KIP MOONEY:After a week off due to re-runs, I’m mostly happy to report that the show is right where we left it: righting itself after a shaky second season. This was another near-perfect episode, except for a redundant storyline that almost killed the whole thing.
I’m talking, of course, about the Claire vs. Gloria part of the show, as they bickered their way through planning the big middle school dance.
While it provided some great moments with Danny Trejo, who has made a career of playing quiet, under-appreciated men who could probably kill you, the whole thing felt like a re-tread of a few Modern Family episodes (including “Family Portrait”). Claire’s big speech to Gloria in the bathroom, about how this is “her thing,” and she’s encroaching felt hollow, especially since she gave the same schpiel at “Halloween.”
It all felt like a big cop-out, and I’m scared that this show is already starting to repeating itself. This isn’t Family Guy.
But enough with the bad news. The rest of the show was brilliant.
Jay and Phil had a nice showdown with Jay as the aggressive jerk and Phil as the timid doormat. We’ve all seen both shoppers, and you might be one or the other. But they both found some common ground as Jay calmed down a bit and complimented the frequently devastated Phil by telling him, “Sometimes I hope the kids turn out a little more like you.” Phil also righteously freaked out at a clerk who sprayed him with cologne before he could even accept the offer for a free sample.
And after weeks of doing nothing but silliness, Cam and Mitch finally had a something worthwhile to do. Their little bundle of joy is teething, and not just at kids she doesn’t like. She bites Cam on more than one occasion, prompting him to shout, “It’s like Twilight back here!”
I can’t tell you how happy I was to see them engaging in real parenting, seeing them as real characters again after squabbling for most of this season like a couple of prima donnas.
That was a big step forward, despite a major step back with the Claire storyline. Hopefully the show will continue pressing on and not doubling back to rehash what it’s already covered.
Manny: “This is fine. Except that it’s turquoise. And a bra.”
Gloria: “In my village, we didn’t have many people who wear pocket squares.”
Manny: “Here we go again with the village.”
– after his mother gives him an alternative pocket square
Cam: “Don’t bite my head off, Mitch. I’m not a pack of batteries.”
Manny: “At this rate, I’ll miss the first dance. At my wedding!”
– after a guy cuts in front of them–claiming he only has one item–then proceeds to try to return several items without a receipt
HOWARD MEGDAL: Totally agree on the Claire/Gloria storyline. No one does better at attainable/beautiful than Julie Bowen. This felt like an attempt to make what she already brought to the table explicit. It was an uninspired choice.
But Jay/Phil? Absolutely perfect.
I will note that while Cam and Mitchell were parenting, having him sing a long to Lily about not biting was as extreme as Cam got in this episode- a welcome change, since the histrionics have diminishing returns (and he’s so good at understated humor, it isn’t necessary to break over-the-top out so often in the writing).
Jay/Phil was perfect because it was a relatable situation taken to a logical extreme. I particularly enjoyed Luke telling his grandfather not to hit the guy whose dog had just died.
No Fizbo, but awfully good episode.