Thursday, April 29, 2010

Modern Family, "Travels with Scout": I am not left-handed, either

A review of last night's "Modern Family" coming up just as soon as I lose the deposit on that fog machine...

I often have less to say about the episodes of "Modern Family" that work than the ones that don't, and since two and a half out of the three main stories this week were very funny, I'm going to be brief.

Cameron's brief drumming career was a nice example of the writers striking gold with an unexpected character crossover, with Dylan and his bandmates briefly being awed by Cam's stick skills, and Mitchell and Hayley bonding over their totally rockin' boyfriends. Jay's fiasco with the slasher film was a good story where good intentions (and a mental image of Mitchell's friend as a sweet kid who would never star in such a movie) led to increasingly bad consequences (and which gave Rico Rodriguez his usual chances to shine as Manny), and in the main plot, I enjoyed both Claire's growing affection for Scout and Luke unintentionally acting like a dog.

But as to the main part of the main plot, I think I find Fred Willard a little too perfect in his casting as Phil's dad, if that makes sense. If you wanted to cast someone who'd be Phil plus a few decades, you go get Willard, who's made a career out of playing men who think they're much funnier than they actually are. But the idea that Phil is the way he is because his dad is exactly like him, while logical, was maybe too on-the-nose to click for me, and I spent a lot of the Willard scenes waiting for the episode to swing around to someone else's story.

Still, very funny overall ("What's up with 21 Jump Street?"). What did everybody else think?

46 comments:

Otto Man said...

"You should really label those drumsticks!"

Chris Littmann said...

+1 on the drumstick comment. Also, Luke's "What happened?" when he ran through the screen killed me.

Matt Wilstein said...

While I agree that Fred Willard's a little too perfect, the idea that they are incapable of having a serious conversation makes so much sense. Here's that scene:
http://bit.ly/buQsZ6

Rinaldo said...

Since Fred Willard is undoubtedly going to be on only occasionally, I can live with him being "too perfect for the role," if that's what he is. I actually had more trouble with the continuing of the Luke-as-dog business -- funny with the door, then increasingly hard to buy after that.

But with so much firing on all cylinders here, why complain? Great show.

LDP said...

"You're hotter than a Vegas sidewalk on the Fourth of July!"

Funny 'cause it's true . . .

Anonymous said...

Apres ski fondue party! Gotta grab my ski sweater-

jeffrey said...

i so wanted the tag line for today's review to be "just as soon as i identify all the commie airplanes." loved that line from jay last night.

The CineManiac said...

Loved the episode. I loved Luke running through the screen and not knowing what happened, even though I'd seen it on the commercial several times. In fact the whole Luke as the family dog storyline was great. Luke's scenes usually are the ones that have me laughing the most. (I laugh just thinking of him saying "My tongue is numb like at the dentist")
But I also loved the conclusion to the Manny storyline with the creepy guy outside the window saying "I'm here for you."
Another solid episode of what is quickly becoming my favorite comedy on TV.

SaraK said...

"Honey-do! what's up?" -Phil
The entire Cam-drumsticks storyline and all the zingers were ROTFL!

Heather K said...

I agree with you Alan on thinking that it was too on the nose. I knew that Fred Willard would play Phil's dad before I saw him, and I knew it so thoroughly that I wondered if he had actually been on the show before.

I did love the storylines though, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE how Cam is like a master of all trades with drumming, clown, football, photography, seriously I love Cam.

Miken said...

They've had a couple good name jokes with Phil mistakenly hearing "Feel" from Gloria a while back and now Frank being more "Frank" with how hot he finds Gloria.

And for some reason I always get a kick out of the "Panties in a bunch" jokes where they actually point to the cliche happening.

Keith Glaser said...

Don't forget the phone conversation at the beginning where Phil was getting the 3rd degree in a sing-song lilt. We loved Luke running through the screen, but thought the joke got old by the end.

Kristi said...

Loved Cam with his faux-hawk and guyliner. What was on his t-shirt? I couldn't tell- it looked like a pic of a scary doll.

"This is awkward......Oh, for me."

srpad said...

The show still delivers. The Fred Willard stuff was okay to me. The only things I thought were a little off were:

1. The Manny plot just seemed a little Sit-com-y to me. The set up for the final scene would have been funnier if it wasn't so obviously set up.

2. I loved the Cameron story but it seemed a little strange when put side by side with the (was it last week's?) earlier story of Cam hating working and wanting to be back home. It seems like he swung between running back to Lily and feeling stifled awfully fast.

srpad said...

Oops in my first point, that should read "The payoff of the final scene..."

Tom said...

My biggest disappointment wasn't seeing Fred Willard as Phil's dad, but in NOT seeing his mother. I look forward to that, and nominate Catherine O'Hara for the role.

Indeed said...

Manny running and screaming from the machete wielding actor at the window was too much. I love that kid and I love Cameron.
Not my fave episode, but enought for me to enjoy a lot.

jeffrey said...

kristi - the pic on cam's shirt was lilly from one of the many photo shoots cam has with her. that shirt was easily my wife's favorite part of the ep.

Kristi said...

Jeffrey- thanks for the clarification :) We've just started watching "Modern Family" these past few weeks, so I'm sure once we go back and see the beginning of the season, I'll see things like that and get more of the recurring inside jokes. Just like "Arrested Development" :)

*melissa* said...

I really liked the fact that they showed Manny as a kid. I mean they have gone through his problems at school, and girls, etc..but he always acts like such an adult, where as in this episode, he was a normal kid, scared of horror movie, sleeping in his parents bed, etc.. It was really refreshing.

Ryan said...

Wow, this show is tremendous, from start-to-finish a laugh riot. My favorite part was Mitchell and Hailey bonding over their band boyfriends. Mitchell's face was priceless as he watched.

jeffrey said...

kristi - not to spoil anything for you with too many details, but cam's fondness for dressing lilly up in wigs actually saves her in ep 6, "run for your wife". you'll have fun watching the early eps.

Kevin said...

Fred Willard was on the show as Phil's dad before last night right?

Didn't Phil have a Skype webcam chat with him and the mother before?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but why is having someone whose dad is exactly who you'd expect "too on the nose?" Isn't Luke exactly Phil's child (and why they delight so in one another's company)?

Alan Sepinwall said...

It makes sense character-wise. It just wasn't incredibly funny to me.

Susan said...

When Jay said that he could identify all the commie airplanes and Gloria said, "What are we talking about?" my husband I laughed so hard we had to pause the show. There was just something about the way the conversation veered into that tangent, followed by Vergara's delivery, that was perfect.

Anonymous said...

Mitchell trying to EXPLAIN the fondue party and quickly realizing "Yeah it's a gay thing" was super awesome.

Also ROLFing from Luke and the screen.

-EmeraldLiz

jeffrey said...

susan - i agree with you completely on vergara's delivery and their dynamic. i love the way she says 'jay'. kind of like 'yay'.

i can appreciate this because my wife is latina and when we visit family in mexico everyone calls me 'yeff'.

Chris S. said...

Third the praise for Vergara's delivery. She is an excellent excellent comedic actress. I think perhaps this gets overlooked in favor of her other ... ahem ... assets.

dez said...

Cam fooled me with the drumstick gag. Also loved Manny fleeing in terror from the actor.

I'm glad it was just a horror movie, as I thought it was going to be art-house pr0n for a moment there....

LA said...

Is there anything Cam can't do? God, I love him.

Anonymous said...

Cam's bit with switching the drumsticks and proceeding to kick out some serious jams had me laughing like nothing else in this show's history.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I thought this episode was a total bust. Sure there were some good moments (like Cam with the drumsticks) but too many of the beats felt way too familiar or way too obvious. Was there anyone who didn't see Claire falling for the dog coming from a mile away? Luke running into the screen was funny, but Luke stuck in the cage felt like an easy joke and something I'd expect from a lesser show.

JanieJones said...

I thought the episode was great! I love Rico Rodriguez. His reaction to the actor had me in stitches. Cam is just perfection.
Count me as a fourth in regards to Sofia. She is a scream.
Mitchell and his party, too priceless.

Toby O'B said...

Gloria's "We're going to need a bigger bed!" was a great way to end that very hilarious scene. And as per your subject heading, Alan, I also thought of "The Princesss Bride" when he did the switch....

Douglas said...

"Arrested Development" debuted on national TV audiences way too soon.

I can only dream of a alternate reality in which "Modern Family" is followed by "Arrested" at 9:30 (which I guess you could do if you record old AD episodes off the IFC channel where they are currently airing).

*sigh*

Pablo said...

'Oh! Silly me! I had the sticks in the wrong hands...'
I loved to see Cam going IƱigo Montoya!

Kyle said...

Was that a photo of Lily on Cam's tee shirt at the gig?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry....some of you are complaining that a sitcom is to "sitcom-y"? Isn't that silly?

I thought the episode was great. Cam's drumming was awesome...as was his delivery of "That hurt more Dylan" after finding out he was too old. Even if you saw Claire bonding with Scout a mile away....why should that bother you at all? Because you can predict things on a sitcom it makes it not good/funny?

I loved it. Can't wait for even more new episodes.

Danger Boy said...

I was wondering if Fred Willard ad-libbed that "Frankly" line, because Ed O'Neill's reaction seemed very, very real -- he cracked up and nearly doubled over and the quick cut away from the scene. I'm sure the "be frank" set-up was in the script, but I imagine he had options for his reply, since he's such a great improviser. A ridiculously small point, I know, but interesting to me.

LAprGuy said...

Or, maybe more to the point, I can see the casting director for the series initially seeking "a young Fred Willard" to play Phil.

Seeing Fred Willard always reminds me how great it is to Fred Willard.

Mr Burns said...

Douglas: your line-up is solid, if only preceded by Better off Ted. Now we're talking Must See TV.

Susan said...

I love this show and never miss an episode and have gotten my husband addicted. And let me jump on the Sofia Vergara bandwagon - she's one of my favorites.

There is something though that is starting to catch my attention - and that is the lack of physical affection between Cam and Mitchell. This week's episode was a perfect example - after the show, in the parking lot, when Mitchell saw Cam he congratulated him without even a hug. It felt weird.

Now, I get that ABC is treading cautiously on the gay partnership thing. I heard an interview with the guy who plays Cameron talking down their showing Cam and Mitchell kissing. Whatever. And the show gets at other important dynamics in their relationship that are valuable and I applaud the network for doing that.

But for Mitchell not to even hug Cam after his big performance seemed out of place for their relationship. (I watched the ep a second time - it's as though the director yelled 'OK, now not too close!' as Mitchell greets Cam). They haven't made Mitchell awkward about PDA (which would fit his character), or in the scene give Cam a line about being too sweaty to hug. And in comparison to the closeness and hugging between the other, heterosexual families, it is even more apparent.

Conan O'Brien Tickets said...

Has anyone purchased Conan O'Brien Tickets from the website http://conan-obrien-tickets.doitbigtickets.com/

Conan O'Brien Tickets said...

Has anyone purchased Conan O'Brien Tickets from the website http://conan-obrien-tickets.doitbigtickets.com/

Anonymous said...

I just want to know what that song is they played at the concert! It's stuck in my head and can't find it anywhere.