Phil is selling the house next door and he and Claire are excited by the prospect of having wonderful new neighbors, but that quickly turns into panic when a loud and obnoxious couple come to look at the house. Jay forbids Manny to see his new girlfriend when he realizes she’s the granddaughter of his biggest business rival, leading to a clash of the closet titans. Elsewhere, Mitch and Cam are determined to switch Lily out of Mrs. Plank’s class since she is known to rule with an iron fist – not to mention she scares them too.
The Dunphys move into a cramped hotel room while their house is getting treated for mold and Phil sees this as an opportunity to spend some quality time together but Claire and the kids are less than enthused. Gloria becomes over protective when Manny starts dating an older, popular girl, and Cameron is under a lot of pressure to maintain his team’s winning streak but when he realizes Mitchell may be a jinx.
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Phil is putting together Mitch and Cam’s wedding video for a special family screening, but when the footage reveals that he is responsible for a horrible cold that has plagued the family, he must do some creative editing. Jay and Gloria have different ways of helping Manny cope with the stresses of high school football, while coach Cam struggles between whether or not to bench him. And, Mitchell gets strangely competitive with Lily’s new friend, Sydney, who is clearly a genius.
It’s Jay and Gloria’s anniversary and they can’t seem to get on the same page on what kind of gift to give – sentimental or expensive? And, the Dunphys head to Caltech for Alex’s college tour and while Claire is busy convincing her to choose this school and stay close to home, Phil, Luke and Haley branch off to participate in a psyche experiment. Mitch and Cam are taking a new family portrait with Lily to replace the old one above their mantel, but Lily gives some serious face.
Mitch and Cam are back home from their honeymoon and Mitch is adjusting much quicker than Cameron. Claire is furious with Phil but he has no idea why
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In “Australia”, the entire family tags along as Phil (Ty Burrell) fulfills his mom’s wish for him to return to his roots and visit the country where he was conceived, Australia.
Phil wants to reconnect with his family’s early heritage, in the wake of his mother’s death (at the end of season four). However, since this is a television sitcom and the cast could use a much needed break from the hectic world of show business, Burrell’s co-stars ? sorry, Phil’s close family ? tag along for some stiff cultural stereotyping and weak character-driven moments this week.
Cam and Mitch break off from the rest of the family to go visit their old friend Ferguson. However, they’re not too thrilled about it, as they reveal he’s actually kind of annoying. At lunch they find that he’s just as annoying but happens to be famous in Australia as a talk show host.
They take advantage of Ferguson’s celebrity status to see the best of the city, including behind the scenes at a zoo, VIP status at a club, and limo rides.
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At the Dunphy household, Haley wants to quit her job because it’s boring (welcome to life, child), Alex is continuing her nerd-dom and Luke is continuing his mad scientist lifestyle. Claire doesn’t agree with her children’s choices while Phil finds nothing is wrong. All will have to wait because Claire has to go in for an angiogram ? a precautionary test.
At the hospital, Claire and Phil meet The Future Dunphys ? three adults whose personalities mirror the little Dunphys. We find out BizarroHaley has been married four times and is unhappy in another marriage, BizarroAlex is a cat lady, and BizarroLuke is a man-child that’s probably on a first name basis with the police.
Phil knows the error of his ways while Claire sees the BizarroDunphys hate their mother and knows the error of her ways. Both, separately, call their children who interpret the schizo behavior as Claire being really sick. They arrive at the hospital to see their parents okay and realize it’s just another overreaction ? the children freak out, leading to BizarroBizarroDunphys (younger version of the Dunphys) to have judgy-face.
Jay takes Manny to interview at a private school. Unresolved issues surface as Jay relives his history with snotty private school boys with small noses ? he worked for the privileged and wasn’t treated well. Jay realize, as the tour of the school continues, he wanted to BE the snotty boys with the small noses. His enthusiasm leads Manny to bomb his interview (doing the moonwalk at any interview is frowned upon). Manny apologizes to Jay since he knows it was important to the old man. Jay reciprocates ? if Manny feels this was the first time Jay was proud of him, then the old man is the one to say sorry?ahhhh?.
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There’s no good reason that “Best Men” the 86th episode of Modern Family, is the first full half-hour of the series I’ve ever seen. I can recall the buzz arounds its first season, the favorable comparisons to Arrested Development-but I had limited time for new shows then, and 2009 was the fall of Community’s premi?re and Parks And Recreation’s blossoming, so the faux-documentary about the new normal (hey, that’d be a good name for a show) for the American family wasn’t a high priority. And then the thing started gobbling up awards and Nielsen victories at the same time critical consensus suggested it peaked early, so I figured I just catch up with the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker-Delgados in syndication.
That seemed like the best way to digest the other megahit sitcoms of the era: Flattening the highs and lows of How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory into something you can watch at the gym or over a laundry basket makes for a great way to get the feel of the biggest TV comedies of the past five years.
Modern Family won’t hit syndication numbers until the end of its fourth season, but if “Best Men” is any indication, it’s already arrived at a point where the barriers to entry are lowered and the casual viewer can jump in on any given Wednesday night. (Or weekday afternoon, come fall 2013.) It’s the type of episode that’s difficult not to damn with faint praise; adjectives on the “competent” spectrum leap most immediately to mind: “Slickly directed” “capably acted” “adequately written.” It neither justifies an ongoing ignorance of the show nor does it suggest that I’ve been missing anything.
There are some big laughs-that Ty Burrell sure has a long career of bumbling and stumbling ahead of him, huh?-and heartwarming moments-it’s neat how the wedding vows from Elizabeth Banks’ character end up reflecting positively on Cam and Mitchell’s relationship-but otherwise it’s just sort of there.
Claire’s college reunion is coming up, and she doesn’t really want Phil to come with her. Luckily for her, Phil has a bowling tournament with Jay and his friends and can’t make it. At the reunion, Claire reconnects with an old classmate she used call ‘Tater’ (guest star David Faustino) and an old professor she used to date.
When Phil gets kicked off the bowling team, he decides to surprise Claire at the reunion. They end up going for drinks at her professor’s house, and a small part of Claire can’t help wondering how her life would have turned out if she had stayed with Professor Cooke (guest star Maxwell Caulfield). But when his depressed, unbalanced wife shows up, Claire remembers how lucky she is to have Phil.
Meanwhile, Mitch and Cameron are getting ready to host an Oscar party. Cameron wants to take pictures of Lily dressed up as different Hollywood starlets, but six hours into the photo shoot, she gets cranky, and they decide to replace her with baby Joe. Lily ‘helps’ by gluing Joe’s headdress to his hair, and Cam and Mitch have to find a way to fix it before Gloria finds out. Their Oscar party goes well—a little too well, maybe, because they wake up and discover that they somehow promised Dylan, Haley’s delinquent on-and-off boyfriend, that he could move in with them.
The series Modern Family reminds me most of in this regard is The Cosby Show. Like that earlier show, Modern Family had a surprisingly big breakout season, for which it won the Emmy and critical plaudits for being groundbreaking in depicting a minority group as just another part of the big, American tapestry. After that, it declined slightly and went through some bumpy times, before settling onto a rough plateau where it more or less sat for several seasons. Modern Family very rarely produces A or A- episodes anymore, but this season in particular, it rarely produces episodes that fall beneath a B- either. It knows exactly what it does well, and it performs at that level almost ruthlessly. Just as Cosby had its go-to jokes-and always left a little time for Bill to riff-so, too, does Modern Family have its stable of gags-and it always leaves time for Ty Burrell to perform some pratfalls. Modern Family gets shit all the time for playing it safe, but I think it’s important to note just how hard it is to create a show that plays it safe but is still mostly satisfying. Hell, this show had a lot of trouble with just that in its third season, but its fourth season has been an improvement in most ways.
It’s a special Valentine’s Day episode of ?Modern Family,’ and everyone’s trying to have a good time, but nothing is quite working out as planned – as usual.
“Heart Broken” may not be a consistent laugh riot, but it’s one of the best episodes of the season, owing largely to the decision to treat the episode as a trio of short vignettes – rather than jumping back and forth between stories, we watch each family’s story from beginning to end before moving on to the next. The running theme this week seems to be the typical ?Modern Family’ fare: everyone has plans for their ideal good time, but nothing goes accordingly.
First up are Claire and Phil, who are back to their traditional romantic evening of sexy role-playing, but Claire faints at the bar, the result of a minor hereditary heart condition. Eager to complete her Valentine’s “activities” with Phil, Claire keeps insisting that she’s fine, but she’s really just trying to hide her vulnerability.
Claire is and always has been the strongest member of her family unit, capable of dealing with high-pressure situations and keeping her chin up in difficult situations, but that strength (and stubborn refusal to acknowledge weakness) comes with a price. If she keeps on this way, her minor heart condition could become a major one. The kids take a backseat, allowing Claire and Phil to get in a few good laughs, mostly at the expense of Phil and his bloody nose.