'Modern Family' - 'Game Changer' Recap
by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 1st 2010 4:21AM
(S01E19) One of the reasons that Cameron and Mitchell are so fun is that Cameron manages to be both the more flamboyant one, and he's clearly the more badass of the two, as well. Mitchell is always kind of whiny and too uptight with his little fists. Unfortunately, when his ineffectiveness as a tough guy leads him to think he's letting his daughter down as a father, Mitchell decides he needs to toughen up.
Phil's birthday celebration took up the bulk of the episode. Well, actually it was the build-up to his birthday celebration, but most of the events happened on that day. So how'd it go? Well, I'll say that I've had plenty of birthdays that went about as well as Phil's did.
I also taught my sister how to play chess, and she beat me ... that very game. That's right. Now, we were both still children, but come on! That's just ridiculous!
I don't know if I liked Manny schooling Jay in chess better, or Gloria revealing that she's even better than Manny at the game. The scene with Jay patronizing Manny about how to play, and Manny slowly losing his cool before ultimately winning Jay's watch off of him and then parading it around in front of Mitchell was classic. "What brings you here at 4:17 in the afternoon on a Saturday?"
I am falling in love with the relationship between Jay and Gloria. Even Jay's bond with Manny has reached a really healthy and wonderful point. In fact, all three major relationships on 'Modern Family' are healthy and strong. Phil and Claire are at each other a lot because he's a buffoon and she's such a -- "I love you, honey."
This week, though, you had to feel for Phil completely. We all know how he is about new technology, and he was perfectly prepared to spend his birthday morning getting his own iPad. He knows it means nothing to Claire, but it's something he wants for himself for his birthday.
There's no gentle way to put it. Claire absolutely blew it. She made a very sweet offer to wait in line and buy it for him, but then overslept and they sold out. There were some classic 'Modern Family' shenanigans when Claire found a line to wait in thanks to Haley, only to discover that she'd left her wallet at home with Luke (who of course was eating the cake; I could never resist it either, kiddo). Mitchell showed up only to be given an opportunity to show off his new toughness by using that great sleeper move Jay had just shown him earlier that day.
The problem is that you don't learn a sleeper move by being put to sleep within one. You learn how to succumb to one, but not how to apply the right pressure in the right places to put someone else down. The line cutter was the typical cocky jackass we've all seen. Most likely he was all bluster and attitude, but Mitchell didn't help matters with his lame hold.
I almost expected Claire to get involved and defend herself, but security removing them all is just as good. In the end, it was Luke who came through. Luke who comes across most weeks as one of the dumbest kids in the world managed to pull off a very cool project on Van Gogh last week, and now comes through with an iPad for the old man. All he had to do was tell some of Phil's friends online that Phil was dying to get one out of sympathy. I wonder if the writers will follow up on that at any point.
Phil's smiling non-reactions to everything going poorly as the family arrived to celebrate his birthday was hilariously accurate. What else can you do? You just bury the heartache (as he had to do when he infiltrated little Phil's party) and you just smile as big as you can. If you don't laugh about it, you might just cry.
The episode would have been just as satisfying if Phil hadn't gotten the iPad, because things like that really do happen and everyone did try their hardest. But we got our happy ending, and at least Phil got to blow out some electronic candles. I just want to know who set up the iPad with the birthday app, because Claire can barely work the remote control so you know she can't handle his new toy.
There was so much going on, I almost completely forgot about Cameron's act of angelic stalkerism. It was a cute little saga that played out through the episode, with the boys listening in on the baby monitor to a neighbor's marriage in crisis over a misunderstanding, but it certainly couldn't overshadow Phil's best birthday ever!
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