‘Modern Family’ 2.01 Recap: Moms, Cars and Princess Castles

Boy is it great to have ‘Modern Family’ back on the air – even if I did sit and suffer through the last five minutes of ‘Better With You,’ a show that manages to sap all the enjoyment that I normally get from Kurt Fuller.

The first episode of the second season of ‘Modern Family’ absolutely flies by. I’ll gladly take that as an indicator of fun had, as the idiom hypothesizes. Each commercial break seems too early, and the end comes far too quickly.

‘The Old Wagon’ is an episode that’s all about letting go. Claire forces Phil to let go of the old car that’s been sitting in the garage, which Claire ends up having trouble letting go of herself. Gloria has to deal with letting go of Manny, and Mitch has to let go of his past accomplishments and assessments of his own skill.

It starts off in true ‘Modern Family’ style – with Phil accidentally dumping the contents of a few shelves on his head. It’s an easy laugh, but Ty Burell has a way with clumsy comedy that makes it work.

Aside from the quick gag with Phil, the first third of the show is more exposition than laughs. It reestablishes the characters for fans and makes a nice introduction for first time viewers.

There are a few great gags in the episode, and the bonding between Cameron and Jay is as funny as it is heartening. It also leads to the best line in the show, when Jay recalls his experience building a bookshelf with the mechanically inept Mitchell. “That was my Vietnam… and I was in Vietnam.”

One of the nicest parts of the episode is the callbacks to the first season, especially when a bird flies into the princess castle that Mitch has accidentally locked himself into. This sort of thing is great in small doses – a reward for watching the show since the beginning.

Toward the end there’s an absolutely brilliant scene in which the Dunphy family is sitting in a station wagon and all hell breaks loose at once. Luke gets sick, Haley sees a spider and accidentally steps on Phil’s seatbelt, and Claire’s seat breaks, which causes her to spill her drink all over Alex. It’s wonderfully timed and choreographed, making for a few great laughs.

All in all, ‘The Old Wagon’ is a great return and an episode that really builds on the characters, even if it doesn’t fully take advantage of all the comedic potential.

Oh, and is it just me or does Ed O’Neil look like he’s lost some weight?

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