Modern Family does Thanksgiving and turns in one of the better episodes of the season.

First off, the “evil and horrible” version of Claire is not back this week and the show is all the better for it. The cold open of the episode is carried by Mrs. Dunphy and she had me laughing every beat, as she prepared the turkey and then reacted to Phil's feelings about his old friend Kenneth. She gets a bit teasing and judgmental when the old neighbor drops by, but nothing deplorable comes out of her mouth. The wild inconsistency of the character is still frustrating though, especially when they can clearly rein her in and make her more realistic to much greater comedic effect. Modern Family writers, this is the Claire we want.

The episode's title, "Punkin Chunkin," derives from Cam's epic, yet boring, story from his high school days when he, apparently, launched a pumpkin across a football field and into the sunroof of a car. Mitchell isn't buying it as a true story, though and the divide between the two begins to set up the episodes third act when the whole family is split up between, "the dreamers and the Pritchett’s."

Jay is against the dreamers because he wants to end Gloria's constant praising of Manny, whether he does something good or bad, and it is easy to fall on his side since he is pretty much right. The plot line gives us some more solid Manny, two weeks in a row now, and I am glad they had the character handle Jay's fistful of truth without too much drama. Gloria gets a bit short changed though, reducing the character to one note simplicity, but Vergara plows through and makes it work; per usual.

Phil pits Claire undeservedly against the dreamers as he feels like she has crushed his dreams for years now. When the Dunphy's old neighbor stops by the house Phil learns that he has achieved million dollar success living by the motto, "What will Phil Dunphy do?" While the premise of the neighbor showing up is contrived, and oddly/quickly discarded, set up some great Phil moments throughout the episode. From Phil showing off his napkin folding skills, dividing up the tables, or debuting his massage hat it was quite a showcase for the character. We also get to see another Luke and Phil video, making me wish we got more of their home video work more often; as they are hilarious in "acting" mode. Josh Gad interacting with Claire was also quite the comedy, even if it was easy.

A solid holiday episode of Modern Family this week, and it is able to do so by sticking with some familiar tropes while mixing in a couple fresh beats. Cam's tall tales, Manny being over praised, and Claire holding back Phil are all fresh ideas for mining comedy and it's nice to see them not rely on the same old dead horses.

Bullets:

-"Tell my wife and kids I love them."

-"You do have a son."

-"Man shake, are we sure?"

-Claire is on fire.

-Loving Cam's story telling techniques.

-"Wha, Wha."

-Oh Manny, that is a crappy table place setting.

-The whole Kenneth situation is way contrived, but Josh Gad is selling it.

-"He's me, and he's spectacular."

-"And also, don't tell me."

-Mitchell is sniffing out the lie, and I like it.

-Adjusting table place settings, fearless huh?

-"Remember that collage I made us to get through Katrina?"

-I don't think Manny's pallet would be less complex.

-"Really like Jay's sneak attack lesson."

-Liked Luke's backward stairs walk.

-"Sometimes I need to be puffed up and frilly."

-Phil and Luke really need to make more videos.

-"All I hear is a bunch of people telling me I am great."

-This is turning into quite the Thanksgiving debacle.

-Oh, Lily exists!

-Phil knew the exact button to hit.

-"Let's do the pumpkin first."

-"It's not as delicious as it sounds."

-Ending was a bit rushed, but I bought it. I would want to see the pumpkins fly.

-Loved the coda, "3 more seconds..."

Until next week and sorry for the delay...

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