Modern Family returns with a rather light episode, but shows a flash of brilliance in there that makes me continue to wish the creative team would just mix it up once in awhile.

That moment of brilliance was a flashback with Phil as he recounts how he won a lifetime supply of razors. “Two blades, they are never going to top that!” He was a contestant on a Jeopardy-type show back in the early 90’s and after incorrectly answering the first 8 digits of Pi, instead of Banana Cream, I found myself at the end of the funniest bit the show has done all season. This fantastically wrong answer earns Phil a handsome parting gift in the aforementioned lifetime supply of razors, too great a prize for such a failure. The randomness of the answer mixed with the cheesy set and clothing just killed me and I wish the show embraced the awkward/random more often. Phil and a cut-away are their usual outlets for random humor on the show and I really don’t know why they don’t take advantage of this more, with even more characters. Every joke doesn’t need to be a cutaway ala Family Guy, but the show could do well to mix things up more than just once and awhile. More please.

Phil’s end of a lifelong supply of razors isn’t his biggest problem though, as he receives a follow-up call from his doctor with possible bad news after finding a lump under his arm in the cold open. However, Phil missed the call and now he can’t get back in touch with the doctor to see what the news is. To make matters worse, Gloria had a dream of the black rat, which means a bad omen is in store for someone close to her. Gloria, Claire, Haley, and Luke are regulated to the sidelines though and there isn’t a lot happening beyond worrying in the Dunphy house.

Cam and Mitchell find themselves in a battle over whose trophy is best as Mitchell’s newest award causes a bit of crazy feuding in the house. I am glad that they had the self awareness to point out how stupid and childish their bickering was, but that doesn’t excuse how borderline painful it was to watch them go on and on about trophies for the first half of the episode. The end result of Mitchell kicking around Cam’s trophies by accident was another projected and old hat move with those two; luckily the time with them was rather brief.

Lastly, Jay, Manny, and Javier (Manny’s Father) spend a day at the races and the plotline didn’t do much of anything. Jay shows a little bit of respect towards Javier, but he doesn’t concede much more than he would normally whenever they make Jay apologize holding his hat in his hand. Benjamin Bratt is fun on the show, but he is almost too much of a stereotype at times, even more so than Gloria.

The whole gang ends up at the Dunphy’s as Gloria spreads her bleak prophecy for Phil to everyone in the family. When the doctor finally calls Phil back, he learns the prognosis is - gasp - negative and the doctor just wanted to know about some real estate prospect. A predictable and anti-climatic finale to the episode, but what did you expect from Modern Family at this point? What a twist it would have been if Phil got cancer and the show tried to earn some humor out of that.

In the end, the episode was entertaining enough, but Modern Family continues to show no real interest to do anything fresh. The episode showed that it can be weird and surprising with Phil this week, I just wish they would embrace this odd side of the show more often. I will continue to enjoy Modern Family for what it is, but if it wants to earn a slot as one of the finer comedies on TV they need to embrace being different and go against their formula more often.

-“Dim the lights and crank up the Norah Jones.”
-“I wouldn’t get out of a bed for a trophy that size.”
-I love dog reaction shots!
-“I dreamed about a lucky blue cow”
-Trophy fight!
-“The correct answer is banana cream.” More random brilliance like this, please.
-Quidditch, “I went to fast, he never touched me.”
-“This coming from a marketing major at a party school.”
-Jay and Manny’s dad are totally going to bond over horse gambling.
-That is a hell of a fish trophy.
-Would these guys be this worked up over a trophy, they are adults; right?
-Phillip Baker Hall!
-So, not bonding…
-I like Phil, “taking it all in”
-Oh good, they realized the immaturity of the plot.
-“Great I am dead, now I have to go to the bathroom.” “They say that happens.”
-60, 70, liked it better when it was Gob’s 500, 1500 dollar suit.
-“I can’t believe I bought a coffee cake over this!”
-Cam’s shifty eyes, AMAZING! Eric Stonestreet’s finest acting all year.
-“Though I try and stay neutral on the whole east coast/west coast thing.”
-He has been looking for that Jay love for a long time.

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