KIP MOONEY: My apologies for not being able to cover the installment I was most excited about this year: the Halloween episode. Season two’s “Halloween” stands as one of the 10 best episodes the show’s ever done, and a hallmark of the emphasis and care the writers and actors put into their holiday episodes. Last week’s “Open House of Horrors” wasn’t quite that good, but another winner from a season on the rebound.
This week’s episode was another near-classic. I wasn’t jazzed about the potential for comedy at the families holding a yard sale, but leave it to the game cast and skilled writers to draw plenty of laughs out of a simple premise that inevitably splits off the group into pairs.
The major storyline I loved was Alex’s tenuous relationship with Michael, the boy she accompanied to prom. She seemed convinced their night would not be romantic, but they made out, so clearly he’s not gay as he seems. Claire, of course, must break them up before he breaks her heart by revealing his true orientation. She enlists Cam and Mitch, who first give her a spiel about how today’s teenage boys are more fashion-conscious than the bad boys she grew up with, right up until Michael introduces himself with a high-pitched “Hi!” and a wave, which has them changing their tune.
I love that the show doesn’t continue to drag this out. Alex simply mentions that in today’s world, she doesn’t have to be coy about it. When she asks Michael point-blank, he gets angry and denies it, even though he just admitted to gushing over the possibility of a Justin Timberlake line of home furnishings. I’m so glad that in 2012, the No. 1 comedy on TV (give or take a Big Bang Theory) doesn’t have to tiptoe around this subject anymore.
The night’s other big laughs come from Phil’s 127 Hours bit, trapped under a motorcycle he should have never ridden in the first place.
“It’s been 28 minutes,” Phil confesses. “I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”
This is before he starts going over what would be on his Trapped under a Motorcycle playlist. Such a great little moment, and something only Phil would think. And of course his solution to free himself is cutting his jeans off with a pocketknife.
But wait! There’s more! Gloria has a ventriloquist dummy she’s trying to hide! Turns out this was her talent a beauty pageant back in Colombia. I think we could all tell she was going to be terrible then and now, but I thought it was hilarious that the “most humiliating night of [her] life” still resulted in victory. (“Imagine this body at eighteen,” she says.)
Modern Family has taken serious strides back to its lofty place in the sitcom landscape. It doesn’t need to get rid of a thing right now.
Haley to Luke, via webcam: “Take me to mom. And don’t move the computer so much. I’m still drunk… ing my orange juice. Hi, Mom!”
Shopper at the yard sale: “What’s your return policy?”
Jay: “You return, I call the police.”
Claire: “I just saw Alex and Michael sittin’ in a tree. Don’t make me spell this out for you.”