While things turned around in the final third of the episode, this week’s episode of Modern Family has to be in the running for worst of the season.
Everything about the episode felt off, the humor was flat, the story structure was all out of place (Cam and Mitchell’s plot wasn’t introduced till after the first commercial break) and the episode never recovered from a very rough opening act.
Our first element of the story is Luke and Manny who are competing in an egg drop competition for school and both of them are looking to their parents for support. Luckily for them, Jay and Claire are super competitive and both parents are sucked in to the contest. As the two parents tip toe around diving in to take over the projects themselves, Alex acts as a foil for Claire and Luke as they try and steal Alex’s winning prototype from her own competition. The plot only allows for a couple bad jokes, a flash of the adults competitive sides, and one good scene where Claire shows off a likable crazy/evil side with Alex. The plot takes no unexpected turns and when it is all said and done we find out Manny and Luke were setting up their parents to get involved all along. Manny, surprise, wasn’t able to keep the secret and tells their parents the boy’s evil plan. The laughs were few and far between here, but at least they kept evil Claire away.
Cam and Mitchell are interviewing potential adoptive mothers and we get to see them interview one of the candidates. What starts out as a routine plot line between the two, i.e. butting heads, takes a nice turn by actually not pitting the two against one another for a change. After Mitchell stops correcting every factual mistake the surrogate makes, the two sing a little song for her and win her over; even if Cam was a little pitchy. Cam and Mitchell bend over backwards to please their guest, even letting her find the house’s feng shui, but Cam isn’t able to let the Pitchy comment go. After a series of comedic non-starters the surrogate decides to give her baby to the two and Cam nails the biggest laugh of the night. Cam decides to sing the surrogate a celebratory song; unfortunately his song choice was poor. Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now,” and this lyric in particular, “Baby please don’t go…/If you leave me now, you take away the very heart of me,” sends the surrogate and her baby running into motherhood; great laugh.
Phil, as usual, has the most successful plot line as we watch him prepare and put on a real estate seminar. The comedic moments are sort of classic Phil; flirting with Gloria, overselling his mouse pad prize, being adorably goofy, and meticulously planning his seminar, but Phil hitting his classics makes him the funniest part of the episode. Also included is Gloria and Haley who are supposed to be helping Phil out, but they bolt after rehearsals and get stranded at the salon. It’s here that we get one of the most surprising elements Modern Family has pulled on the show to date, a bit of sincere failure and reality the show rarely brooches. Phil’s presentation bombs and he is depressed and when Haley and Gloria finally show up we see Phil react in a way we never have seen before on the show; he is angry. They curbed this moment rather quickly into a sweet/funny moment with Gloria, but it was almost shocking to see the show get serious for an all too brief minute. I wonder if we will see the fallout from Phil’s failure.
All in all, the episode was full of a lot of jokes that failed and little to no plot development in any of the stories. Writing this up I had a hard time remembering what happened in the episode and that isn’t a good sign so quickly after airing. I applaud the creative team for showing us a side of the show they almost never touch on, but that can’t make up for the show not being funny. One of the weakest episodes of the season, I hope the show at least gets some laughs back next week.
-“And you’ll go through life unmanned,” Terrible
-Gloria’s phone call, crazy brilliance.
-What the hell was that grape and chicken wing thing from Jay?
-“Shhhhhhhhh!” Thank you Phil.
-“Why would you be talking to yourself?”
-And what is this, “You know it just irritates me,” saying Jay is doing?
-Can we never have Cam and Mitchell on the same side? Why are they always against each other?
-“I want to be blown away like everyone else.” That must be a hell of a mouse pad.
-Here we go. Positivity with Cam and Mitchell in a song, how are they going to ruin it?
-That took two seconds.
-“Be careful that can get really creepy fast.”
-Phil is the only thing working this episode, and it is a lesser effort for him.
-I am liking this side of Claire conniving with Alex.
-Ouch, poor song choice Cam. Best laugh of the episode.
-Really, we are going to put her on the pedestal.
-Phil’s getting serious, Ty Burrell showing some range, oh and he gets a hug from Gloria, a win all around.
-“I’m not entirely sure there wasn’t a twin in there you bumped off.”