Haven’t written about “Modern Family” in a while, but the show also hasn’t had an episode as strong as last night’s in a while. A quick review coming up just as soon as it looks like the paint can stopped moving…
“Someone to Watch Over Lily” was an ambitious episode, but never one that felt overstuffed. It not only featured every member of the ensemble, but gave them a story of some kind (even if some of the “stories” were basically brief running gags, like Gloria’s excitement at the idea of Cam and Mitchell dying so she could raise Lily). Where some weeks, the various stories exist independently from each other – “Here’s an amusing six minutes in the lives of Jay and Gloria, here’s an amusing six minutes of what Jay and Cam are up to, here’s Phil being a doofus for seven minutes, and here’s a voiceover to wrap it up ” – everything here was strongly tied to the idea of Mitch and Cam trying to determine a guardian for Lily. (Even the Alex/Haley story, which initially seemed independent, was there to undercut Claire’s indignant response at being passed over for her dad and Gloria.) Several of the stories dealt with ongoing character issues – in particular, Claire’s fears about both Luke and Phil was an understandable response to just how dumb and/or weird they’ve been portrayed at times this season for the sake of a joke, and Luke’s final scene helped to position Luke as someone who’s easily distracted but far from stupid.
Structurally and thematically, this was easily the best the show’s been since “Manny Get Your Gun.” And when an episode is well-built, I tend to laugh at it a lot more than the ones that are a looser collection of gags about these three families. And most of this week’s jokes were fantastic.
Sofia Vergara’s been killing it all season (even episodes I’ve otherwise not liked very much have been worth it just for her), and here she made the most of Gloria’s joy (“ALL MINE!”). While I suspected Jay would drop Cam, it was still a good gag, and Mitchell’s response at the house about how long they’d need to discuss it was even better. And all the examples of Luke and/or Phil’s problem behavior was hilarious, especially the cutaway(*) to Luke watching the paint can, followed by the camera pulling out to reveal that Phil was doing the same thing. (Loved Ty Burrell’s weird rhythmic sway.)
(*) “Modern Family” hasn’t shied away from cutaway jokes in the past, but this episode featured so many that at times it felt like “30 Rock” – and not in a bad way.
I’ll probably continue my off-and-on writing of the show, but damn, that was good.
What did everybody else think?
By Alan Sepinwall –