Home Improvement had a really strange premise, and here are 10 things about the 90s sitcom which still has us scratching our heads.
Amidst a crowded assortment of 90s sitcoms that focused on the raucous, rowdy nature of family life, Home Improvement carved out its own niche. It wasn’t as saccharine as Full House or as bawdy as Roseanne, as cynical as Seinfeld, or take itself as seriously as Frasier. It managed to strike a balance between slapstick comedy and feel-good comedic melodrama. It focused on reckless patriarch Tim Taylor balancing his fictitious home improvement show, with his life at home shared by his caustic wife Jill and their three boys.
Peppered among the immature moments with power tools were instances of true heart and hilarity. Still, throughout its many seasons, certain plot points started to stand out in their irreconcilability. Why did Al always appear to be wearing the same shirt? Why didn’t Tim ever get that pipe in the basement fixed? Below, you’ll find ten things about Home Improvement that would confuse even Wilson.
Why Tim Still Had A Show
Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor was the host of a regionally syndicated home improvement show called “Tool Time”,” produced and sponsored by Binford Tools. Every week there was a “salute” to some different theme like woodworking, or lawnmowers, and a subsequent project that he would work on assisted by his co-host Al “This land is” Borland.
With the alarming frequency with which accidents happened on the set of the show, you’d think Binford Tools would have pulled the plug long ago. Not only was there a danger of Tim actually getting hurt as he continuously asked for “More Power!” to be added to the project, but also of a rise in home injuries resulting from the incredibly hazardous home improvement advice he dispensed.
The Pipe In The Basement
Throughout the show, whenever Tim walked downstairs to get something from the basement, he always, without fail, hit his head on a metal pipe sticking out too low. In the very first episode, “Wild Kingdom,” he smacks his head on the metal pipe and curses. It even happened when he went back up the stairs.
Why didn’t he just do something about the pipe? Why didn’t he remember it was there? Why didn’t he at least wrap it in some sort of foam? It never happened to any other character on the show, but his head injuries would explain some things…
Wilson was the Taylors mysterious neighbor who lived next door, his face perpetually obscured by the tall fence that separated their backyards. Wilson turned out to be related to the Wilsons from the Beach Boys, and, in one memorable episode, he sang with them on the show.
Wilson’s full countenance was never revealed and was always obscured by the fence or another prop (e.g. a giant house plant, or a sign). Tim, Jill, the boys, and even Al would go to Wilson for his sagacious advice, seemingly never perturbed that he was so reclusive. Supposedly he was based on the neighbor of a young Tim Allen, who couldn’t see over the fence.
Why Al Never Replaced Tim
A running gag on the show consisted of Al “Wild as a” Borland continuously being praised for his craftsmanship while Tim got completely overlooked. Tim would get disgruntled and always remind people that Al was his assistant, who assisted him. Al very rarely corrected adoring fans of the mix-up.
While Al was getting mistaken for the real host of the show, the obvious question was always why Al didn’t just replace Tim as the host. Tim was an insurance nightmare and a huge safety liability, whereas Al was patient, organized, and have virtually no ego.
Why Jill Considered Herself A Psychiatrist
When we’re first introduced to Jill Taylor, she’s a housewife who then goes back to school to get her psychology degree. Her ultimate plan is to be a psychiatrist, something which her husband Tim consider to be a bit of a pipedream. He tolerates her going back to school, but doesn’t really think shrinks do anything useful except take suckers for their money.
Being a student never stopped Jill from acting like a full-blown psychiatrist, trying to solve the problems of people around her with some applied psychological theories. When she tried to console Al after the death of his mother, she almost ruined the funeral. For once, Tim wasn’t the biggest disaster in the room.
Why Al And Time Were Still Friends
Tim was never very kind to Al on “Tool Time,” and he wasn’t very kind to Al outside of their show, either. Onset, Tim always found ways to make fun of Al’s name, the flannel shirts he wore, or the fact that he was too much of a “sissy” to handle “more power” in a project (Al knew enough not to secure himself an unnecessary trip to the ER).
When Al came over to the house or they saw each other outside of work, Tim mocked the fact that he liked to cook, liked to go to Jill’s book club meetings, and lived with his mother. He also made fun of both Al’s weight and his mother’s weight constantly. It’s amazing Al stuck around as long as he did—but then, that shows what a great guy Al was.
All Of The Random College Sweatshirts
Tim Taylor—like actor Tim Allen—grew up in Michigan, and so it made a certain amount of sense that he would wear the sweatshirt of his alma mater. What didn’t make a lot of sense was why he wore so many other college sweatshirts. There are a few reasons that could solve the sweater mystery, but it’s never actually explained in the series.
For one, since Tim Allen frequently discusses Michigan and calls it home, so colleges could have sent him their sweaters to wear on live television as sort of free publicity. Another reason, in-character, could have been that he’s wearing all the sweaters of his favorite college football teams.
How Tim And Jill Could Tolerate Each Other
Tim and Jill Taylor couldn’t have been more different from one another. Tim was a “man’s man” who didn’t believe in being sensitive, believed men knew more about home improvement than women, and didn’t see the point of “girly things” like going to the opera or painting. Jill on the other hand, believed in sharing emotions, that women could be just as smart as men about any project requiring power tools, and that culture and art could improve a person’s well-being.
They fought constantly, and Tim never completely respected her desire to go to school and work outside the home. It’s amazing they lasted as long as they did.
Why Al Wore The Same Shirts All The Time
Like Tim in his college football sweatshirts, there was a certain look that Al boasted more than a few times. He seemed to wear the same flannel shirt, or variations of it, every time he was on screen. There are a few reasons we can surmise for the uniformity of his wardrobe.
Al had a habit of jumping into a relationship with the first woman that took an interest in him. Was this because he lived with his ailing mother, who, by the way, was never seen onscreen? Either he stayed overnight at his girlfriend’s and forgot to pack a bag or frequently slept overnight at the studio to avoid living with his mother, thus wearing the same shirt. Or his mother was simply the one dressing him.
Why Mark Went Goth
In the last season of the show, big changes were on the horizon. Brad was deciding whether or not he was going to play soccer in Europe or go to college. Randy was preparing to leave for college himself, and their younger brother Mark was coming off of summer into a severe goth phase.
The whole goth subplot might have made for some good melodrama from the writer’s perspective, but it seemed out of left field for Mark. Yes, he was the sensitive one. Yes, he got picked on by his brothers. Yet, it didn’t make sense for him to suddenly be the rudest and the most unpleasant to be around—that title went to Randy and Brad, respectively.