You get two weeks of ‘Modern Family’ in one recap this week. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the show continues to be great, but these episodes are not without their faults.
Slow Down Your Neighbors
I generally like ‘Modern Family’ because it manages to combine both realism and off-the-wall humor into one show without ever missing a beat. ‘Slow Down Your Neighbors’ doesn’t do that. One of the storylines in the episode veers off into very cartoony territory. This would normally bother me quite a bit, but the others make up for it.
The episode has a whole angle where Claire is trying to slow down a speeder named Laura who’s been blitzing through the neighborhood. Claire shouts through a megaphone, puts up signs, and starts acting pretty insane. Phil meanwhile is trying to sell the house of that very same speeder. Laura is played by Jami Gertz, who is so over-the-top business woman in her character that it takes me right out of the episode. She doesn’t fit the show. It’s as if a character from another series jumped on to the set.
Cameron and Mitchell are dealing with a friend they’ve made (James Marsden) who turns out to be homeless and crazy. It’s a funny little segment that doesn’t really do much for the characters, but results in a fight inside Lily’s dollhouse.
The episode is a bit of a letdown until Luke steps in. He’s never been a major player in ‘Modern Family’, but I’m hoping that’s going to change. There’s a lot of potential there.
Gloria doesn’t trust Jay to teach her how to ride a bike, so she goes to Phil, who isn’t available. Luke convinces Gloria to let him try. That’s when things get really fun. It’s not just what he does – though whipping out the Super Soaker is plenty of fun – but how he does it. Luke has this weird sort of confidence about the whole thing that’s a blast to watch. Luke also has some of the greatest lines in the episode, since he’s adopted a bit of an anti-Manny persona. Manny acts like a refined adult while Luke seems to be a grizzled veteran.
Our Children, Ourselves
There are a few different stories going on in ‘Our Children, Ourselves’. To me, the most interesting is that of Claire and Phil questioning their own intelligence. They wonder whether they’re holding their children back by not being smarter themselves.
Phil and Claire wind up running into the parents of Sanjay Patel, Alex’s intellectual rival, at a movie theater and are embarrassed into seeing a foreign film instead of their originally intended choice, ‘Croctopus 3D’. Maybe it’s because of their love of crappy movies, but I find myself really identifying with the pair. It’s hard not to feel guilty about those guilty pleasures.
Gloria and Jay have dinner with a couple that they met on vacation, who Jay describes as “the boring guy and the loudmouth.” It’s funny enough, but we never really get resolution on it. It feels like there’s no payoff at the end.
The final segment starts very strong and ends very weak. Mitchell runs into an old girlfriend (Mary Lynn Rajskub) who acts very strangely towards him. Mitchell initially thinks it’s because they hooked up at a high-school reunion, but then sees her with what appears to be a red-headed boy. He jumps to the conclusion that this must be his son.
It turns out Mitchell’s ex is married to a little person. Of course, Mitchell doesn’t find that out until he’s already bought a baseball glove for what he thinks is his child. It doesn’t go over too well and we’re left in an awkward scene with no way out – so it just ends.
The episode isn’t bad by any means, but feels a little easy all the way through. It’s not as cartoony as ‘Slow Down Your Neighbors’, but it also doesn’t quite have its feet on the ground.