Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 10 — “Diamond in the Rough”

KIP MOONEY: Modern Family has a gift for extracting great moments out of unnecessary plotlines. That makes this episode’s title especially true. This episode really only needed one story: Claire and Cam’s dreams of flipping a house from a Rockford Files extra (a detail I absolutely loved). Yet the other stories—the baseball field, Manny’s “hitting practice” and Jay and Gloria’s no-fighting pact—felt absolutely inessential. I think the writers’ room fails to realize that jamming more stories into an episode diminishes the quality of all the stories. But I can let this slide when there are so many top-shelf jokes here.

This week’s episode harkened back to season two’s “Strangers on a Treadmill,” in which Mitch and Claire promise to do the dirty work of the other and crush their respective spouses. But here, Phil pulls a switcheroo. He agrees with Mitch that Cam and Claire trying to flip a house is a recipe for financial disaster, but pins all the blame on Mitch and speeds away with Claire before Mitch can call him out for being a fellow dream-crusher. This led to one of the funniest scenes the show has ever produced: Mitch revealing a fiendish plot to expose Phil while stroking a cat. Then Phil screams into the phone, only to hear dial-tone on the other end, so he sits on the piano, which bellows an ominous tone. It’s just a wonderfully constructed gag.

As I mentioned above, there are at least three other storylines, none of which carry much weight, but each provided some genuinely hilarious moments like Luke finding a dead snake that’s not really dead, Gloria inserting the line “Papa’s gonna kill that billy goat” into a lullaby, and Manny repeatedly getting pegged with a baseball.

I still wish the writers would remove some padding in order to beef up the main stories, but season four has been such an upgrade from season three that I can’t complain too much. This is still one of the most winning, easy-going half-hours on TV, and I’m happy to make it appointment viewing.

Manny: “I got mustard on [my jersey] from Reuben’s reuben. This is what happens when you have a narcissist running concessions.”

Cam: “So how good’s Luke’s team anyway?”
Claire: “Well, you may have seen them on YouTube under ‘Boy Stuck in Batting Helmet’ or ‘Pitcher Beans Self.’”

Cam: “You’re preaching to the choir director.”

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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