'Modern Family' Season 2, Episode 16 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted Feb 24th 2011 1:00AM
['Modern Family' - 'Regrets Only']
Tonight we got another episode that proves what I theorized last week: the more the families of 'Modern Family' mix, the better the results. The formula was mixed up this time, with Claire going with her father, Phil getting a haircut from Gloria, and Luke being Cameron's young assistant. The writers did a great job of thinking of creative ways to mix and match, something that they haven't done much of this season.
That alchemy ended up giving us a second episode in a row of big laughs, and this time much of the humor was rooted in the comedy of recognition that got 'Modern Family' all those Emmys last year.
Where did that recognition come from? Let's just say just about every couple has had a fight like the Dunphys did at one point or another.
This isn't the first time a prickly TV wife has gotten into a fight with a clueless TV husband who doesn't know what he did to start it. But this one was executed well, because we started with a hell of a morning after -- Claire a mess on the couch, the kitchen covered in foam and broccoli, and the microwave door broken. It was fun seeing Phil trying to piece the evening together, especially as Gloria was giving him a boob-in-the-face haircut.
Of course, even though Gloria got him to a reason with her series of "I'll kill 'em" statements, the very thing that Phil passed over -- the wedge salad recommendation -- was the part that ticked Gloria off. That's something that happens in marriages all the time, too; the most innocuous thing you say could be the thing that triggers a two day, hydrant-spraying fight.
Sometimes the themes that are set up for the episodes don't hold together all that well, but this week's theme of "listening" did. Claire thinks Phil doesn't listen to her; Jay listens to Gloria, and he pays for it with some karaoke from hell; Mitch thinks he listens to Cam, but he really doesn't.
Except for the Cam/Mitch story, the rest was high comedy, including Claire's bad mall habit. That joke was sold well because you're kept guessing as to what it was. There was no way you could have guessed was that she "sounded like a Tijuana hooker," as Jay put it, when she got one of those mall kiosk massages. And at the end, where Manny gets up the courage to tell Gloria she yells instead of sings, was a funny way to put a bow on Jay's need to stop Gloria from singing. The fact that Manny yelled "Coward!" to Jay was the cherry on the sundae.
The Cam/Mitch story didn't quite hold together, mainly because there was too much concentration on Cam trying to best his "archrival" rather than concentrate on the couple's listening skills.
There were funny moments in there, of course; Mitch opening the shower curtains to say "I'm in the shower!" when he pretended to be in there; Luke going "I don't know how to say this name" when their friend Longines called; the fact that a half-dozen music students and members of his family gave Cameron twice the crowd his rival attracted the year before; Cameron understanding Mitch's toothbrush-mangled shopping request; the fact that Luke and Cam were on headsets even though they were right next to each other most of the time.
And in another case of too many riches, the big stories of the episode overwhelmed the story of Haley tricking her parents into thinking she was actually working. That could have been a much funnier story, especially with Alex and how she wanted to catch her sister in the not-working act, but it wasn't given any room to breathe because of all the other wackiness that was going on around it.
More fun stuff:
-- Nice comeback by Phil, showing that, while he doesn't always listen to Claire about little stuff like wedge salads, he listened when it counted. "I've got Claire all over me," he sweetly told her. I think most husbands have their wives to thank for helping them avoid being their own worst enemies.
-- In credit tag, Ed O'Neill did a credible job with 'Danny Boy,' but I can understand Manny's karaoke fatigue. "If you don't stop, this won't be the last time I pull the plug!"
-- The fire extinguisher bit was a fun piece of physical comedy executed well by both Julie Bowen and Ty Burell. Phil really is afraid of raccoons, isn't he?
-- Despite not sending the invites to Cam's fundraiser, Mitch still can't help but check the internet when Cam talks about the poor career prospects for the harpists that were at the party.
-- Gloria calls air quotes "the bunny ears." How cute is that?
'Modern Family' airs Wednesdays at 9PM ET on ABC.
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Watch the full episode here: