It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Pritchett, Dunphy, and Pritchett-Tucker clans, and thankfully, they came back with a bang in 2011. Between the bike rides, the water guns, and the playhouse squatter, this week’s episode of Modern Family was just what the doctor ordered to get out of the January TV doldrums.

Mitchell and Cam see a stranger in the hot tub, and a sexy stranger at that. Barry (the dishy James Marsden) who moved into the apartment next door mistook the hot tub as shared property, but Cam and Mitchell aren’t exactly filing a complaint. He’s using his unconventional “healing” methods to work his magic on Cam, but Mitchell is skeptical, and thus he emerges as the neurotic side of the relationship. I love the Mitchell/Cam plots, and they’ve been pretty consistently hilarious all season, but must we see the curmudgeon in Mitchell every week? Give the guy another flash mob, for God’s sake. Barry eventually wins over both parties, only before they discover that he’s a squatter… in Lily’s princess castle. So it turns out that ornery Mitchell was right after all.

Claire meanwhile is fighting the war at home, combating a rogue driver speeding down their residential street. Phil, struggling with the decline in the housing market, gets a lead on a house to sell, and must prove himself worthy, via an open house. The drawback? The seller just so happens to be Claire’s hastily driving nemesis. She’s dead set to take the speedster down, and hopes to have Phil on her side, but he’s anxious to out-sell a competing salesman, so he can slide out from second place.

Manny, looking to fit in with the cool kids, has decided to ride his bike to school, only, there’s a problem. As he wheels out his sweet new ride, Jay realizes that it’s complete with a shiny set of… training wheels. Turns out neither Manny nor Gloria can ride. Manny suits up as though he’s ready to play a self-defense dummy, and you know what? The kid’s a natural! Gloria on the other hand? Not so much. She seeks someone gentle, womanly even, to teach her. When Phil’s not available, young Luke steps up, and his super-soaker armed teaching methods are surprisingly effective.

Hopefully 2011 can bring even more Modern Family laughs to the table-- especially in the form of Luke Dunphy moments. That dumb kid is comedy gold. What’d you think? Are you happy to have it back? Enjoy a few of my favorite quotes:

“Mitchell, there’s a stranger in our hot tub!”
“Who is it?”
“You do know what stranger means, don’t you?”-- Mitchell and Cam

“You don’t know how to ride a bike?”
“I know how to ride this bike.”
“Steven Hawking could ride that bike.” -- Jay and Manny

“You wanna test me? I’ve been tested my whole life. They could never find anything.” --Phil

“I never taught anyone anything. But my playdate cancelled, so I was wide open.” --Luke

“I’d like to go, but yet, I don’t want to find parking”
“It’s either but, or yet!”
“You’re lucky no one’s tried to kick your butt, yet.” -- Mitchell and Cam

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