Modern Family does Christmas and the results are quite mixed after a solid start.

Opening the episode with the family in front of a pool, sunbathing is quite the contrast for your typical Christmas episode; the reasoning becoming more clear in the end. Anyways, when the group figures out that they will not be able to spend Christmas together as a whole family, Phil, proposes "Express Christmas" and that they should try and have a party that very night. Sending off everyone in every which direction to try and throw together the Christmas party, the show sets up a lot of interesting dynamics we haven't seen from the show very much; or at all.

Nobody gets a lot of material this week as everyone has something to do, even Lily!, but my favorite pairing was Gloria and Luke; or is it look? The two are off to Gloria's to get the family angel, which tops the tree, and they must brave the treacherous attic. The mispronunciation joke worked quite well here and letting Luke stay consistently smart in the episode was a nice change of pace. I might not have bought Gloria's angel toss, but seeing these two together was an odd and funny combo that I would love to see more of down the line.

Claire was very likable this week and seeing her and Haley as a conniving team was a nice break from their usual butting heads routine. Sent out to get their family's presents, in what looked like a Target commercial, the pair will go to any lengths to get everything on their list in one trip. My favorite beat of the episode was actually Haley's scheming to get Lily's night light and she uses everything she's got. I was just happy the writers didn't find some way to shoehorn something getting broken into their plot line.

Mitchell and Alex are a good team, but their story is reduced to a cheap gag and a couple gay jokes as they pick up the tree. It was very nice to see Lily though! Lily's other dad, Cam, was with Jay as they wrapped their families' presents. Cam is filling Phil's shoes in trying to connect with the father-in-law and the results are just as dry and uninspired for this pair. In fact, outside Cam realizing he attaches too much value to "moments", nothing comes out about these characters we haven't seen.

Phil and Manny are easily the weak link of the episode with an extremely prolonged taser gag going on long beyond believability. Phil gets tasered when Manny freaks out as Phil's Craigslist contact reaches for the Butterball Turkey in the car, confusing himself for the targeted "butterball". Phil was meeting this guy to buy a rare DiMaggio card to try and win over Jay and Manny was skittish after hearing kidnapping is on the rise, everywhere. The suspension of disbelief being asked by the writers surrounding the tasering is absurd as Phil would not be shaking like he does for as long or as violently as he was. It would be one thing if the gag was used to good effect, but the laughs were cheap and their scenes fell completely flat.

Lastly, the sequential destroying/losing of the items was a lame/cheap gimmick that was, again, just too hard to believe in. Not helping things either was the lack of any real surprise or humor in the destruction; any bit of originality would have helped these beats go down that much easier. As it stands, it was pretty hard to swallow.

This week's episode of Modern Family started off strong and seemed to be heading in the right direction by mixing the characters up and sending them out on crazy adventures. A couple plots worked, a couple did nothing special, and the last never got off the ground; and then blew up on the runway. The halfway point of the episode was quite the down turn and it barely stayed alive to make it through to the end. Here is hoping things get stronger after the holiday hiatus.

Bullets:

-Who opens a Christmas episode with people sunbathing?

-I like Luke poking Manny with the kidnapping plot.

-"Luke."

-"Thank god, I've been carrying that around for three years."

-Is this a Target commercial?

-Mitchell and Alex make quite the team.

-"I have two daddies!"

-Haley is devious, what did she have to do to get that shirt though?

-Really sold on Claire's stalling tactics, like the line's behind her faces.

-Really like how they mixed everyone up for some fresh dynamics. Even though Haley and Claire are together they are a team instead of butting heads.

-I can't by Manny being so scared, or that Phil would shake so long or so violently.

-"Never look back, never!"

-Seriously! Everything is going to get broken?

-He still wouldn't be shaking, does anyone believe that this is viable.

-Cam taking his sweater off in background, ha.

-Love how everyone came in the back door and didn't see the snow blower.

Until next week…

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