'Modern Family' Season 2, Episode 10 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted Dec 9th 2010 1:00AM
['Modern Family' - 'Dance Dance Revelation']
Two weeks after giving us a non-Thanksgiving episode before Thanksgiving, 'Modern Family' decided to eschew the obligatory Christmas episode, as well (Yes, it's two-plus weeks before Christmas, but most shows are showing their holiday eps now ... this is the last new ep of 'Family' for 2010). Unlike last time, when the episode was a bit of a mish-mosh, this one felt like it returned to the classic formula that has made this show be so consistent over the last season and a half: big laughs, great acting, and believable emotional payoffs. It's almost like the anti-'Glee,' isn't it?
If I had a nitpick, though, it would be that I wish that Cam and Mitch weren't always so separate from the other two families. There had to be a good way to integrate them into this week's school dance plot, don't you think? Cam could go shopping and give clothing tips. Mitch could have chaperoned. Not that the notion of how they dealt with Lily's biting habit wasn't funny -- it had a number of funny moments -- but last year, the two of them really shone when they were interacting with the rest of the family ... especially the crusty Jay (anyone remember last season's moon landing?).
Jay's always come down hard on Phil, for pretty obvious reasons. Jay's a man's man, tough, crusty. Phil has his head in the clouds, has a childlike enthusiasm for life, and would rather get along than get in someone's face. Phil's slow burn at not showing Jay "how devastating it is" is really etched across Ty Burrell's face as Jay berated him for not yelling at the parking spot stealer or the guy who cut in front of them on line with his "one" item.
Of course, how he doesn't get that Jay's calling him "Dumphy" instead of "Dunphy" on purpose -- Jay's smile to the camera in the flashback was subtle, but it was there -- is a little strange. Phil may have his head in the clouds, but he's not stupid. Anyway, good to see Phil finally take it out on someone, even it it was a department store cologne squirter who was too quick on the draw. Listening to Phil chase the guy through the store, screaming "Men!" over and over, was a particularly inspired moment.
At least we got Jay admitting that he's hard on Phil because his father-in-law was tougher on him. The best part of the scene, though, was Phil injecting his incredulous observations about Claire's grandfather -- "We named Luke after him!" "I'm wearing his watch!" -- as Jay groused about how much he hated the guy, who also happened to be a big fat racist. While he might not take Phil's tip on skipping for exercise, at least he'll be a little easier on the guy going forward.
Let's move to the latest in the Claire vs. Gloria series. We don't get this plotline often anymore, which is probably because we've seen more sides of Claire than just the uptight, brittle mom that she was last season. So it was interesting to see that side of her return when she's doing her "thing," which is setting up school dances. We all knew that as soon as Gloria sashayed into the gym to co-chair the dance, all eyes would be off Claire, including Gus, who makes Groundskeeper Willie look cheerful by comparison.
But instead of just getting an apoplectic Claire spinning in circles, merely doing things like sending Gloria into the ant infested area under the stage to get chairs, we got a great conversation on why Gloria wanted to help out with the dance. While Claire wants something to be her "thing," Gloria wants the other moms to take her seriously and feel less threatened. It's kind of like the Jay-Phil talk, something that lets them each understand the other, and brings them a little closer.
Finally, we have Lily the biter. Again, a funny plot even if it does feel completely separate from everything else that was going on. Loved when Cam and Mitch automatically assumed that Lily was accused of biting because it's easy to "blame the gay couple," then when they find out it's true, they drive away from the scene of the crime as fast as their Prius could take them. The funniest scene was the flashback to seeing Mitch use his teeth like a "multitool" in Cam's words, ripping open a bag then pulling out a wine cork. Next thing you know he'll be opening bottles with those teeth.
More fun stuff:
-- Cam thinks Lily gets flashbacks. "She didn't actually fight in Vietnam," said Mitch in response.
-- Jay got his comeuppance when he confronted the parking spot stealer, didn't he? I'd be distracted, too, if my dog died that morning. Really laughed in the wrongest way when Jay mentioned the spot and the guy said "That was his name!"
-- Figures that Manny wanted a teal pocket square to match his tie. And it also figures that Luke would just grab the suit off the mannequin. "One thing I learned about mannequins? They don't have private parts," said a very observant Luke.
-- Claire's wrong about the dances being her "thing." As we saw in 'Fizbo,' she makes some mean-looking comb sheaths.
-- Luke: "I'd hit him."
-- Unless you were one of the few who saw 'Machete,' the last time most people saw Danny Trejo (Gus) was as the doomed cartel middleman Tortuga on 'Breaking Bad.' Quite a range of roles, no?
-- Nice connection at the very end, where the victim of Phil's cologne rage was a friend of Cam and Mitch's. Mitch's reaction, that it was bound to happen sooner or later, was an even better touch; seems like it's not the first time their buddy has sprayed cologne in someone's eye before.
'Modern Family' airs Wednesdays at 9PM ET on ABC.
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