Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 9 — “When a Tree Falls”

KIP MOONEY: This week’s Modern Family packed almost no emotional punch, but it was so packed with laughs that wasn’t room for much else. And that was just fine with me.

Scene for scene, this was the flat-out funniest episode of the season. You know it’s a great episode when you’re laughing so hard you have to back it up to hear another classic line.

This episode still had extraneous stories that have plagued this season, but all brought lots of laughs and one featured one of my favorite comedians (Paul Scheer of The League and NTSF) in it. As with all the actors that were ever in the great MTV sketch series Human Giant (including Rob Huebel and Aziz Ansari), Scheer should show up in nearly every comedy. As the arrogant manager of the Costco Claire and Gloria get accused of stealing from, he’s absolutely perfect in his misplaced rage and ignorance. The show has previously employed the likes of David Cross, and I hope they continue to cast great subversive comedians in roles to come.

I’ve also realized that Alex is essentially a live-action Lisa Simpson or a small-screen Jeannie Bueller, and her attempts to foil her slacker sibling fail miserably. Here, she tries to snap a bad photo of the notoriously photogenic Haley as revenge for Haley taking a photo of Alex in head gear that became a hit at their school. Alex toils all day as Haley performs her highway-cleaning community service, trying to get the perfect shot, only for her phone to drop down a muddy drain. It was a comedy of errors that kept getting funnier.

We also had Manny compare himself to Sisyphus while Phil and Jay clobbered each other with oversized boxing gloves. Oh, and Cam came dressed as a cat (from the musical Cats) to protest a tree (that he dubbed Tree-ona Helmsley) being cut down. And I’ve barely just scratched the surface of the great one-liners.

I’m always OK with the show backing off its sincere moments if it wants to be this uproarious for the entire 22 minutes. I know we won’t always be blessed with this many great jokes, so I’ll be sure to save this one on the DVR.

BEST LINES:
Lily: “It’s a nightmare.”
Mitch: “I see you’ve picked up your daddy’s gift for hyperbole.”

Luke to Haley: “You’ll get eaten alive, Suburbia.”

Phil to Jay: “You still owe me a boombox, 12 D batteries and an Olivia Newton-John cassingle.”

About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney is a recent graduate of UNT's Mayborn School of Journalism and big-time opponent of going to grad school. Working as a freelance writer in the DFW area, he's always ready to go in-depth with his opinions on film, television, music, religion and the sorry state of politics in America. He continues to work independently, as each of his non-college jobs has resulted in the company experiencing serious financial troubles once he leaves, including Blockbuster and the trashy restaurant D's Country Kitchen. (The lesson here is hire him, but don't let him leave.) His literary heroes include Roger Ebert, Donald Miller and Matt Taibbi. Kip has written for The Dallas Morning News and Pegasus News and served as editor-in-chief for the North Texas Daily, but he is perhaps best known as the inspiration for Christian Lander's well-known blog Stuff White People Like.
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