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April 18, 2014

'Modern Family' - 'Game Changer' Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 1st 2010 4:21AM
'Modern Familiy' - 'Game Changer'
(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!

[For clips and full episodes of 'Modern Family', visit our friends at SlashControl.]

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I didn't see the episode as a commercial for the iPad either. I think the iPad is a bunch of hype and would not get one, but I was more involved in the story of Phil wanting to get the newest coolest gadget than him wanting to get an iPad.

In fact, I thought the iPad was so integrated in the story line that I didn't even notice how much free publicity Apple was getting from it. Not until I go to read reviews of the episode and see all these critics decrying the product placement. There are some shows that are awful at product placements and who can forget that "How to Train Your Dragon" bit NBC showed during the Olympics) - this was an example of how TO do a product placement (ironic, since it turns out it wasn't really a product placement deal).

They also mentioned Twitter, Facebook, Bling(?), and a few other things on the episode as well - oh no, how about that?!

April 01 2010 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dapete

Many stop-the-tivo-I-need-to-laugh moments in this one. I was dying thinking about Cam getting his killer instincts and "go time" catch-phrase from spending a year as a crossing guard.

April 01 2010 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nick

As someone who likes new technology, I can totally empathize with Phil wanting an iPad for his birthday. The gadget could have been anything really, but that it was an iPad on the eve of actual release made me smile and slightly bit envious.

When you think about it there was another sly reference in the episode. When Luke is jumping with the balloons, and he sister mentions, you should try the roof-- it was not only funny (younger siblings always get the worst of it), but made me think of the movie Up.

April 01 2010 at 12:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

I don't get why people have a problem with using the IPad. The point, was Phil was geeking out over a new piece of technology. What that technology they used was really secondary to the story line. It had to be something, so why is using an IPad any worse than something else or making something up. These shows are about entertainment but they also have to make money. If they sacrificed story time to blatantly hawk the IPad then I would agree, but I don't think they did, it fit into the plot quite well.

April 01 2010 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike's comment
Creep

Agreed. Among my peers, the iPad is in fact the new hot thing. Seeing this reflected in fictional works seems very realistic to me. I think some people just don't like Apple or are fanboys of competing companies, so whenever Apple is brought up in a positive light, they get mad. It's the same deal when Sony fanboys get mad when someone in the media promotes the 360. Not mentioning their consumer electronics of choice is equal to a direct and personal insult. It's childish really.

April 01 2010 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CeCe

I too wondered who set up the iPad with the cake and candles. However, I didn't feel it was a 30 min commercial for the toy as I was not aware it was a real product. I thought it was just something the writer's made up. Of course I know as much about that stuff as Claire.

April 01 2010 at 11:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wofgang

Loved the episode too. I really like Claire and Phil's relationship. At any given time either one can be the straight man or not or both.
By the way, Jason, same thing happened to me as a kid, with my cousin Kris. I was teaching her chess and she beat me on our very first game. The kicker is that she never ever played me again. I have always admired her for that.

April 01 2010 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
themothchase

I'm with @Rhomboid - i love this show, but got pretty frustrated with the over-the-top i-pad product placement last night. It also seemed that the characters were a little meaner to each other or at least more selfish than usual, and I wasn't keen on that either.

But I did love Gloria last night - it's taken a while to start revealing her personality...it was fun to see one aspect that wasn't derived from her ethnicity!

I blog about this episode at http://themothchase.wordpress.com - check us out!

April 01 2010 at 9:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chipramsey

Highlight of the night: Cam grabbing the bat and saying "it's go time!"

April 01 2010 at 7:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hugeliver

"I'm going to get a shovel for the cake"
LMAO!

April 01 2010 at 7:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rhomboid

I really love this show to death but I almost couldn't take the reek of it smelling like a 30 minute infomercial for the latest pile of hype-feces from Apple.

April 01 2010 at 6:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to Rhomboid's comment

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