I recently discovered (while conducting research for an article, actually) that Home Improvement is not available to stream on any major platforms at the moment. This is surprising, given how immensely popular it proved to be in its prime, and still is in some respects - not to mention the fact it would fit right in on Disney+ among its other classic ABC sitcoms. However, star Tim Allen has actually expressed interest in a reunion show, which not only sounds like a fun idea, but would also answer the question of what the rest of the cast has been up to lately.
Created by Carmen Finestra, David McFadzean, and Matt Williams, Home Improvement follows a home renovation TV show host who finds that dealing with common household repairs is often easier than handling family issues (despite experiencing a mishap or two with both). The highly rated comedy ran for eight seasons throughout the 1990s, made a huge star out of Tim Allen (who also earned a Golden Globe for his lead role in 1995), and jump-started a few other notable careers.
The only thing that I wonder about the series now (other than the chances of an official revival) is who from Home Improvement underwent the best career improvements after it ended in 1999? Well, do you know what it is? No, it’s not Tool Time, but it is time to take a look at the hit series’ cast members and find out what has been on their to-do list since, starting with “The Tool Man” himself.
Tim Allen (Tim Taylor)
The acclaimed stand-up comedian’s evolution from convicted drug trafficker to beloved comedy star is one of Hollywood’s most fascinating redemption stories. Not only would he become sitcom royalty on Home Improvement, but he voiced Buzz Lightyear in four Toy Story movies, played Jason “Commander Taggart” Nesmith in Galaxy Quest, and became Old Saint Nick himself in The Santa Clause trilogy.
Even with his latest sitcom, Last Man Standing (which recently had a bizarre Home Improvement crossover episode), ending after nine seasons in 2021, things are not over for the 67-year-old. Next, he is bringing his Tool Time roots to reality as the creator of History Channel's new game show, Assembly Required, which he co-hosts with a familiar face I will mention soon.
Patricia Richardson (Jill Taylor)
A familiar face who guest-starred on Last Man Standing before Tim Allen reappeared as Tim Taylor, is four-time Emmy nominee Patricia Richardson. The early Scream Queen candidate known for cult horror classics like C.H.U.D. and Christmas Evil was actually the second choice to play Jill Taylor, after an early un-aired pilot with Frances Fisher in the role tested poorly.
Since Home Improvement’s finale, the now 70-year-old actress played a doctor on Lifetime Network’s Strong Medicine, Alan Alda’s campaign manager on the final season of The West Wing, and often appeared in guest spots on TV or straight-to-video and low budget movies. She will next be in the drama Barely Afloat with Henry Thomas and Corbin Bernsen, and is producing a documentary about health and environmental concerns surrounding a Tennessee nuclear fuel plant called Acceptable Limits.
Zachery Ty Bryan (Brad Taylor)
Producing has also been the primary objective of Zachary Ty Bryan, who played the eldest brother of the Taylor clan, since he supposedly walked away from acting after playing Thor in a SyFy original film based on the Norse legend in 2009. However, between that and Home Improvement’s 1999 finale, he popped in a few notable films (including infamous sequels The Rage: Carrie 2 and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) and made strong guest appearances on shows like Touched By an Angel, Veronica Mars, and Burn Notice, to name a few.
Now 39, the actor has a few projects he is producing which are in development, such as the comedic crime series Pistol Whipped and Finding 52 - a documentary about a whale, partially funded by Leonardo DiCaprio, many years in the making. Unfortunately, the most recent time Zachery Ty Bryan was in the news was following his arrest for allegedly strangling his girlfriend in October 2020.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Randy Taylor)
It has been a while, however, since we have heard much in the news about Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I can assure you, though, that it is not for any controversial reasons.
As he told People in 2013, Home Improvement’s breakout child actor (who is, otherwise, best known as the voice of Young Simba in 1993’s The Lion King) simply wanted a break from fame after hitting it big at such a young age. Yet, that same year, JTT would appear in his first of four guest spots on Last Man Standing, the last of which also starred Patricia Richardson, and has even directed a few episodes of the sitcom, as well.
Taran Noah Smith (Mark Taylor)
Other than a landing a gig starring on or directing an episode of Last Man Standing, Taran Noah Smith’s story is quite similar to his onscreen older brother. Despite earning a Young Artist Award for his performance on Home Improvement, he would come to realize that acting was not for him at 16, once the show ended, and walked away from the profession completely with only six credits to his name.
However, Taran Noah Smith would soon attract media attention again after his marriage to 33-year-old vegan chef Heidi van Pelt when he was 17, only to divorce and abandon their food manufacturing company six years later. His current job as a submarine pilot instructor was made know when the sight of his own sub arose suspicion at Monterey Bay in July 2019.
Richard Karn (Al Borland)
I always felt bad for Tim Taylor’s Tool Time assistant, Al Borland, as he was clearly more competent and deserving of being the show’s true host. Thus, it was nice to see Richard Karn (sort of) live out that dream in real life by taking over for Louie Anderson as the face of Family Feud from 2002-2006. As an actor, the 65-year-old has more recently and most notably appeared on the Hulu original comedy PEN15 as Maya Erskine’s onscreen father, Fred Peters, and he has also reunited with his friend and Home Improvement co-star Tim Allen on Last Man Standing a few times. However, the former Tool Time co-hosts are gearing up for the ultimate reunion soon for the similarly themed upcoming game show, Assembly Required, on the History Channel.
Debbe Dunning (Heidi Keppert)
Speaking of Assembly Required, I wonder if the show finds a way to include Debbe Dunning, also known as Tool Time’s female assistant and announcer Heidi Keppert. The actress (whose best known role outside the sitcom is, arguably, the fourth installment of the Leprechaun franchise, set in the space) has a lot in common with her Home Improvement character - also being a successful model, a corporate spokesperson, and becoming a mother during the series’ sixth season.
After Home Improvement, acting roles really became more of an occasional thing for her, including a recurring spot on the Fox drama Wicked Wicked Games in the mid-to-late 2000s. More recently, though, she served as the host and producer of the reality show Debbe Dunning’s Dude Ranch Roundup, in which she would travel the country in search of our greatest dude ranches.
Pamela Anderson (Lisa)
It would be easy forget that Debbe Dunning’s Heidi was not the only Tool Girl on Tool Time. That position was previously filled by Lisa, the breakout TV role of Pamela Anderson, for the first two seasons of Home Improvement.
Of course, she would leave the sitcom after finding success as Los Angeles lifeguard C.J. Parker on Baywatch, whom she would also reprise in the 2017 cinematic reboot of the popular series. These days, the Candian-American former Playboy model and actress is best known for her activism with various causes, such as animal rights, AIDS awareness, and the freedom of her friend Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.
Earl Hindman (Wilson W. Wilson)
No family sitcom is complete without an eccentric, but often helpful and friendly, next door neighbor, and no one filled that role better than Wilson on Home Improvement. The wise, old, and mysterious supporting character was played Earl Hindman, who had a solid career in movies, such as the 1985 western Silverado, and TV dramas like Ryan’s Hope prior. The actor’s iconic Home Improvement role would actually earn him the TV Land Award for Favorite Heard-But-Not-Seen Character in 2004. Unfortunately, it would have be accepted posthumously, as Earl Hindman had died the year before, due to lung cancer, at the age of 61.
As much as the idea of a true Home Improvement reunion with the rest of the central cast still sounds interesting to me, I cannot imagine that it would ever feel the same without Earl Hindman as Wilson W. Wilson. That being said, perhaps the recent crossover with Last Man Standing, and Tim Allen and Richard Karn’s upcoming competition series, are all that fans of the long-running sitcom may need as far as a revival. However, we at CinemaBlend will be sure to report whenever the clock happens to strike Tool Time again.