Open House of Horrors.
Fresh off its four Emmy wins (Best Comedy Series, Best Directing, Best Supporting Actor for Eric Stonestreet and Best Supporting Actress for Julie Bowen), Modern Family is back in full swing with its fourth season. Last week's episode - "The Butler's Escape" - was one of my favorites so far, but I wasn't as convinced by this modern family's attempt at Halloween.
The storylines felt a little on the weak side. I get it. It's the obligatory Halloween episode. Traditions, costumes, scary stuff. That's what it's all about. But Claire taking it upon herself to scare the bejeezus out of Phil after he declared her not so scary? A little predictable. Mitch getting in (not so much) trouble after he told Lily her mother was a princess? That was resolved pretty easily. Mitch fesses up, Cam is OK about it and Lily barely reacts... This is a 4-year-old girl who thought her mother was a princess and finds out it's not only a lie but that her fathers don't know where her birth mom actually is. I don't quite buy her being all, "Whatcha gonna do about it?" There would have been tears. Rebellion. Princess strike. Think about it. If my mom is a princess, then it makes ME a princess. Not a commoner like you-know-who. I'd have a real shot at Willy (what do you mean it's too late?). Two billion people watching as I parade in THE dress of the century. Take that away for me and you might have to pull Kate M.'s luscious hair from my dead cold hands. But nope. Lily's all good. She's not a princess in the end. No biggie. She'll be a doctor or a lawyer instead. That's just as good, isn't it? I DON'T THINK SO! And I don't believe Alexander McQueen (or Sarah Burton rather) makes hospital blouses. Just sayin'.
And why aren't the Dunphys at Cam and Mitch's party? OK, OK, I stop. Every week, my expectations of Modern Family are so high that I'm bound to be a little disappointed once in a while. I did quite like Manny joining the cool kids club and immediately getting more than he bargained for. The TV writer in me went "Ah yes, return to sameness". Manny will always go back to being himself, no matter how pretty the girls at the end of the cool kids tunnel. And now, to the characters!
Phil & Claire
Phil is my favorite character of the show and earns the best quote of this episode.
"You're the kind of person who can be twice as scary without wearing any make-up."
Claire has been shunned by the whole neighborhood after last year's Halloween's sketch that "literally scared a little saliva and a little urine out of a man." This year, no amount of candy or larger-than-life lollipop will make-up for Claire's personal sense of what is children appropriate (I mean, even I couldn't watch as her guts and blood were pouring out). But Claire doesn't take no for an answer so she goes out there and hooks herself a little girl on a cane. Because, of course, after that, her neighbors will come running for parenting advice.
Modern Family is going full force with the sensitive subjects at the moment. Last week, Cam was talking about his students' "beautiful bodies". Yet I'm pretty sure that, statistically, having both a kidnapper and a pedophile in the same family is quite unlikely. But not impossible. And they call it a "family" show! Anyway, while Claire is trying to (and failing miserably at) regain(ing) some "mother of the year" cred, Phil has an epiphany: Halloween would be the best day of the year to hold an open house. OK, Phil, because it's you, I'll let it go.
"While everyone is chasing each other around outside the box, do you know what the box is? Empty." -- Aside from being hilarious, this line is actually full of common sense. Maybe all that candy-induced blood sugar spike sent some new activity to his brain?
In the end, Claire's destroyed version of her "little house in the prairie" costume makes up for the somewhat lack of twists to their storyline. Of course I watch shows for the clothes. Just like I'd watch Ryan Gosling sneeze at a screen for 90 minutes. My TV would be happier for it. In fact, I vote for Ryan in every single show on television. With or without a shirt on. And by the way, I'd totally choose him over Will. Even if I WAS a princess. Which I am until proven otherwise.
A- Claire B+
Jay, Gloria, and Manny
I'm loving the way Jay is reacting to Gloria's pregnancy, embracing it as a new beginning, even though he's going to be an OLD dad. Age has been a big theme for him this season, and this episode is no different. He got his first ticket - the first one he couldn't get out of - and is becoming self-conscious about his looks. Yeah, having a hot wife who's thirty years younger can do that to you.
"The way I see it, it's not a ticket, it's a conversation"
Jay has been dealing with Gloria as best as he can (not even calling her "psycho" to her face, good man), even though the hormones have driven her ballistic. I'm not even sure we can even call them hormones at this stage. La chica es loca. Muy muy loca. Even mas loca than usual. Pero muy bonita, so who cares? I know Gloria often makes a point of explaining how they do things in her part of the world (I do that to), but I'm not really sure why she's telling Manny: "I am Colombian. We get excited. My country is covered in coffee." Isn't Manny Colombian as well? Doesn't he know all that already? But I did very much like his comeback: "Just like the Starbucks girl when she got your order wrong?". But all said and done, Gloria wins best costume hands-down. Hot alien mama.
B+ Gloria B Manny A-
Mitch & Cam
Mitch is trying to hide the fact that he told Lily that her mom is a princess, but instead of asking her to go play or do anything age-appropriate, he sends her off to "mingle, mingle"... at an adult's party. Love it. I also have to hand it to Cam for making even the most basic situation incredibly awkward and creepy. Cam has just lost a lot of weight - 32.4 pounds, but who's counting? - and the boys are celebrating with a Halloween party. Cam planned to dress as a matador but the costumes have been mixed up, and he's left looking like a bull, literally. Not the best way to show his new figure. So what's a newly skinny Cam to do? Well flash his guests by unzipping the bull every chance he gets, that's what. This ties in so perfectly with last week's "beautiful bodies" (see above). Cam is going over to the dark side of creepy and I'm loving every minute of it.
B- Cam C+
"Open House of Horrors"
- Luke as the devil and Manny's bad conscience.
- The guest at the party wearing a Baby Bjorn with a bag of sugar in it.
- Lily, after Mitch tells her she has to wear last year's tiara: "Are we poor?" Yes honey, if you can't afford a new tiara, you ARE poor. My financial advisor told me that. True story.
- Although Gloria's was the best, the costumes were pretty fun. Any thoughts on runner-up?
Do you know what I like most about Modern Family? It makes me happy; very, very happy. You can’t put a grade on happiness, but I like that you try. Even when there aren’t laugh until you cry moments in every episode, Claire’s obsession with scaring someone made me happy, along with Jay’s reassuring Gloria she is a good mama. Since I love the show so much, I save all of the episodes now instead of buying them on DVD at the end of the season. My DISH coworker reminded me of the thousands of hours of HD recording time on my Hopper DVR so I figured it was stupid to pay that money each year. Now, I get more out of my TV service and my wife is happy she has more purse money; LOL!