Apparently it was Eric Stonestreet’s idea to do a Halloween episode of ‘Modern Family’. Well, good for him. What could have been a gimmicky episode without much content ended up really solid.
When a show has to be written with a specific theme in mind, it can end up going very badly. Wedding episodes and baby episodes are bad, but holiday episodes can be the worst. With the exception of early seasons of ‘The Simpsons’, Halloween episodes tend toward the self-indulgent and pandering. Thankfully, ‘Modern Family’ has some standards.
Halloween is important to Claire – it’s her holiday. She loves scary movies, she loves dressing up, and she absolutely loves putting together a haunted house for the trick-or-treaters. She wants everything to go right, but Phil starts acting strange when he finds out that a neighbor (played by Matt Besser of ‘Upright Citizen’s Brigade’ fame) is getting a divorce.
Phil’s not the only one causing trouble for Claire. Alex has absolutely no desire to participate in the festivities, and hasn’t even started work on a costume. Meanwhile, Haley is trying on skimpy outfit after skimpy outfit, none of which meet with Claire’s approval.
After teasing Gloria a bit about her accent, Jay gets himself in hot water. Gloria doesn’t yell or get angry, but acts out by speaking in an American accent for the rest of the day. Some of the accent jokes are a little easy, but the package of baby Jesuses is a good gag. What’s really funny, and more than a little unsettling, is Gloria’s version of the American accent. It’s like she mixes the Minnesota, Midwest, and even the Kennedy accent into one strange amalgamation.
Gloria keeps it up all the way until the Halloween party where she’s dressed as an incredibly sexy witch, or brujeria (not to be confused with this Brujeria ), and creeps out the rest of the family as well. She also punches Mitchell straight in the face, which is as funny as it sounds.
Cameron plays a smaller part in the episode, constantly reminding Mitchell that Halloween for him “is a hard time.” Justin Kirk, better known as Andy on ‘Weeds’, gets a little bit of screen time, but not nearly enough. Mitchell gets plenty of screen time, however, as he attempts to disguise the fact that he’s wearing a costume at work. This results in humiliation and an incredibly funny scene where Mitchell, dressed as Spider-Man, must escape a men’s room by rapelling out the window.
‘Halloween’ is an all-around good episode that doesn’t rely too much on the gimmick of a Halloween party. Instead, the party at the end serves as a culmination for the individual plots that have been going on throughout the episode. Jay and Gloria make up, Cameron finally reveals his troubled Halloween past, and Claire gets the Halloween she wanted. It’s a nice wrap-up, as is Jay’s bomb story in the final sequence.
[Just a note to those looking forward to the NBC Thursday recap tomorrow. I'm going to be attending the live Rifftrax event tonight, but I'll catch up over the weekend and have something up for you next week.]