Tim tries to throw a surprise 39th birthday party for Jill, but she suddenly decides to go to Ohio to reacquire her childhood piano. When she finds that it's been converted into a fish tank... See full summary »

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Bud Harper (as Charlie Robinson)
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Jimmy Labriola ...
Benny Baroni (as Jim Labriola)
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Tim tries to throw a surprise 39th birthday party for Jill, but she suddenly decides to go to Ohio to reacquire her childhood piano. When she finds that it's been converted into a fish tank, Tim decides to get it back and restore it as a gift. Written by scgary66

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Comedy | Family

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17 October 1995 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Surprise!
8 December 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One morning, before another episode of Tool Time kicks off, Tim gets a visit from Bud Harper, the new supreme dictator of Binford, who says he has confidence in him to win out their new markets, but he still has his doubts about Al. Therefore, he gives the flannel man a complete make- over: a pink polo shirt with gray vest and slicked back hair. Bud says he's trying to attract the 20-something crowd... and he thinks making Al look like that will do the trick? This guy really IS the typical executive, shut off from the real world and thinks his own outdated, out-of-touch ideology is what's hip. Anyway, on to the show, they'll be replacing plate glass windows. Tim holds the glass in place, while Al suddenly realizes he doesn't have his point driver and so he goes back stage to look for it, still feeling flummoxed without his flannel. You can take the flannel off the man, but you can't take the man out of the flannel. Bottom line: the glass breaks. This time it was Al's fault for forgetting the points for his driver...but then Tim DID let go of the glass. At home, while Jill is away at the library, Tim and the boys prepare for her big 39th birthday surprise party. Why 39? Because at 40, the celebrations stop. Tim has invited all of her friends, including one Julie Zwicki. Jill happens to walk in after that name is spoken and it turns out, she and Julie are not such good friends after all. So, as Tim continues party preparations over at Wilson's, Jill looks through the old family photo album and sees a picture of herself at 8 playing the old piano. She was so upset when Daddy was transferred and gave it away. She wishes she could track it down. Tim feels the same way about his first scroll saw.

The night of the party saw the whole gang at Wilson's house, waiting for the guest of honor. Guests included Marty, Nancy, Heidi, Jill's sister Carrie, Benny, who invited himself, and a very hungry Al. Unfortunately, nobody thought to bring a main dish. Marty brought lobster salad, which he didn't realize Jill was allergic to. Worse yet, Ilene brings balloons that say Happy 40th, instead of 39th. When Tim is asked why they're not waiting until Jill's 40th birthday, Mark tells them his dad's theory on how women fall apart at 40. Figuratively and literally. When Tim goes back to their house to see where Jill was, he gets a call from Ms. Zwicki, asking for directions to the party. Tim gives her erroneous directions that will take her into Canada and hangs up. Crisis averted, now the party can begin, right? Well, unfortunately, plans are about to head south...or rather south west, as Jill had tracked down the family's piano to Toledo, owned by her cousin Henry. Tim tries to stop her, but she is hell-bent on reclaiming that piano, so she takes off. Now what? Tim moves the party over to the Taylor house and acts like a control freak, forbidding Al from eating until the guest of honor arrives. Worse yet, Carrie had to bail for a photography job. Meanwhile in Toledo, Jill drops in on Cousin Henry, who's really cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. He's an eccentric artist who turns worthless junk into overpriced artwork. Unfortunately, Jill's piano was his latest casualty. He's transformed it into some weird contraption that holds not only a fish tank, but a train set. Jill goes home, lamenting over the loss of her musical instrument, but gets a quick pick-me-up when her surprise party is finally able to kick off! Afterwards, she realizes the things in her life now are more meaningful than the things that were long ago. Right on cue, Julie Zwicki actually shows up, and Jill is surprised again, but this time not as pleasantly. In closing, there is good news on the piano front: Tim did manage to convert it back into a piano. And here's where we learn something else Jill sucks at: playing the piano.

Jill takes piano lessons a few episodes later, and really blows chips at that too. For what it's worth, Jill's Surprise Party is an alright episode. It doesn't really stand out, except for the reveal of Jill's piano turned into an aquarium. Cousin Henry should've appeared in more episodes. Also, we get to see a continuation from The First Temptation of Tim where Bud still hasn't warmed up to Al and now goes so far as to make him change his wardrobe. Unfortunately, Bud never does seem to accept Al, except in a Season 6 episode where the two of them actually hang out. So, if you've ever had a surprise party thrown for you, or you went to extreme efforts to throw one for someone else, Jill's Surprise Party should really amuse you.


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