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'Modern Family' Season 2, Episode 23 Recap

by Joel Keller, posted May 19th 2011 1:00AM
['Modern Family' - 'See You Next Fall']

It's interesting that the episode's title would be perfect if this was the season finale, right? Makes me wonder if this actually was the season finale, but ABC intervened. It's not the first time this has happened.

'Modern Family' - 'See You Next Fall'
This had the feeling of a season finale, didn't it? There was a life passage (Alex's graduation from middle school), lots of Dunphy/Pritchett family slapsitck, and a big moment where everyone comes together at the end. It was also extremely funny, as if the writers kicked things into high gear in order to go out with a bang.

But the good thing is, we've got yet another episode to go. The description for it looks promising, but they're going to be hard-pressed to top this one.

That's not to say that this was the best episode of the season. Far from it. But, given that the show's chuckle-to-belly-laugh ration has been running about even these days -- usually alternating episodes -- any episode that generates huge laughs from me goes to the top 10.

Sure, the episode was full of slapsticky silliness. But the best episodes of 'Modern Family' revolved around slapstick -- 'Fizbo,' anyone? -- especially when they were combined with good family stories. And, in at least two of the cases, the family stories were pretty damned fun.

First let's start with the Dunphys. Alex is the valedictorian and has to make a speech at her graduation; she plans on making a bitter speech that calls out all of her classmates for being stupid phonies. Haley, in a very sisterly moment, tries her mightiest to keep Alex from making the speech, even taking her cards away. Alex, ever prepared, says, "You didn't think I'd have duplicates?"

What struck me about this story was that, unlike some of the other times when the Dunphy girls got extended screen time, this time there was some emotional resonance. We know that, as much as Haley is embarrassed by her nerdy sister, she takes pains to protect Alex from her precociousness. She didn't object to the speech because it would embarrass her, but because it would make Alex into a "social piranha" as she started high school.

And, in what has to be Sarah Hyland's best acting job, she not only admitted that Alex's smarts and looks will get her fall in high school, but she also admitted that being popular doesn't help when you're failing biology and might not even be able to go to college.

Meanwhile, Phil is desperately trying to get Claire to emotionally crack earlier than usual so he can comfort her before a scheduled trip to Vegas. His fellow male cheerleaders can be cruel, so he doesn't want to tell them that he's bagging the trip to comfort his wife. He uses all sorts of imagery, especially equating holding Jay's dog to holding Alex as a kid. The plot was funny because of Phil's smile when he finally saw Claire crack, over her father's defective gate, of all things. Why? "What happens in Vegas won't happen" if she cracks at her usual day-after pace.

What was great, though, was that Phil forgets he's even more emotional than Claire. So after they had time to contemplate missing Alex's graduation -- the tandem recumbent bike they were on broke ... more on that later -- Claire was able to get Phil to buy in on the fact that she's just about to become a surly monster, just like her older sister. The running and tumbling they did to finally get to the ceremony right in time for Alex's speech was a great bit of physical humor for both Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen.

The other two stories didn't really have much in the way of conclusions, but both were funny. Jay's Botox gone wrong worked not only because of all the jokes at his expense, as well as Gloria's assertions that "I fell in love with that face. Not that face." And it's always good to see Manny trot out his Phantom mask, and that he has a "lefty" version. But, the story was fun because Jay got the Botox because "Inside I feel 40, but then I look at the mirror in the morning and say, 'Who's that old man?'" Of course, it helps that when the entire family finds out -- Mitch reacts with a "No... my... god!' -- they don't let him live it down.

Mitch and Cam's story was just fine, even though it got the short end of the stick because of the Dunphy girls; it's yet another example of how the two of them are different. Mitch and the rest of the Pritchett's laugh at other's pratfalls. How do we know? Because when Cam ran into the patio door and eventually broke off the screen, Claire, Jay and Mitch all laughed; Gloria, Jay and Manny didn't. Then again, Cam laughed at the Dunphys rolling down the hill, and fobs it off as a juxtaposition of slapstick with the formal event or some such bullplop. We all know that he's no better than the rest of us...

More fun stuff:

-- Luke thinks he can move stuff with his mind. A floating ball is one thing, but a gate?

-- Loved how everyone was trying to figure out how to get over the gate, and all we needed was Phil's cheerleading skills. Loved his old nickname: "The Grand Can."

-- Mitch watched Alex being born, "and I wasn't gay then..." Of course, Mitch has seen every kind of livestock being born, which he was rattling off right before he took a header into the duckie pool.

-- Gloria couldn't ride the tandem bike because "My knees would hit my boobs when I pedaled," "Champagne problems, huh?" laughs Jay, only half-embarrassed.

-- I bet Cam did use his "McGayver" skills to get that gate open. And he probably got that ribbon he wanted in Lily's hair. "It's been bugging me all day."

-- Notice how, even though Jay was wearing Cam's hat and Gloria's sunglasses at the end, he still was confident enough to tell Cam that "you look like an iceberg." That's chutzpah.

-- All it takes to get a "she's back!" and a group Dunphy smother-hug is to say "I'm a little hungry." At least that's all it takes when you're a surly, texting monster like Haley.

-- When I saw the slapstick with Jay's gate in the cold open -- "My clicker is bad" led Manny to panic over Jay's heart, for instance -- you knew the gate would come into play at some point.

-- Loved how Phil continued to utilize his Spanish Club language skills, even though the guys in the truck clearly spoke perfect English. It's less racist than Phil just trying to impress someone. Who he was trying to impress, though, was unclear.

'Modern Family' airs Wednesdays at 9PM ET on ABC.

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Erik Russell

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May 24 2011 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

See you next fall was in reference to Cam falling, not really the season ending. There weren't enough major character changes to leave it as the finale.

Fix this line, Mitch watched Alex being born, "and I wasn't gay then..." Of course, Mitch has seen every kind of livestock being born, which he was rattling off right before he took a header into the duckie pool.

It's supposed to be Cam, not Mitch. Either you didn't explain your point correctly or the names are mixed up.

Enjoyable episode, that eye did look pretty bad.

May 21 2011 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eludium Q36

Just not feeling it anymore. Either I've become used to the characters or the writing just isn't as funny but this season doesn't even prompt a smile let alone a chuckle from me. I've grown numb to it, dammit. Cougar Town, too. Well, Happy Endings is fresh.

May 19 2011 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was exactly just going to the may 2011 calendar page on tvsquad to see if this was the finale. lol.

It was a fun episode.

May 19 2011 at 12:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great episode. I stared at Haley's mouth all episode. It was weird without the braces.

(fix the title, Family is misspelled).

May 19 2011 at 2:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jojee33's comment

Got it! Thanks.

May 19 2011 at 7:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jon Carpenter

This season has been airing completely out of order so it would not surprise me at all if this was originally the finale. I wonder if they switch the order of the episodes back around on the dvd's.

May 19 2011 at 1:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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