Modern Family has taken a page from The Simpsons playbook (“Trilogy of Errors”, a fine later season episode. Check it out, if only for Lingo the Grammar Robot) and delivers the best episode in a few years. We meet up with the Dunphy’s while they’re going about their usual boring lives when a truck barrels through a stop sign and it awakes a spark inside each of the inhabitants of the car.
Let’s start off with the two weakest storylines, Luke and Claire. Claire has the most sitcom reaction to her near-death experience and immediately goes about her day as if real-life problems like working and schedules don’t matter (Mitchell rightfully points out that maybe they don’t matter when your boss is your dad). Luke’s epiphany is to start checking off his bucket list, which only has one laugh and it involves a Mentos jet pack spraying soda all over the wall while Claire watches in horror.
The MVP of this show and the whole series is Ty Burrell who is able to take Phil’s reactions and give them actual human emotion. Moments after the near miss Phil is a changed man, a man who is through letting the world take advantage of him. Indeed, he does set about righting some wrongs, specifically Gil Thorpe who just prior to the “accident” told Phil he stole his commission and wants to sleep with his wife. It was a joy to finally see Phil standup to his tormentor, even if this was your first Modern Family episode, both Ty and Rob Riggle’s chemistry tells you that they have been each other’s arch nemesis for years.
Separating Mitchell and Cam and pairing Cam with Phil was another stroke of genius by writer Danny Zuker. Allowing Cam to fawn over Phil’s new found manliness instead of constantly bickering with Mitchell is a refreshing change of pace. Cam can be a hard character to write for but if you get it just right, he is comedy gold. Tonight, Cam was worth a million bucks. I could watch any scene with the man coming upon confusing feelings for a family member; Cam finds Phil’s new found manliness extremely attractive. But at last, Manly Phil was not meant to last. All it takes is Phil crying over literal spilt milk to bring him back to the loveable goofball we’ve gotten to know over 6 seasons. Manly Phil, we hardly knew thee.
Let’s all agree that Jay and Gloria and their freakish child that ages 2 years between episodes can be written off because they were barely present here and they were not missed. Manny, you’re cool.