'Modern Family' Season 2, Episode 20 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted Apr 21st 2011 1:00AM
['Modern Family' - 'Someone to Watch Over Lily']
With the crux of the episode being what it was -- Cam and Mitch deciding who would take care of Lily in case both of them died -- you'd think that this episode would have been funnier than it was.
Make no mistake: It was a funny episode. But with the families mixing together and general chaos ruling the day, this one had the potential to be one of the top episodes of the year. But this one was in the "pizza" category I talk about often; even a mediocre episode of 'Modern Family' is still pretty damned good.
What made this one fall a little short? It might have been characters that acted a little bit sillier than how they usually act... and two who got a storyline that ground the episode to a halt.
Yes, I'm talking about Alex and Haley. You rarely if ever see a story where the two of them are featured together, being more than just polar opposite sisters poking at each other. There's a reason for that: except for Manny, the kids are best in relatively small doses. Even Luke, that lovable distracted kid, doesn't wear well when given more than a few lines of dialogue per episode. But, as Sarah Hyland and Ariel Winter get older -- Hyland is already 20 and looking closer to her real age than ever -- the more they're going to be given. And while Hyland and Winter are good comic actors, they're not nearly as good as the crack cast around them.
So when we get into stories like tonight's, when Alex helps Haley and her friend break into school and vandalize the locker of one of Alex's frenemies, funny moments at the start, like Haley giving instructions to Alex to not look her friends in the eye, give way to not so funny moments later on, like when the two hide in the car, don't work quite as well. It's cool to see them be real sisters -- Alex reveals she cut her cello lesson, and Haley tells her to not be such a goody-goody all the time -- but it just slowed down the other stories.
Cam and Mitch were in observer mode, but they had their funny moments, like seeing Cameron up on the rock wall (and falling after Jay slacked off). It was also fun hearing the two argue over calling Cam's home state "Missourah" and hear Cam talk about the frozen cows.
But most of the meaty story was with the Dunphys and Pritchetts this week. While it was funny to see Phil and Claire get so involved in their argument that they left Luke in the parking lot, it didn't quite seem like something they'd do (at least not Claire... Phil is fully capable of it).
Claire has a legitimate fear, that Luke will become like Phil as an adult. Sure, Phil has the attention span of a child -- he loved trying to make the paint shaker look like it's standing still as much as Luke did, and he couldn't help but play with toys as he spoke to Luke's new shrink -- but the guy's a successful real estate agent. He uses his childlike sensibilities to his advantage.
With the Pritchetts, what stood out was Gloria's joy at seeing Lily, and how happy she was with prospect that a terrible event would finally give her the girl she never had. Her smile even as she acknowledged it would take a tragedy for her to get Lily spoke volumes. I loved how, after Cam says that Jay and Gloria will be Lily's guardians, Gloria is so overjoyed, she goes "Let me show you to your room, Lilyana." She has a room and a new name.
I do like the relationship Jay and Manny have forged, which is what made Cam finally decide to give guardianship to his in-laws. You think that Jay's being his usual hard-ass, like when he was yelling at Manny on the rock wall. But the conversation they had in the car was one of the best they've ever had. "You're a brave kid already. You wear blazers to school, you read girls poetry. I couldn't even talk to girls when I was your age." Despite the sentimentality involved, it was one of my favorite exchanges of the entire year.
More fun stuff:
-- Misunderstandings involving Gloria's accent are always fun. Mitch: "Earrings? I thought you said 'Hair rings." Gloria: "I didn't say 'hair rings!' I said 'hair rings!'"
-- Even though Cam and Mitch hated it when Gloria "drilled holes in our child's head," Cam couldn't resist taking creepy pics of Lily dressed up as Carmen Miranda, did he?
-- The look on Claire's face as Luke said this was priceless. "She smells like peaches. And she gave me a Woody. She knew I liked 'Toy Story'."
-- More typical Luke: He didn't realize that the psychologist wasn't a "drop your pants" kind of doctor until it was too late.
'Modern Family' airs Wednesdays at 9PM ET on ABC.
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