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April 23, 2014

'Modern Family' Season 2 Finale Recap

by Joel Keller, posted May 26th 2011 10:10AM
['Modern Family' - 'The One That Got Away']

If you read my 'Modern Family' recap last week, you'll remember that I said that last week's episode like it was a season finale, and wondered what we'd see tonight.

'Modern Family' - 'The One That Got Away'Well, tonight also felt like a season finale ... for at least a couple of minutes in the middle and at the end. Otherwise, it felt like just a normal episode, and not one of the show's strongest. Not that there's anything wrong with the former; not every show has to end a season with big events and cliffhangers. But the latter was a bit of a disappointment, given how strong last week's episode was.

What was the most fun about the episode, though, was that it centered on Ed O'Neill and the tough but loving character he plays, Jay. There hasn't been nearly enough Jay time this season, so it was good to see O'Neill get more or less the entire episode to remind people why he's been a sitcom stalwart for almost a quarter of a century (it's rough to write that, but it's true... 'Married... With Children' debuted 24 years ago).

"The old Jay would have said 'I want to be out on a lake with a fishing pole in the sunshine, not bobbing around at night in a swimming pool.' I miss the old Jay." That's Jay Pritchett in a nutshell. He loves his life the way it is now, with his va-va-va-voom wife, overly-mature stepson, and his kids and grandkids. He's even grown to feel comfortable hanging out with Cam and Mitch's friends and can at least semi-tolerate Phil now. But he misses the quiet guy who spent one of his teenage birthdays alone on a boat with a fishing pole, alone with his thoughts. Even when he tries to spend his birthday that way, this time around, circumstances get in his way.

For instance, he takes both his and Gloria's phones and ends up having to pick up the dog from the groomer ("You know who used to do your job? A hose."). Then Mitch and Claire get trapped by a dog in the treehouse of their childhood home in their attempt to recreate a photo from their childhood, so he has to pick them up. Finally, Cam gets booted out of a bakery for talking to Manny like he's about to go on an episode of 'To Catch a Predator,' and Jay has to pick up his own birthday cake.



That's just the way it is in the Pritchett family, as we saw during the raw footage of Alex and Haley's attempt to make a testimonial video for their grandfather. It was footage from the past year, and it brought up scenes from episodes throughout the year, all showing everyone too busy to say anything to effusive about the family patriarch. I could go on a "name the episode" exercise here, but pretty much all of them are easily identified. It was a fun way to summarize the season, even if the execution was a teeny bit clumsy. When Luke took over the editing -- "give me two hours... and then another hour" -- the resulting video was creative, if short. He didn't even find any footage with Alex in it.

'Modern Family' - 'The One That Got Away'Along with there not being enough Jay this year, there hasn't been enough Claire/Mitch interaction this season, either. You start to forget that they're siblings after a while. So it was fun to see them sneak in the back of their old house to recreate that old photo. The implications of recreating it when you're in your 30s and 40s is a little creepy -- Claire looks sexy as hell in the t-shirt and pigtails and we don't want to know how Mitch got that sailor's suit on short notice -- but it was a nice thought on their part.

Anyway, somehow Claire thinks they get a pass for illegally parking and for tresspassing on the property "because we used to live here." "I don't think that works the way you think it does," says Mitch. He's right, of course, and the bonding the two of them did after the dog chased them into that treehouse was heartening, even if it wasn't extremely funny. What was funny was seeing the two of them in the back of Jay's car acting like it was 1980 again and they got were little kids who got themselves in trouble.

Beyond the really funny scene where Cam gets in trouble merely for talking to a kid on the phone at a bakery, his interaction with Manny served two purposes: 1) to remind us that Manny's not your average 12-year-old, considering he uses baseball mitts to take torts out of the oven and uses a bat to roll out dough, and 2) it set up Cam's desire to have another kid, specifically a boy. It was a nice way for Mitch and Cam to end the season, with the episode starting with Lily driving them crazy and ending with the both of them wanting to have another kid.

It feels like Phil got the short end of the stick this week. It would seem like using Gloria to impress old classmate Glenn Whipple (Rob Huebel, a talented guy who seems to have been pigeonholed by Hollywood producers into playing douche bags lately) is a thing that Phil would do, but it was more uncomfortable than funny.

It only got a comedic boost when Glenn expressed surprise that Phil didn't marry Claire, even though we all know he did. After that, Phil was reduced to a series of gags where he tells Claire how lucky he is to have her, but at least it was a bit of a different direction than the way the plot could have gone. For once, he's not lusting after Gloria, he's only got eyes on is own wife. Then again, when she's wearing that shirt and those pigtails, who wouldn't be looking at her?

More fun stuff:

-- People don't really like when Gloria's accent and language mishaps are fodder for jokes, but I find them a cute throwback to another age in TV. So the fact that Jay telling her that he might want to learn the saxophone led to her getting him a "sexy phone" for his birthday was funny to me,

-- When Luke is editing the video: "Get me a chocolate milk... with extra salt." How'd he learn about salt making sweet things taste better?

-- Jay was so desperate to not be a part of his dinner that he's checking WNBA scores. No one checks WNBA scores, including the players playing in WNBA games.

-- Manny also uses a tennis racket as a bubble bath frother. The man does pamper himself.

-- It was nefarious of Cam to dump a misbehaving Lily off on Gloria, knowing that Gloria gets so attached to his daughter. That's a reference that you might not have gotten if you hadn't been watching the whole season.

-- "Baby Jesus, another Baby -- Jesus, Stella, don't do that!"

-- Even though they were stuck in a tree and it was the only thing keeping them calm, Mitch still looked at the bottle of wine and said with disdain "Oh, it's Merlot."

-- Also, leave it up to Mitch to be concerned that Manny will get a third of Jay's estate when Jay kicks it. That tells me that a) Jay is pretty damned loaded and b) Mitch isn't 100 percent happy with losing part of his share. Wonder if that will come up later on. Gloria doesn't seem to mind; putting in time with Jay, even this "gentler" Jay, still counts for a lot in her book.

-- For some reason, Phil choked on his close-up magic tricks in front of Glenn, but got it together enough to pull a quarter out of Claire's ear. "I have to admit, that's kinda hot," she said.

So, was season two as big a success as season one? Well, the show has become a pretty big hit, even bigger than it was last year, so in that regard it has been. Creatively though, the show hit a few bumps along the way; with a cast this big, and a need to give each family a significant story every week, there is inevitably going to be pockets of story that just don't work.

But, as I've said many times, even the not-so-great episodes were still pretty darn good. And this show's formula is such that it can just plug away for years, with the only changes being the ages of the kids. So, in that regard, season two was a success. Looking forward to season three, especially seeing the adventure of Cam and Mitch adopting another little one.

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

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Hi Jo : )

And Manny learned to put salt in his chocolate milk
from the girl he was courting .

May 29 2011 at 11:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
General Kenobi

I thought Jay's interaction with the dog groomer made the entire episode for me! Hilarious!

I also liked that they ended the season on a bookend. Wasn't the end of last season also out in the pool with them all falling in? Or am I misremembering that? I know that happened, but it may not have been a finale. But Phil's growth in this episode is a little more than I think you're giving it credit for. At the end of this season his 2 year long arc of being somewhat more enamored with Gloria than Claire has ended. Then again, if you ask me, I'd bet Julie Bowen ages better anyway... she's incredibly hot.

May 26 2011 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cyn Mackley

Luke learned to put salt in his chocolate milk from Manny! Another great reference to earlier in the series.

May 26 2011 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Cyn Mackley's comment
Joel

You're right. Nice catch!

May 26 2011 at 11:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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