26/2/2014, 9PM, ABC
Luke competes in a wrestling match against the son of his father’s long-hated rival, Gill Thorpe, a situation only exacerbated when Gill beats Phil for head of the social chapter of their relator’s group. When Phil and Jay attend the meet they quickly figure out that their rivals all spring from the same roots. Meanwhile, Cam and Mitch willfully risk infecting Claire and her family with the lice epidemic running rampant in Lily’s school so they can meet with a videographer for their wedding, then have to suffer with the consequences; Haley and Alex are trapped in a utility closet in the Dunphy basement by a vicious-looking possum; and Gloria chaperones Manny’s field trip and he worries about being embarrassed by the other kids, causing Gloria to put herself in a tizzy trying to set a mature example and avoid embarrassing herself in front of the other moms.
“The Feud” is more hyperbolic than your typical episode of Modern Family, filled with screeching, though also touched with its typical heartwarming mien. It’s signature comedy was parceled out among the main characters this time, with some nice bits coming from Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen.
The Luke/Phil/Jay plot was decent; it was amusing to note that there’s something about the unctuous, snide Thorpes that carry on down through the generations like slime pouring down through the cracks of the earth. It was nice to see Luke behave in a winning and non-irritating manner after dozens of episodes in which he behaved like an irritatingly spoiled brat. The solution devolves into Lucy-lite slapstick and revenge, but it’s a funny ride.
The Claire/Lily/Mitch/Cam plot is definitely the best portion of tonight’s proceedings, and is consistently funny in a broad way with its physical humor. Julie Bowen was an MVP, with strong comedic acting all around, and Eric Stonestreet also brought humor and light to the proceedings as the desperate Cam. It’s biggest flaw, however, is Claire’s general anger. Why would she automatically assume Mitch knew about the infestation at Lily’s school? Who’s to say she didn’t pick up the little bloodsuckers at an outside activity? Why should she be mad when he and Cam have been equally exposed? Her only real point of contention is that she might have spread the lice along to her kids and then started mini-epidemics in Alex and Luke’s school - which would have already been exposed due to Cam’s teaching there. It’s all a teeny bit ridiculous, even for this goofy sitcom.
The Gloria/Manny subplot sort of…exists. It’s lovely to see Manny sacrifice his popularity for his mother just to make sure the other mothers won’t ostracize her, but it felt like a nothing plot thrown together hastily at the last minute. (Though it was true to life. How often have we masked something about ourselves, only to discover that something far more obvious is sticking out in plain sight?)
In the end, “The Feud” is a funny but not particularly exceptional episode of Modern Family. Parts are terrific, parts are dull, but the whole feels less the sum of its parts. Enjoy the Camfam plotline and skip the rest.
- Ed O’Neil has a great moment when Jay, Gloria and Manny are trapped in an elevator that nearly makes the episode.
- ”Pepper’s getting a DP – no, director of photography!” wow, show, wow.
- The museum Manny and Gloria go to is the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History.
- And that was pretty fairly diabolical revenge, Mr. Dunphy.
- Next week: Cam’s job becomes a battlefield when he tries to one-up a newly-returned (and very popular) teacher; Haley attends a realtor’s banquet with her dad and is mistaken for his wife; Mitch struggles to learn the rhythms of his new job and Jay and Gloria babysit Lily in “Spring-a-Ding-Fling.”