Stand-up comic Tim Allen, who specialized in macho humor, brought his act to television in this comic saga of a man and his tool belt. Tim ‘The Tool Man’ Taylor was a local celebrity in Detroit with his cable TV show ‘Tool Time’, a cheerful mix of fix-it advice and humor sponsored by Binford Tools. His answer to every problem: more power! At home he was a bit of a klutz however and when he strapped on his tool belt and whipped out his drill like a six-shooter, the kids cleared out. Frustrated wife Jill (Patricia Richardson) tried to keep him away from the appliances but to no avail; sons Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan), Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and winsome little Mark (Taran Noah Smith) offered varying degrees of help’ and neighbor Wilson Wilson (Earl Hindman), never clearly seen over the backyard fence, philosophized about the meaning of everything. Al Borland (Richard Karn) was Tim’s knowing helper on ‘Tool Time’, along with Lisa (Pamela Anderson
), the buxom ‘tool girl’ (succeeded by Heidi (Debbie Dunning) in 1993).
Stories revolved mostly around the normal evolution of Tim’s stable, nuclear family, especially the friends and dating habits of his growing boys. Brad was the first son to enter high school (1995), where he became a big man on the soccer team. Serious Randy and his girlfriend Lauren (Courtney Peldon) became involved in environmental and social issues, at one time boycotting Tim’s employer Binford Tools, a major polluter. As for Mark, he spent a season dressed in black, obsessed with heavy metal music; fortunately, he grew out of it. There were developments involving the adults as well. Jill pursued a master’s degree in psychology, which had her out of the house at times and doing practice counseling when she was home. Al became engaged to Ilene, but after a long relationship they broke up. ‘Tool Time’ girl Heidi, on the other hand, married and became pregnant (as was actress Debbe Dunning at the time). In a typical comedy of errors, Tim delivered her baby in November 1996.
The first of the boys to leave the nest was Randy, in late 1998, when actor Jonathan Taylor Thomas decided he should devote himself full-time to his real-life college studies. On the show, Randy and Lauren left to save the rain forest in Costa Rica. In the highly rated series finale, Tim quit ‘Tool Time’ after a fight with Binford Tools; Al married his new love, chubby Trudy, in the Taylors’ backyard; and Jill accepted a position at a clinic in Bloomington. When she wavered over leaving their beloved home, Tim came up with an ingenious solution: they jacked up the house and took it with them! The biggest surprise, however, came at the close of the show, as the cast took their bows and viewers, at last, got to see Wilson’s face.