Claire is en route home. Stuck in O’Haire International airport, she connects to the family through her Macbook, and the entire episode is conducted through the tasks and social media that’s extant on her computer. A quick catch-up session with Alex brings about her concern that Haley’s gone missing, and so Claire partakes in a session of virtual snooping via cloud on the family while trying to locate her missing daughter. She hops from Phil and Gloria’s house to give an update on the conference she’s just attended, where Luke’s getting a mohawk from Gloria, to Phil’s video game session at home where Alex is angsting over the final version of her essay, to Mitch’s birthday celebration at his place, where Cam demands caramel-cheese mixed popcorn. When she uses her fake Facebook account to snoop on Haley’s and discovers a status declaring she’s just gotten married, Claire freaks out – which naturally causes drama with the whole family as they converge to try and track down Haley.
So it’s come to this. Bereft of the hope of actually telling interesting stories, Modern Family’s resorted to a gimmick episode- an entire story told via webcams, cell phones, mini-cams, Ipad homepages and other Netbook devices. What’s supposed to be a quirky and fun frankly feels strange and unwieldy. The big mystery surrounding Haley’s absence is pretty easy to figure out once you do a little bit of creative thinking – fortunately there are a few twists thrown in for surprise. Even so, I didn’t laugh for half of the episode, but once I reached the midpoint, the laughs started rolling out at a comfortable clip.
Oh, if only modern technology could rescue the first ten minutes of the script! Until the jokes settle into their proper rhythm the entire exercise feels like a paid advertisement for Macs. There’s so much showing off of gadgets, so many not-so-subtle-at all instances of product placement and so many awkward hints that you too will have a wonderful experience if you just cave in and get a new iPad.
At least this episode succeeded in properly divvying up the narrative between the three families for the first time in ages. I suppose it’s good that even if we can’t get all of the actors in the same room anymore, we can at least watch the characters bond through the magic of video conferencing. I’d much rather they all be in the same room together but hey, I’ll take what I can get.
But here’s “Connection Lost”’s big secret – the whole episode could be a lot worse than it is. Most of the material surrounding Luke’s mohawk is funny, and the way Haley’s seeming predicament causes Claire to think back on her engagement to Phil in relation to how she treated Jay worked as a properly sentimental moment. For most shows ‘it could have been a disaster and wasn’t’ doesn’t work as high praise. But when you’re a series that’s on a downswing after six seasons and five Emmys, any improvement will do.
- Joe is officially teething now.
- This episode takes place on Mitch’s birthday.
- Lily is (in)famous for making chocolate chip scrambled eggs.
- Claire’s fake Facebook persona, Brody Kendall, has been mentioned previously on the show. He’s got Scott Baio, Claire’s presumptive childhood crush, on his custom header.
- Dylan has a job – and he’s a cash-for-gold sign acrobat.
- Haley’s favorite cartoon character is Snoopy from the Peanuts.
- Andy thinks shucks is the ‘s’ word.
- ”The minute they got rid of rotary phones everything went to hell.”
- ”Gross, I’ve been playing Candy Crush with my mother!”
- Next Week: Claire and Jay frantically try to compete with a fellow closet company by shooting a TV ad; Phil, Luke and Manny are tasked with destroying a camera drone that’s being used by a neighbor to spy on Gloria in various private moments and Andy is rushed to the hospital in “Closet? You’ll Love It!”
It could’ve been a lot worse, but it could’ve been a lot better. Enough gimmick, guys, more humor.