Thursday, October 08, 2009

Modern Family, "Come Fly With Me": Play it again, Cam

Quick spoilers for last night's "Modern Family" coming up just as soon as I buy a diaper shed...

"Come Fly With Me" wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as the first two episodes, though it had its moments, particularly Mitchell's rapidly-developing love of CostCo ("Cam, what is this place?") and a milk-mustachioed Manny turning out to be such a good listener for Claire's problems.

But in many ways, I enjoyed it just as much as the first two, even if the humor was gentler (other than, of course, Phil taking an airplane to the face). Where the first two episodes largely kept the three families separate(*), this one showed that there are many potentially amusing combinations they can do with these characters. So it's not just going to be Claire being impatient with Phil every week, or Jay not understanding how to talk to Manny; here we see that you can put Gloria with Alex, or Jay with Phil, and there's a distinct relationship, and good jokes to tell, etc. For the show to work long-term, that's very important. I look forward to seeing Cameron and Mitchell worked in more with the other families in the coming weeks, as they were mostly on their own (and without the baby) here.

(*) The pilot did so because the creators wanted it to be a surprise that the three families were related. Then ABC marketing decided the show would be an easier sell if they could explain that part. And as someone who figured out the "twist" a few minutes into the pilot, I was relieved when everyone said it was okay for critics to mention it in their initial reviews, because it was going to be awkward to write around.

Also, even though the series has developed a bit of a formula where each episode ends on Jay doing or saying something heartwarming about his family, I like that both the pilot and this episode laced it with humor. Jay's making nice with Phil, and then Cam, as a favor to his kids, but he's obviously going through the motions - yet to Claire, and then Mitchell, it's the token effort that matters. So it works on both the sweet and comic level at once.

What did everybody else think?

28 comments:

Fortran said...

I liked the ep, though, yeah it wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as earlier eps. Of course, there was that great joke at the beginning with Phil and the boyfriend about being stuck on second base for a long time...

Mr Whirly said...

I got my wife to watch it for the first time last night and she really liked it but she did ask why it was so much like The Office in its camera work.

You said exactly what I was thinking about this episode. I thought week 2 was hilarious. This was more of a chuckle episode but I still love the characters and how they juxtaposition them.

I do hope they don't have every episode end in a heartwarming way. That will get old fast (though I agree with you that it was laced with humor too.)

Marieke said...

I love that there are little throwaway humor moments. Like Claire forgetting Manny was a 10 year old, to the point that she poured hot coffee into the milk he was drinking without even thinking as if he was drinking coffee and needed a top up. His bemused look into his milk after that cracked me up.

So far the only person that grates a bit is Phil -- I want to see him not just be whiny and trying to hard to be cool.

Otto Man said...

Great show.

"I'm going to be in the applesauce aisle!"

Collin said...

It's the only show I actually watch twice each week. (A) It holds up really well and (B) There's all kinds of one-liners I miss the first time through. It's brilliant.

Kathy said...

I am loving this show! Casablanca!

James said...

It was another funny episode and I was happy they opened up Gloria's character a bit. The plane to the face bit and Mitchell's love of Costco was a bit too obvious, but it was more than made up by Phil's hestitation to take out the trash while watching the game.

ithor6 said...

Great episode! This show has yet to disappoint on any level. The yelling at Luke got me every time and anything Manny says is golden.

Dave Sandell said...

I really enjoyed this episode, though I'd be okay with them not neatly resolving everything week after week.

I also though they toned down the reliance on stereotypes for Gloria and Cam, which is a necessary step for the longterm health of the show. So, glad to see that.

Loved that they set up jokes a few scenes in advance and didn't beat the audience over the head with the payoff (step-grandmother / Phil sitting on the couch arm).

Q Ball said...

Phil was very Michael Scott like this week, which is a bad thing.

Modern Family is a great comedy and the faux-documentary filming style already invited comparisons to one of the decade's best comedies in the Office. Phil is a funny character in his own right, there is no reason to write him with Michael Scott level aloofness.

Sharon said...

I really love this show, but have to agree that the Phil character is the weakest. I also noticed the similiarities to Michael Scott that others here have noted - they need to fix that. Otherwise, it is a great show - Manny is like Bobby Hill brought to life!

Manton said...

I'm a sucker for adults talking to children like they're adults and children playing the adult role (see Wet Hot American Summer for the best version of this). I can't believe how well the writers have a grip on these characters, and can't wait for more combinations. Man, this show is good!

Josh said...

The greatest part of that Manny and Claire scene for me was the fact that Manny was talking entirely in cliches borrowed from commercials and daytime TV (starting with his entrance lines about the cookies, which I'm pretty sure were taken straight from a Pillsbury commercial) and Claire was taking it all absolutely straight. And then that they didn't feel the need to underline it.

Velvet Hammer said...

Is Phil going to end up lying injured on the couch every week? That could easily be a running joke that might get lame after maybe one more time. LOVE this show!

Heather said...

I enjoyed the ep too but I do think it does wrap up a bit too neatly... conflict! Ha ha ha. I did laugh really hard for the end tag but I have heard of people who do dress up their son/daughter as the opposite sex.

Henry said...

I love the scenes with Manny and Claire. It's sweet that Claire gets to be a regular mom to Manny instead of having to deal with a bumbling husband or kids that don't listen to her.

"we're getting diaper sheds? We're those guys now?"

LA said...

Freaking love this show, and agree with the rest that Phil is the most annoying character and played a little too close to Michael Scott.

My only previous exposure to Julie Bowen was Boston Legal, and I'm delighted to see how well she does comedy.

Anyway, can't wait to see further random character pairings in the future.

Bryan Murray said...

Why the Face? The whole point of keeping it real is so you can take it to the next level.

I pretty much crack up any time Phil (or Feel) is on the screen so I’m not seeing the Michael Scott comparisons. But I think Michael can usually be pretty funny as well. Phil is basically a normal guy who has just become a complete family man – he likes beer, baseball; he’s a good dad. But as Al Bundy pointed out, he tries too hard. I thought the parallel uncomfortable couch scenes were classic.

I really like the random pairings and when different immediate families are brought together – it reminds me of the best parts of Steve Martin’s Parenthood. I’m going to say it (although it may be blasphemous): it’s approaching Arrested Dev level for me.

Rick said...

I may not be guffawing like the fist two episodes, but I thought this was the best of the three- similar to your 'best comedy' vs 'funniest show' conversation the other day.

I very much expect to find out someday that Cam cheated at Charades in order to get with Mitch.

Anonymous said...

Since there was a theme in the comunity thread that was comparing new shows, I would just like to say so far I am liking Comunity much more than Modern family, although both shows have bugs they need to work out. So far in modern family I am not liking the son-in-law and I don't like either gay guy. Most of the other characters I like, especially the kids, and the step-grandmother

JERRY said...

Fantastic episode! Man, does this show have heart and can these people act! Not as LOL funny, but incredible writing. Im hoping it doesn't get too sappy. CANT WAIT till EMMY time! too soon?

My new motto: "I'm sorta like CostCo: I'm big, I'm not fancy, and I dare you to not like me."

Paul Outlaw said...

Although I see what people are getting at with the Phil-Michael Scott comparisons, I can't embrace the notion because I am such a fan of Ty Burrell and I would have to consider Phil an improvement over Michael. Blasphemy, I know, but it's true.

SR said...

I'm enjoying the show, and it's the one thing keeping me interested in ABC comedy until Better Off Ted comes back.

A few thoughts:

- No once since Carroll O'Connor does "reluctant softie" better than Ed O'Neill.

- Phil is the only part of the show I'm not enjoying. I realize it's a broad character and a tough part to keep grounded. I'm not really a Ty Burrell fan. I would have loved to have seen Nestor Carbonell in the role, I think he would have been perfect.

- By contrast, I'm loving the guys who play Cameron and Mitchell, I think they know exactly where the line is between character and caricature.

- So far, I think the show is using its child actors very well. The "too smart for their age" gag can be tired (see also: 500 Days of Summer) but I thought last night's episode did a great job with it.

cadfile said...

I'm not getting the dislike of Phil. Phil cracks me up how he tries to be cool Dad adding to Claire's stress like a 3rd child. But then again I really don't care for The Office - too much mugging for the camera.

The disfunction of the family reminds me of my own family. I can picture my Grandpa hitting my Uncle with an airplane then blaming him for moving.

Cam and Mitch are a hoot and I loved Mitchell going gaga over Costco. I never knew there was such a thing as a diaper shed....

Anonymous said...

man, it took me ages to work out cameron was getting casablanca from mitchell's charade

srpad said...

Loving this show! My favorite part was the subtle joke with Manny and the word "Step".

The Costco arc was telegraphed (and I suspect a paid placement) but still made me laugh and laugh. The look on Mitchell's(?-still learning the character names) face when he said, "What is this place?" was wonderful!

I am not seeing the Michael Scott/Phil comparisons. I think the similar narrative style is creating things that aren't there. Phil tries too hard and doesn't want to grow up. Michael is desparately lonely and completely unself-aware. Not really the same thing.

Trish said...

This show was advertised to death in NYC subway cars, along with all the other ABC comedies, and I was prepared to dislike this show just from the ads. I'm so happy to be proven wrong -- this show's delightful. Cam and Mitchell are my favorites; the bit with Casablanca had me giggling.

Callaghan said...

Even though I'm quite enjoying the show, I really wish they would ditch the speaking-to-camera talking heads bits. It feels dated.

That said, very solid. And having read the pilot script for the upcoming Parenthood, can we agree that Modern Family is out-parenthood-ing Parenthood?