'Modern Family' Season 2, Episode 8 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted Nov 18th 2010 12:30AM
['Modern Family' - 'Manny Get Your Gun']
A good sign that an episode of 'Modern Family' is one of the better ones of the season is when the Mitch and Cam storyline is the least funny of the three stories that week. The two of them have been like Old Faithful, spewing the funny on a regular basis. This week, though, they were out-funnied by both the Dunphys (not a surprise) and the Pritchetts (more of a surprise).
If this episode just had Norman Lloyd as an elderly adulterer, a suit-clad Manny floating on an inflatable island, Phil's inadvertently racist Color War t-shirts, and Gloria holding a BB gun like one of the Cousins on 'Breaking Bad,' the episode would have been pretty good. But there was so much more than that this week.
Oh, and Mitch and Cam were funny this week, just not as funny as they usually are. It's just that sometimes Cam is too much Cam for his, or the audience's, own good.
It does feel like every week we get Cam the over-emotional handful and Mitch the uptight stick in the mud. Most of the time, that's a winning formula. But when Cam stopped to help some codger at the mall (played by veteran character actor Norman Lloyd... h/t to Will Harris of Bullz-Eye for pointing that out) express his love to a lady friend a floor down, you could see the adulterer punchline coming. It wouldn't be "Cam slowing things down by meddling" without a payoff, and that was the only place that one was going to go.
Still, roles got switched nicely when we find out that Mitch was in a hurry not to go to Manny's party but to participate in a flash mob (wow, that is so 2007, isn't it?). I loved how Mitch prepared for this "spontaneous" display by practicing for two months with a co-worker he thought was gay "but so isn't." Yes, Mitch was a baby about it, but you can forgive it when you hear the line "You cheated on me with choreography!"
On to the Dunphys. Phil is in the same "old reliable" category as Mitch and Cam, mainly because of his lack of self-awareness. His stories of "White supremacy" at family camp and his t-shirt saying "If it ain't White, it ain't Right" generated two of the three biggest laughs of the night, with the third being Alex and Haley shuddering over the fact that this year's camp had a hoedown scheduled.
But what has gotten me hooked on the Dunphys in the second season is their sincere, honest interfamily communication. During the race to Maggiano's (nice product placement, huh? At least their food's pretty decent considering it's a chain restaurant) for Manny's party, we got Luke saying one of the more profound things he's ever said. Sure, Phil's the more fun parent, but it was sweet to hear Luke say that he'd go with his dad if his parents split because "he needs me more." So, even though Claire's kids don't see her as the fun parent, at least they see her as the strong one. But, lord knows what a Phil/Luke house would look like; they'd constantly leave the house barefoot.
Phil crying about his girls not wanting to go to family camp was just as entertaining. "We made our daddy cry!" wailed Alex. But at least they stuck to their guns; even though they made Phil cry -- seriously, they've never seen him cry before? -- they didn't cave and promise to go to camp with him. So maybe they have outgrown their dad.
Finally, we come to Manny. When Jay told him "you were born 16," I'm surprised he didn't say "you were born 60," because that's closer to Manny's emotional age, isn't it? The guy has more suits than I do! Anyway, he really doesn't have the capacity to be a real kid, as we saw when he got played during his own crank phone call. "No, I want to get a hold of Butts!" What was equally entertaining, though, was watching Gloria bounce around the house (yes, I said it) trying to find her keys. And her firearms skills are second to none. "I can pop a button off your shirt if I wanted," she said to Manny after she shot the island raft.
More fun stuff:
-- Having all four cars almost hit each other in front of the restaurant was a bit of an eye roller, but it's forgivable considering what came before that scene.
-- Claire: "40 is the same as 35." Luke: "You say that a lot." Never thought I'd hear Luke be profound twice in one episode.
-- I still can't get over the sideways grip Gloria used with that BB gun. Now that I think of it, I don't even think the Cousins from 'Breaking Bad' were that bad-ass.
-- The warm, fuzzy lesson learned this week? Everyone can act like a child, even when you're middle aged. Ok, so it's not so profound. But, like the cars almost hitting each other, I can forgive it because of all the fun that came before it.
'Modern Family' airs Wednesdays at 9PM ET on ABC.
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