Well, ‘Modern Family’ wasn’t bad last week, but it really wasn’t that good either. A normally likeable character got a little monstrous, and though there were lessons to be learned, nobody actually learned them. It was funny enough, but it didn’t feel like ‘Modern Family’.
‘Go Bullfrogs!’ was written by Abraham Higginbotham, who has consistently delivered good episodes like ‘The Kiss‘, ‘Mother’s Day‘ and ‘Good Cop Bad Dog‘. Director Scott Ellis worked on ‘The Kiss’ with Higginbotham, and that seemed like a really good sign. Unlike those episodes, which helped to define the show, ‘Go Bullfrogs!’ just falls flat.
Things start off with Phil taking Haley to look at his old college in order to give her a feel for campus life and to help her decide if she’d like to go. Phil is, of course, incredibly embarrassing, and Haley reacts accordingly. Phil’s pretty funny as usual, but Haley comes off a bit annoying.
She’s confusing too, since she goes from one extreme to the other about whether or not she wants to hang out with her dad. Haley has no issue with eating wings and being seen with her face covered in sauce, even though she was horrified earlier in the day. Anyway, she goes to a party, Phil finds out and rushes in to rescue her. It’s all kind of ho-hum. There’s nothing really on the line here, and Phil and Haley make up in the end without having much conflict in the first place.
With the kids and Phil gone, Claire decides to go out for a night on the town with Cam and Mitchell, who are quite a bit less exciting than Claire expected. She convinces the pair to go out and do something fun so that she can enjoy her night away from the family. Things get a little out of hand.
I think I get what the writers were going for in this episode, but rather than sympathizing with Claire or even understanding her motivation, I just found her to be pretty awful. She’s harsh when talking to Mitchell: “That’s what gay is supposed to be like.” She’s just angry and unpleasant throughout the episode.
The story with Jay and Gloria is more like what I’ve come to expect from ‘Modern Family’. Manny gets a package that he’s keeping secret from his parents. Gloria has no idea, while Jay assumes that it’s porn. It’s a pretty big box for some porn DVDs, but hey, who knows?
There’s a bit where Jay gets really into a Colombian soap opera that Gloria loves while she can’t concentrate and is fixated on Manny, but the gag doesn’t work. The feeling is still understood, though. Eventually, Jay goes up to find out what’s going on.
It turns out that Manny bought some equipment online designed to help him grow taller. It might be a little silly, but there’s a really sweet moment at the end where Jay talks to Manny about working out and sets his mind at ease about being tall.
I’m hoping for a lot more in the next episode, which will be written by Steven Levitan, who created the show. Levitan also wrote one of my favorite episodes, ‘Fifteen Percent’, and directed one of the others, ‘Hawaii’.