A quick review of tonight's "Modern Family" coming up just as soon as I order a Sanka...
After a couple of sub-par episodes that largely kept the three families apart, "Modern Family" was back in terrific form tonight with an outing that had at least some interaction between Jay and Mitchell's families. And it was that interaction - first with Mitchell playing the gaydar prank on Jay, then with Cameron turning up to show that the poor Kristen Schaal character had no gaydar - that led to some of the episode's best moments and biggest laughs.
I get what Steve Levitan was saying about it feeling contrived if the families are all together too often. But with the three groups living so close together, and with all of them having different kinds of childcare needs, it doesn't feel contrived at all to have a few characters from different groups crossing paths every week.
At the same time, some of the funniest bits in "Fifteen Percent" happened when the groups were isolated from one another: Mitchell asking the car's voice recognition software to give him directions to Hell and the car responding with "Mexican food," or Schaal being freaked out by Manny's wise-beyond-his-years quality, or Phil and Claire, and then Claire and Hayley, celebrating home theater success(*) in parallel to the Cutters celebrating their win in The Little 500 at the end of "Breaking Away."(**)
(*) This may just be one of those stories I could relate to a little too well, as I periodically get calls at work, on business trips, etc., to walk people at my house through the various remote control procedures necessary to make our living room AV equipment work. If I ever get conked on the head and develop retrograde amnesia, we're all in trouble, viewing-wise.
(**) Why do so many of the best Underdog Sports Movies of all time take place in Indiana? You've got "Breaking Away" (with early roles for Dennis Quaid, Jackie Earle Haley, Dennis Christopher and Daniel Stern), "Hoosiers" and even "Rudy."
Levitan's script had a lot of fun with Chazz Palminteri obliviously doing and saying stereotypically gay things, and it also had two of the best punchlines of the series to date: Gloria explaining that "I come from a neighborhood with a lot of prostitutes," and Mitchell responding to the fiery bouquet by telling the florist, "Look at that: two things flaming at once."
Very, very funny episode.
What did everybody else think?