies or movie choices


  4. A good read thanks…


  5. Dude, don’t forget Jonathan Taylor Thomas in that Christmas movie with Jessica Biel.


  6. One of my favourite shows. I actually travelled from Toronto to Burbank a couple of times to see an episode being taped. I never really liked Tim all that much, but Pat Richardson was pretty much the perfect TV mom, and I enjoyed the developing relationships between the brothers. Kind of a dysfunctional family that worked – a rarity! I hope Jonathan can find an outlet for his talents. He is so smart! And I guess we’ll never know the real reason why he didn’t sign on for the finale.


  7. Does anyone know why Jonathan Taylor Thomas didn’t sign on for the finale?


  8. my face


  9. Zachary Ty Bryan was also on an episode of Burn Notice early this year (2008).


  10. that show was funny and good, taran noah smith was the most unsuccessful in the whole show!


  11. I like to watch Veronica Mars episodes as well Lost. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.



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