'Modern Family' Season 2, Episode 9 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted Nov 25th 2010 12:00AM
['Modern Family' - 'Mother Tucker']
While the rest of the ABC comedy lineup was celebrating Thanksgiving tonight, in the world of 'Modern Family,' it was just another week. That's yet another sign of a comedy that's knows it's doing well creatively; the writers don't have to pull out a Thanksgiving episode during the second season just because an episode will air right before turkey day.
The curious thing about this episode, though, is that it was among the weakest of the season, if not the weakest. It's almost as if ABC and/or Levitan and Lloyd saw they had a weak one and decided to air it on a day when people will be busy cooking the next day's meal or busy trying not to get a pat down at the airport.
Speaking of unwanted pat downs, the plot where Mitchell gets skeeved out by the handsiness of Cameron's mother is a good illustration of why this episode didn't really work. There wasn't a lot of complexity to it; there were multiple examples of Barb being too touchy-feely, Mitch got annoyed, Cam got momentarily hurt, then it got resolved (sorta). We didn't really know whether Cam didn't see his mother touching Mitch because she purposely refrained when she knew he was watching, he was clueless, or if it was all just a coincidence. Maybe it was a little of all three. If any of those scenarios were more defined, the story would have been funnier.
As it was, the scene where Barb "apologizes" by barging in on Mitch in the bathtub, then she reaches around for her bracelet ("Force field!" Mitch cried, invoking the phrase he'd utter as a kid when Claire invaded his personal space) was pretty funny, if only because we thought Barb had realized what boundaries she shouldn't cross... then proceeded to cross them multiple times.
The Dunphy story was the best of the night, but it was also uneven. Phil had some good moments -- Alex asked that if even smart boys like dumb girls like Haley, what do smart girls get, and Phil responded, "Cats, mostly." -- but his worship of Dylan crossed over from being silly to being creepy. Dylan represents everything Phil wasn't in high school, as evidenced by his story about being dumped by the girl from the field hockey team. But every time he tried to get Dylan to hear his song felt odd to me. Your daughter dumped him, and your wife thinks he's an idiot. Why are you going out to pick out guitars with the guy?
But, like I said, there were plenty of Phil moments. The tangerine-striped hoodie, for one; he should be proud that he can fit in something bought in the Juniors department at Macy's. His wistful looking out the window after comforting Haley that her pain over Dylan deciding to stay broken up will pass. His warning to Dylan about having a pet bobcat. And, in one final stab to get Dylan to listen to his song: "Do you have seven minutes?"
More fun stuff:
-- The only part of the Pritchett story that I liked was the example of Gloria's Colombian toughness: popping her dislocated shoulder back in during a ping-pong match with Manny. Problem is: how do you dislocate your shoulder during a ping-pong match?
-- The reason why that story didn't work was because Manny's website diagnosis made Jay more paranoid, but he ended up having a reason for that paranoia, as his appendix needed to come out.
-- Funny that he called Manny on the mini golf course, because Manny's acting like a mini doctor. "I'm having the round of my life," he said to Jay. I'm sure my gastrointerologist has said that to a patient more than once.
-- "There's nothing wrong with making sure some Middle Eastern businessman will make her happy," said Alex about Haley. "We thought she was just going to live with you," said Claire.
-- "Tell me where on Lily's doll that she touched you," said Cam to Mitch when Mitch let Barb's handsiness slip.
-- The hoodie misunderstanding by Haley was a little silly, but it yielded a great line about Dylan, after the busboy told her he was talking about going to Graceland. "That's because he thinks it's an amusement park!"
So we got a shticky, sitcommy episode for Thanksgiving. Oh, well. Even the best show in its best season is going to have a couple of weak ones. It's the hazard of doing 22 episodes. Let's hope we get something a little better next time around.
'Modern Family' airs Wednesdays at 9PM ET on ABC.
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