A quick review of last night's "Modern Family" coming up just as soon as I put the weasel in my pants...
"Up All Night" was yet another "Modern Family" episode to keep the three families separate (save for Phil doing magic for Cam in the tag), and yet another episode that was much less engaging than the ones that either put the whole family together or mix them up into odd combinations.
The pilot showed that the show can, in fact, be very funny even when the three groups aren't interacting (or aren't interacting until the end), so it's not that these characters don't automatically work together. I think the issue is that episodes that take that approach tend to feel a bit more complacent, willing to just do variations on the same handful of jokes for the running time. So while it was funny at first that Phil was afraid of Claire being around the hot firemen, or that Cam refused to go along with Mitchell's plan to Ferber-ize baby Lily - and while some individual jokes within those stories worked, like Cam explaining Lily's love of "Scarface" - overall the episode felt flatter and more repetitive than the show is in stronger episodes like "Fizbo" or "The Incident."
Jay's story was the least overtly comic, but it was also the strongest of the three because it didn't just sit there. It had a beginning (Jay doesn't trust Javier), a middle (Jay lets himself get charmed by Javier), and an end (Jay discovers, as Gloria and Manny did long before, that Javier will always let you down), and was well-played by Ed O'Neill, Benjamin Bratt, Sofia Vergara and Rico Rodriguez.
Also, I'd like them to decide on a consistent plan for the documentary framework (or whatever it is, since the characters don't usually react to the cameras the way people on "The Office" or "Parks and Recreation" do). Phil's talking head about his "golden ticket" clearly took place after he left the hospital - and, therefore, after he had already lost the ticket because Claire got a look at the hot blonde sisters - yet Ty Burrell played the first half of it like he still had metaphorical possession of the thing. If the talking heads are part of a documentary being filmed about the families, then they need to be treated as such, and make sense in the context of the events happening around them. If the idea is that they're more abstract, and an excuse for the characters to share their thoughts directly with the audience, then that needs to be made more clear, in the manner that fourth-wall-breaking sitcoms like "Titus" or "The Bernie Mac Show" (or even the awful "The War at Home") have done in the past. Because the current approach is just distracting.
What did everybody else think?