'Modern Family' Season 2, Episode 3 Recap (VIDEO)
by Joel Keller, posted Oct 7th 2010 1:30AM
['Modern Family' - 'Earthquake']
'Modern Family' just keeps rolling right along in its second season. Another week, another funny episode that shows a writing and acting team that's in a fantastic groove.
It doesn't seem to matter if the three families' stories are separate or intermingled; all of the stories have funny moments and feel like genuine, non-sitcommy situations. Even the over-the-top presence of Nathan Lane couldn't take away from the fun vibe the show is throwing off right now. And, considering how much of a scenery chewer Lane can be -- and he tried to gnaw on the furniture in his brief appearance tonight -- that's a pretty impressive feat.
The stories this week were interrelated in a way, because they all deal with the aftermath of a mild earthquake. It led to one of the few points in the story where the three families interacted; both Gloria and Cam overreacting to Mitchell "losing" Phil and Gloria on the phone. "You lost Phil?" Gloria asked in an anguished tone? It was a fun bit of slapstick that didn't really go anywhere, but it reminded everyone how together this group is.
Anyway, let's go through these stories one at a time:
The Dunphys: This story was typical Dunphy, with Phil trying put one over on Claire in order to fix something he didn't take care of already. In the mix was the weekly conflict between Claire and Haley, Alex scheming her way to a ride to the Museum of Tolerance, and Luke running into walls after saying that the bookshelf that fell almost killed him.
But there was a twist this week. Claire learns that she's becoming a super-controlling witch just like her mother was, and it took being locked in a bathroom with a plumber to figure it out (that plumber never did fix the tub, did he?). Yes, Phil was Phil, taking advantage of the fact that Claire was stuck in that bathroom to anchor the bookshelf to the wall only after it almost fell on Luke. But he got out of it with the expert help of Alex. So it was almost business as usual for them, but the twists kept it fresh.
The Museum of Tolerance joke was a nice callback to Alex's initial offer to Haley to keep her jaunt to the party quiet.
Favorite lines from this story: "I don't want to get in the middle of this," said Phil. "I'm not playing Good Cop and... Mom."
"But books are my friends," said the bookish Alex.
The Pritchetts: This was the least funny of the three stories, but it was a bit of a lighthearted take on where people go to worship on Sundays. For Gloria, it's church; for Jay, it's the golf course. No matter how much of an old soul Manny is, he's still got a kid's curiosity about the big issues. As Jay dug himself into a deeper hole in trying to explain his concept of heaven, hell, and maybe that place in heaven where bad people go, Manny only got more scared, relating it to the time he got sent to a girls' health class by mistake. "Some things you can't forget you've heard," he said. "Do you know what menstruation is? I do!"
Only Manny could be scared of butterflies, don't you think?
Cam and Mitch: This was the funniest of the three stories, and the writers were smart to keep the presence of Nathan Lane as Pepper to a minimum. Gotta love the themes to Pepper's brunch parties: "Studio 54th of July" was my favorite. But there were other fantastic one-liners: "He's managed to make a gay couple hate brunch." "If we're found dressed like this, it won't look good for the gays." "You're like a mob wife. You complain about what I do but have no problem wearing the fur that fell off the back of the truck."
What really made the story for me was that Mitch used his keen, law-school-honed lying skills to a) embarrass Cam for his crappy lies, telling Pepper that they don't want to go to his luncheons anymore because Cam still had feelings for him, and b) break Cam's ugly 4H frog in a "fit" of "anguish. But he managed to get the job done.
To be honest, I don't remember any of Nathan Lane's lines, except for his desire to have a memorial service in LA and New York, as well as living his life in a tasteful house outside of Palm Springs. It's Nathan Lane in a role he's played a million times.
Not much more I can say, except that it was a great job all the way around. I'm hoping the show can keep avoiding a sophomore slump for as long as they possibly can.
'Modern Family' airs Wednesdays at 9:00PM ET on ABC.
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