'Modern Family' Season 2, Episode 6 Recap (VIDEO)
by Joel Keller, posted Oct 28th 2010 12:45AM
['Modern Family' - 'Halloween']
One of the keys to why 'Modern Family' has been able to continue the success it achieved in its first season is that the writers have taken care to round out most of the characters that finished last season with some rough edges. While the first season was the Phil, Manny and Cam show for the most part, this season we've found out more about Jay and Gloria, Mitchell, Luke, Alex and Haley.
But the person who's been rounded out the most has been Claire. And episodes like tonight's show why I never get tired of learning about her, and why she's been the show's breakout character this season.
Last year, we knew this much about Claire: She's a bit uptight, a bit brittle, and is afraid of Haley making the same mistakes she did as a teenager. We knew she was a loving and devoted wife and mother, but we weren't 100% sure why she was with Phil, as she seemed to mostly just tolerate his antics.
But this year, we know a hell of a lot more: we know she loves Phil because he's fun and she admires his abilities to be personable and charming at will. We know she wants to be there to pick up the pieces when either or husband or her kids fall on their faces. And now we know that Halloween is her day -- who knew that Claire liked scaring the heck out of little kids? -- and she'll stop at nothing to make it perfect.
Which, of course, is when the uptight and brittle side of her comes back out. She demands that the Dunphy's presentation to the trick-or-treaters is executed with military precision -- "First thunder and lightning, then fog!" she yells at her dad -- but her speech for why she's so demanding every October 31 really told the story. It was especially hilarious when she complained that "the gays took over" Thanksgiving, making her eat turkey in whatever fashionable way Cam and Mitch learned from the Food Network that month. We've all seen those shows; someone out there is going to make something along the lines of C&M's turkey tandoori this year, so there's no use in denying it.
So seeing Claire lose it but for good reasons really helped soften her character (it's also fun seeing Julie Bowen rage in a ghoul bride outfit). She even reassured Phil that "you're kinda stuck with me" after he finally told her about how much their neighbor's sudden divorce freaked him out.
Phil's side of the plot had its Phil-type moments -- he humped Claire on the ladder, he constantly got scared by the skeleton he set up -- but it was mostly his concern that Claire could leave him in the same way Jerry's wife left him. Oh, and we also found out that Claire hits Phil in her sleep. Maybe that was a little TMI, Phil.
On other fronts, the Cam/Mitch plot was reliably funny, if not as side-splitting as it has been in other weeks. The sight of Mitch hopping around his office Spider-Man style in the Spidey costume was clever, but for some reason, the buildup to Cam's "horrific" Halloween story was funnier than how it actually turned out, even if we got a shot of him yelling "I wet my pants!" as his head was on a platter.
The Gloria-Jay plots have pretty consistently been the weakest of the three sets this season, but this week, they had a strong showing. We have all hear Gloria mispronounce a word or four, so hearing her get called on it was a nice way to put a bow on that running joke, and we got to hear the term "baby Jesus" used the wrong way twice, but to great hilarity.
More fun stuff:
-- How does Haley manage to dig up all of those risque costumes? She even tarted up Mother Theresa, imagining what she looked like "when she was hot."
-- When Claire ranted about the fashionable ways to cook turkey that Cam and Mitch keep foisting on the family every year, Mitch pointed his eyes towards Cam. Which makes his line about her getting thirds on the tandoori turkey that much funnier.
-- Was Jay's story to Gloria about the day they met? I was just trying to digest it when Gloria punched Mitch square in the face, which was probably the episode's second biggest laugh after the box full of baby Jesuses.
-- Figures that Mitch would listen to the only two guys in his law firm who would dress for Halloween. I know the one douche was Dracula, but was the tool dressed as the guy from 'A Clockwork Orange?'
-- Jerry the divorced neighbor was played by the always capable UCB co-founder Matt Besser. It's always weird to see him pop up in random guest roles, considering he's been one of the biggest influences on today's comedy scene. How come that guy doesn't have his own series?
'Modern Family' airs Wednesdays at 9PM ET on ABC.
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