Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Modern Family, "Coal Digger": Football, you bet

Very quick spoilers for tonight's "Modern Family" coming up just as soon as I ruin gay for you...

While not up to the standards of last week's wonderful "The Incident," "Coal Digger" found several more amusing family combinations (Luke feuding with "uncle" Manny, Alex trying to bond with Grampa Jay, and, of course, Claire and Gloria being tense around each other), featured another wave of great throwaway jokes(*), and even managed to make Phil seem like not a complete doofus for a few minutes as he defended Claire to Gloria. And the family all jumping or being pushed into the pool was one of the better of the show's requisite Heartwarming Endings (Sincere Edition).

(*) Lately, as I take my notes on shows, I jot down "just as soon as I" candidates. Usually, the winner makes itself obvious right away, but every time I thought I had it locked, another one would come and top it. At various points, it was going to involve climbing a rope, eating bubbles, dressing up as the Hamburglar, dressing like a count, wearing an ascot, going a really long time without blinking, and The Righteous Brothers coming on the jukebox.

What did everybody else think?

52 comments:

Matt said...

I nearly spit my water out at the Dick Butkus line.

Yet another anonymous said...

I missed last week's episode, so I can't compare this to that, but this show continues to grow on me, whereas Cougar Town, which isn't terrible, loses me more and more. The latter is fine to have on if there's nothing else, but Modern Family has earned a place on my DVR.

I really did not expect to like this show so much when I first heard about it, and I'm really enjoying watching the ensemble gel together.

Alanna said...

One thing that occurred to me during tonight's episode is that I really like how Gloria does seem to genuinely love Jay. The "gold digger" cliche could've easily applied to her, given the circumstances of their relationship, but the writers seem to be taking pains to show that there might be an element of the trophy wife in their marriage, but it's also much more than that.

Dan said...

Love the homage to the Beach Bums...

Brian said...

Funny show, but goddamn do I wish it had the guts to follow through on its ALMOST honest presentation of uncomfortable family entanglements. It comes right up to the edge of telling the truth and then backs down in the third act, succumbing to B.S. sentimentality (the token Heartwarming Ending as you put it). Family is a rich vein for comedy because there's so much heightened emotion, and right now the show is refusing to honestly deal with emotions like hate and jealousy and fear and resentment. It ALMOST deals with them but then backs down. I know it's a comedy but I believe there's a way to deal with that stuff in a funny way without resorting to sentimental mush at the end of every freaking episode.

Anonymous said...

the part that bothered me was how none of the football action was shown in any kind of order. They all show up and the game is in the 4th quarter. They talk about it being a close game and one team being able to tie and it's the 1st quarter. And no big 10 games are on during the week which it would have to have been if the kids were in school this day. Other than that, Thumbs up

Anonymous said...

They're really deft at using props (like the water gun and now the colorful underwear).

Henry said...

"I just hate it when my two girls have a problem."
"How exactly is she your girl?"

Baaaad thing to say in front of your wife.

KC said...

This was pretty funny, one of the few shows where I actually laugh out loud, which is so rare these days. Love that Manny is now finishing a pot of coffee...

No complaints here, funny show.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Now that I think about it, Dick Butkus is a rather unfortunate name. I guess it was topped by the fact that he was one of the greatest linebackers of all time.

Henry said...

"You said it in the Mexican restaurant..."

I dunno why, but that throwaway comment from Luke cracked me up, especially since it was about Gloria. The best lines from this show aren't even isolated to the adults.

Henry said...

Poor Phil. He is such a sad sack...

Zachary Beach said...

I would agree that this episode did not break new ground, but I found it to be just as funny.

Tyroc said...

I did enjoy it quite a bit but do think the gold digger comment would cause more tension than could be fixed in an afternoon. Not sure why having someone jump in a pool would relieve that. So the ending didn't work for me at all.

(Did they set up she hates getting wet?)

Definitely too sincere this time. Brady Bunch sincere.

GracieGirl said...

Please help my memory - is this show meant to take place in the mid-west? I was under the impression that the setting was somewhere in southern CA. If it is Cali, then I find it interesting that Mitch ends up romantically involved with a man who played football at the same mid-west school, many states away, that Jay has some affiliation with and/or is a fan of. I'd love to see that used somehow in the future.

Just a personal musing from an Ohio girl...

I really enjoyed tonight's episode. In addition to many of the funny moments already mentioned, I liked Haley's running commentary to her friend on the phone. And I'm still laughing at the Erik Estrada line.

rosseau said...

Phil saying that he wants to be the cause and the solution to a problem is so much what Homer Simpson would say.

Fav. line, from Manny: "Great, now my mom is fighting wih my sister."

Steve Wirzba said...

This episode got the most laughs out of all of them from me so far. I disagree with the idea of the sentimentality being BS, instead I think its earned. They are a quirky family, but they're not off the deep end (puntended) by any means, and that pool scene felt totally genuine to me. I'm also intrugied by Brian's comment/lamentation for a bang-on comedy that doesnt sacrifice some truth for the laughs, but would ask if he could name drop a shows that's actually ever done this...

Collin said...

I'm still laughing at the image of Luke jumping on his pogo stick... on the trampoline.

Anonymous said...

Jay was an Ohio State fan, Mitch played for Illinois

Derek said...

I'd like this show a lot more if I didn't want to throw up every time Phil spoke. I know, he's supposed to be uncomfortable-funny, but he just comes off desperately sad and annoying to me.

domino87 said...

This show just continues to bring the laughs. Funniest new comedy since 30 Rock imo.

Really makes me wonder how Levitan and Lloyd got "Back to You" picked up before this show.

Indeed said...

The throwaway moments in this show are endless and so funny. For me, in yesterday's episode this is the moment that killed: When Jay is asking Mitchell and Cameron whether they find him attractive. He says something about the Righteous Brothers being on in the background, and Cameron for a split second looks straight at the camera with the funniest look.
This show is laugh out loud funny for me and repeat viewing funny too.
I'm telling everyone I know that this is the show to watch

Kathy said...

Phil just gives me the creeps with all the hugs and following Gloria into her bedroom. If this guy was in my family, I'd make sure I was never left alone with him. They might want to downplay that side of his personality a little in the future!

fuzzydunlop said...

The actor who plays Cam must be an Illinois native (or really did his research) because he pronounces it "Ellinois" like everyone from there.

Otto Man said...

"I collect antique fountain pens, I'm quite adept at Japanese flower arrangement -- ichibana -- and I was a starting offensive lineman for the University of Illinois. ... Surprise!"

Anonymous said...

Was anyone else waiting for Jay to brag about scoring 4 touchdowns in a game during his high school career?

Carrie said...

This show is just hitting it out of the park every week for me. I can't remember the last time a show barreled out of the gates like this, comedy wise.

"Give me a break. I have to climb a rope today." (Or something similar -- my memory is spotty.)

Manny is genius.

Anonymous said...

GracieGirl,

As an Ohio guy, I think that making Ed O'Neill's character a fan of Ohio State was a tip of the hat to his being an Ohio native(born and raised in Youngstown) and having played football at both Ohio University and Youngstown State University.

Of course, he went on to be drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers (though he was cut prior to the season starting), a fact that this Cleveland Browns fan conveniently chooses to ignore. :)

Anonymous said...

While Mitch is great, Cam is more than unbelievable - especially in his talking head moments. The second, "Surprise" last night was just perfect. The claw hands he used to explain Charades in an earlier episode was priceless too.

GracieGirl said...

@Anonymous 1:51am - Thanks for the clarification! I have no idea how I got that mixed up. I'm a Buckeye fan myself, so you think I would have realized that Jay was rooting for my team.

@Anonymous 10:44am - Very cool! I was completely unfamiliar with Ed O'Neil's Ohio background and his football days were before my time. I, too, will have to forgive him ever being involved with the Steelers. Go Browns! (Sigh.)

Jay said...

I'm just wondering how long Manny can make the uncle/brother jokes and have it still be funny. It's starting to wear on me already, since its like the third week in a row, they have him trot out the same sort of lines.

JERRY said...

I was beaten to Manny's best line!

"NICE GOING, NOW MY MOM AND MY SISTER ARE FIGHTING!"

Another solid episode.

Dennis said...

I gave this show a whirl last night and I laughed out loud a couple of times so I'll either catch up with it online or I'll just go through it during Xmas when there isn't much to watch.

I'm not familiar with the characters as of yet but the guy who plays Julie Bowen's husband is absolute money and I could watch him in every scene. Ed O'Neill nails his part and the gay son-in-law is gold as well.

For family humour, it really reminded me of Sons and Daughers both in terms of the same kind of beats and of it being a show that I really enjoyed even though that's totally not the kind of programs I usually gravitate towards.

mjryan said...

@ Jay re: Manny's lines: I think it's kind of the point for them to get old. Everyone has that relative that says the same thing over and over. Usually, it's an older person telling the same story/joke. This time, it's an old soul 10 year old who wears aftershave, dresses like an accountant and drinks an entire pot of coffee to gear up for PE.

Thinking of Manny just makes me LOL.

Phil is still the character that grates the most. I'm still having a hard time seeing whatever attracted Claire to him in the first place, although his defense of Claire to Gloria was a great moment.

I'm sure all of us know that, even though there was the warm fuzzy sentimental moment at the end, the issues are still there. You never really get over stuff like that, you just get good at faking being over it. That's family.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice a continuity gaffe, when FEEL was talking to Gloria in the bedroom, and he said something like "I remember the first time Clare brought me home...blah blah blah...but then by that point Mitchell had come home with Cameron..." And presumably Claire and Phil have been together some-teen years now, but I could have sworn in the pilot we were told in a talking head that Mitchell and Cam had been together only four years. ???

Alan Sepinwall said...

Really makes me wonder how Levitan and Lloyd got "Back to You" picked up before this show.

This may be heresy, but I don't think the writing on "Modern Family" is that much sharper than it was on "Back to You." The difference is simply the format. Accompany Manny's comments or The Cam Show with loud, raucous laughter from the studio audience, and a lot of the punchlines sound more grating, I think. The rhythm of the dialogue feels very much like on most of Levitan's multi-camera work, but nobody has to pause for laughter before the next line can come.

Jordan said...

"Funny show, but goddamn do I wish it had the guts to follow through on its ALMOST honest presentation of uncomfortable family entanglements. It comes right up to the edge of telling the truth and then backs down in the third act, succumbing to B.S. sentimentality (the token Heartwarming Ending as you put it). Family is a rich vein for comedy because there's so much heightened emotion, and right now the show is refusing to honestly deal with emotions like hate and jealousy and fear and resentment. It ALMOST deals with them but then backs down. I know it's a comedy but I believe there's a way to deal with that stuff in a funny way without resorting to sentimental mush at the end of every freaking episode."

Pretty much my thoughts on the show as well. Still really like it. But the requisite sentimentality for your average tv viewer keeps me from being able to really love it.

The show is obviously trying it's hardest to be Arrested Development-lite. It walks to the edge of the cliff, but doesn't jump. It's the guy at the bar who acts like he wants to fight you at first, but then pretends his friends are holding him back.

While it borders on annoying me. The required sentimental endings are obviously a conscious effort to not become another AD in that it isn't able to catch on with the masses. Both demographically in age, gender, as well as geographically. I watch the show and laugh at all the asides and one liners. My mom watches the show and after seeing the sentimental ending goes, "Awwwww. See that? Their family is crazy, but still at the end of the day all love each other. They are just like us." And my elitist internet tv blogging friends, my mother represents a much higher segment of Nielsen votes than the people who laugh at witty sarcastic one-liners. So yeah, I get what they are doing. It's kinda annoying watching the show try to have it's cake and eat it to. But in the end, it's smart from a ratings standpoint. It's a sad commentary on the state of television from a creative standpoint. But creative vision comes secondary to pleasing your audience, network execs, and staying on the air.

Anonymous said...

Did anybody catch the promo during the commercial break with the actors playing Phil and Claire were promoting some cause called "A Better Community"? Coincidence?

dez said...

Most of the shows on ABC are doing that "A Better Community" thing this week. Bleah.

Still loving this show long time. I want to be in that family, though the pool thing would have just led to a bigger, nastier fight if it was my real family, hee hee!

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

This show is simply my favorite of the new season. It has heart, REAL heart and just enough crude crassness to make me giggle like a school girl. They do an excellent job writing the scenes, I love the casting and the characters are fleshed out pretty well. There is so much potential for this show and I look forward to seeing it each week. The storyline potential is endless with this cast of characters.

I also like your observation regarding Gloria - they did a good job with her character, she is actually a loving person and a devoted wife and mother. That could have been a one-trick character but they did not go for the cheap or obvious.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Lily's apparent slow-paced development will be brought up again?

...Actually, where did that baby go?

Hatfield said...

So is that Better Community thing a fundraiser, or a lame attempt to fuel the feud fire with a show on another night?

Jordan said...

It's all gimmick. Just a ploy to try to come off as pc and society conscious. NBC has been doing the same things with it's stars. Having them do psa's about being a better person. blah blah blah.

dez said...

A Better Community

A B C

get it? ha hahahah ugh.

Hatfield said...

dez, I think the tinkly music just played when I read your last comment...

erin said...

I think some of my favorite scenes are the tags...Cam and Jay playing center/QB and grossing out Jay's kids in the process? Excellent! Cam continues to be my favorite character, and I like his and Mitch's chemistry together.

And I'm enjoying the continuing development of Gloria, and I think the writers are walking the right line with her.

I'm a little annoyed with people who say it's trying to be Arrested Development...I know to many AD was the gold standard of comedy, but I think MF is funny in it's own right and doesn't need to be compared to anything else. The writing's terrific, the characters are mostly believable (and even if they're over the top, they're damn funny), and the style is great for the concept (if not completely original). You don't have to reinvent the wheel to make a great show.

And I Loved Cam dangling baby Lily out the doorway too!

My favorite throwaway: "And mom doesn't look good wet." (one of the kids as Claire is about to jump in the pool). Ha! It's not the best look for most people!

Gridlock said...

"Ugh - there's hugging"

-- A reference to LD's "no hugging, no learning" rule?

LA said...

Love this show. I thought it was great when Mitchell went "to get a beer" and they showed him affectedly holding a glass of white wine. And, OMG, Cam snapping the ball to Jay, and Jay's kids' reactions - golden. So was the scene where Jay asks his son and Cam if he's attractive to men.

leor said...

@Anonymous 1:53
"Did anyone notice a continuity gaffe, when FEEL was talking to Gloria in the bedroom, and he said something like "I remember the first time Clare brought me home...blah blah blah...but then by that point Mitchell had come home with Cameron..." And presumably Claire and Phil have been together some-teen years now, but I could have sworn in the pilot we were told in a talking head that Mitchell and Cam had been together only four years. ???"

i think, based on Phil and Jay's interactions so far in the series, it's taken a LONG time for Jay to accept Phil, so i think it's supposed to be part of the joke that even up to 4 years ago, Jay didn't think Phil was good enough for Claire.

TheJersey said...

"Surprise"

I never would have thought that my favorite and the only shows I will continue to watch this season have the leads of Married with Children as main characters. Ed O'Neil in Modern and Katey Sagal in Sons of Anarchy.Both shows have great supporting casts as well.

The only thing about Modern that wears on me is the token "Heartwarming Ending" hopefully as they build their audience they can move away from the need for a bow at the end.

I didn't watch it when it aired but the PSA is part of television network wide (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and the cable networks,) community service awareness program a few shows have incorporated volunteerism into their plot lines.

Hatfield said...

See, I've come around to the opinion that the "Heartwarming Ending" is itself a joke. And even if they're not doing it ironically, I'm gonna take it that way, because it's much funnier for me if I do.

Rob S. said...

"Ruined gay for me" cemented my feeling that this is the best new comedy of the year.