February 18th, 2015, 9PM, ABC
Phil has a LeGrande time in coach with the magician he idolizes when Claire takes the only available extra first class seat on their flight home from a camping reunion with his college cheerleading buddies. Phil’s stuck alone in the seeming disaster zone that is coach but ends up seated between the magician and a massage therapist. Meanwhile Claire’s plan to cool down from the struggle of faking her happiness throughout the weekend is ruined by her initially doting and eventually racist, spoiled and selfish seatmate who’s a sloppy drunk that abuses every service industry worker she comes across. Elsewhere, Gloria forces Jay to train Manny in self-defense to equip him with the skills he needs to fend off his cooking-school rival. Jay’s only too eager to help if that means he gets to sample Manny’s famous lasagna again but it turns out his bully just might have a softer side; Hayley and Alex try to help Luke break up with a girl in the most gentle, easy way possible over the phone when he chooses to slough his responsibility onto his sisters, but the girl reacts poorly to the break-up, putting Hayley and Alex on the warpath . And then Mitch, Cam and the rest of their friends throw the ever promiscuous Sal a belated baby shower only to discover that she’s abandoned her child with them and fled to parts unknown, leaving the whole group to fight over who should raise the boy.
Modern Family has fallen into a bit of a funk over the past season. In its sixth one, and after a fifth production filled with perhaps too much family togetherness as necessitated by Cam and Mitch’s wedding and the hubbub surrounding it, Modern Family has splintered its cast into islanding situations, only bringing the whole family together into a single scene on very rare occasions. Perhaps a natural result of the child actors that formed the nucleus of the show’s growing up, it is a schism that becomes more visible as time passes by. This new decision has resulted in typically four spotlight stories in an episode, and thus has resulted in tales that come off as unevenly thought-out, with one segment usually standing head and shoulders above the others in terms of quality.
This week that lucky story belongs to Cam and Mitch. Their friends come off as cardboard swishy stereotypes, but their brief foray into adoptive parenthood provides some funny lines, and mitigates the awfulness of their appearance last week.
Next runner-up is the Phil and Claire story, which makes Claire look like something of a jerk who hates spending time with her husband but rounds out comfortably in a final gesture of tenderness. An additional hat tip to Penn Jillette, who’s always fun when he does guest work, and his magician character is no exception to the rule.
Gloria, Manny and Jay’s storyline works perfectly well as a decent sitcommy plot but suffers when it decides to turn on Gloria and portray her as a shrieking, pushy, demanding harpy. This has never been a character trait for her – she’s been more of a smothery type who enjoys an equal partnership with Jay. The sudden portrayal of Manny and Jay as victims who exist under her boot is immediately belied by themes in earlier episodes, ones where Manny deliberately manipulates Gloria to get what he wants and Jay pulls tons of macho, house-running bs. It makes no sense for either of them.
The kids’ plot is just plain awful. I can’t imagine Alex having any interest in helping her brother dump a girl she likes, even if it’s to let her down gently and show off her sensitivity. I don’t understand the show’s choice to portray Luke as this girl-thirsty perv; he was more charming as a naive dim bulb. The end result is a mixed-up grade for an episode with as many ups as it has downs.
- Sorry for the belated recap, but my local station values snow coverage over sitcoms.
- Sal first appeared in season one’s “Great Expectations”, and she quickly established her dependence on Mitch and Cam there. She went into labor with Sammy during the prep for Mitch and Cam’s wedding, forcing them to replace her as best man.
- “What do I want? Some credit. When do I want it? Now.”
- Nathan Lane’s Pepper Saltzman re-appears in this episode; he was also last seen at Cam and Mitch’s wedding.
- “Ugh, when did you become a guy? It’s gross.”
- Well-known illusionist, author and actor Penn Jillette plays Edward LeGrand.
- “I don’t want to sound like a sentimental softie, but does anyone miss the drunken whore she used to be?”
- ”God only does weird baby stuff!”
- Lily does not appear in this episode.
- Next Week: Phil and Claire are apparently still en route to home, because Claire partakes in a session of virtual snooping on the family from an airport in “Connection Lost”. Naturally, that causes drama with the whole family.
Most of this grade goes to the stereotypical but wittily written Cam and Mitch subplot.