Modern Family, “Knock ‘Em Down,” (6.20) - TV Review


MF Knock

April 22nd, 2015, 9PM, ABC

Jay – who’s more than feeling his age thanks to a terrible picture on his bulk warehouse store membership card - agrees to fill in for Cam on his bowling team for a crucial championship game, not realizing the league is for LGBTQ members only. Cam has to lie and scramble to prevent his rival from finding out that his father-in-law is straight and blowing the whistle on their scheme, and Jay must play along to secure the trophy ; Phil and Clair surprise themselves by bonding with the LaFontaines over dinner and an obscene lawn statue belonging to one of their neighbors; and Gloria and Mitch agree to go out dancing and drinking with a vivacious Haley, all the while trying to prove that they’re hip and modern and still able to dance all night. But they’re completely unable to keep up with the energetic twenty year old, who pre-games her club nights with mojitos and margaritas, getting them blasted before they even leave the house.

To my relief, this episode isn’t yet another row between Mitch and Jay over Mitch’s homosexuality. This time we get a weird, Threes Company-ish plot where Jay has to pretend he’s gay so Cam can win a glitter-glommed statue that’s suddenly the most important thing in the universe – sadly not a huge shock for the competitive Cam. Most of the best chunks of the storyline come from Oliver Platt’s appearance as Cam’s latest rival, where he manages to wring a deadpan acerbicness from his rotely written character.

Then there’s the sight of the La Fontaines and Claire and Phil deciding that the only way to react to their neighbor’s eyesore of a sexually explicit lawn statue is to destroy it. It’s an odd way for the characters to finally bond and it completely ignores the fact that the LaFontaines have multiple eyesores in their own yard that’ve drawn Phil and Claire’s ire in previous episodes. Julie Bowen’s funny, elastic performance is the best one here, though Steve Zahn continues to apply a cool sense of reserve to his every appearance as the LaFontaine paterfamilias.

As for the Mitch and Gloria storyline, it was gently amusing in a very silly way; the best and most easy storyline in the episode to relate to, and a delight when it comes to making the characters likable and interesting.

Knock ‘Em Down is a pretty good episode of Modern Family; burdened still with clichés and issues, with terrible character choices and ridiculous moments, it also shows flashes of good humor, nice character moments, fun jokes and is decently entertaining. It remains a flawed, clichéd sitcom –with those occasional moments that make you burst out laughing.

  • “Where’s the guy that scored the winning touchdown and was carried off by his team?! This guy looks like he was carried off by the current!”
  • Cam really DOES have a lot of rivals; we just met one in the last episode.
  • The La Fontaines finally end up looking better than the neighbors across the street because they’ve installed an obscene statue across the way. Because of course they have.
  • Oliver Platt, well known actor who may be best known for his appearance in a mid-90’s adaptation of the Three Musketeers and who appeared in an American adaption of Cracker guest-stars as Cam’s rival Martin.
  • “Kid can’t hit the toilet but he wakes up with symphonies in his head!”
  • The name of Cam’s bowling team is the ‘Britney Spares’.
  • Winning the trophy is the happiest moment of Cam’s life, topping adopting Lily, marrying Mitch, his high school football championship and sitting behind Sarah Jessica Parker at Wicked.
  • “There’s the girl I…occasionally have sex fantasies about!”
  • Next Week: Claire refuses to let Phil buy a video game console, Jay and Gloria fight when Joe shows an interest in non-stereotypically masculine toys; Haley, tired of being trampled by her boss at work, tries to stand up for herself and Claire tries to bribe one of the kids’ principals in “Integrity”!

An okay episode, though burdened by some painful clichés and some bad character choices.

  • GREAT 8.1

About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.