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'Modern Family': Too much nice, not enough fire

November 5, 2009 | 12:59 pm

Mooood

En garde!

Who knew a little fencing would bring this family closer, but then again what better way to show family than cheering on one of the kids wielding a sharp object. Or is that just my family I'm thinking of?

While Manny celebrated his new-found success as a junior Zorro (including "Who da Manny" T-shirts created by Jay. Yes, seriously), Jay got to show his pride, all the while making his kids feel completely worthless.

Which, oh course, Phil translates as his kids being failures. And let's be honest, the Dunphy kids are pretty much predisposed to being cute lil' idiots ... but that's why I love them. Kids are their cutest when they are a little -- as my mom would say -- "touched." And watching Luke struggle to throw a baseball or Haley thinking she could charge her phone battery by rubbing it frantically in her hair is hilarious, yes. Am I concerned about them graduating high school in the future? You bet.

Can I just say Phil easily wins father of the year award. He reminds me so much of my father: they both walk into the room happy. It's infectious and they mean well, but oftentimes some of the advice doesn't match up. I think of the time my father told me to outsmart bullies. Sure, it "worked" in the long run, but I spent the whole year being the fat boy who could read. So I wasn't surprised that Phil went out of reach to make Luke feel like a winner by bringing him in to help sell a house. Yeeeeeeh, OK,  Phil. Geez, this guy is so dimwitted I love it. But then again, with personal mottoes like  "When I believe, you believe. I can sell a fur coat to an Eskimo," Phil will always be successful in life.


It was the relationship between Claire and Mitchell, however,  that got the most play in the episode, and provided the most laughs. Way back when, the two of them had a little ice-skating duo called Fire and Nice. It was very fabulous. Think Beyonce in "Single Ladies" on ice skates. OMG, amazing right!? Mitchell wore this firetruck red little number and Claire had lots of ruffles. (Or as Mitchell said after describing the outfit, “I actually tried to make it sound less gay.”)

Fireandnice The two shared a rare (even for this show) tender moment when Mitchell told her of his disappointment at her quitting the act. He liked the team aspect they shared, and because their parents were going through a divorce it felt as if they were growing apart. Yes, my heartstrings were pulled all the way down to my tummy, but I think it's time to get a little real with this "modern" family.

Now that the show has a nice handful of episodes completed, it can start getting bolder. I mean, families aren't all happy unicorns, butterflies and rainbows. And while they don't have to be at each others' ends every week or over the top like another ABC show about family (I'll let you guess), there is nothing funnier than a little tension in the air. Explore the relationship of Mitchell and Claire a little more. He hinted at some resentment there and I totally predicted they would wind up dancing it out in the park -- she did, after all, race her husband to prove she's the fastest.

And while Jay thoroughly continues to impress me with his open-mindedness, his little syrupy sweet monologue at the end was way too cheesy. Come on, give me a break.

Showrunners listen closely, kick it up a notch. As Jay said in the end, "guilt fades," so lose yours and give the show a kick in its firetruck red unitard!

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy (Follow me on Twitter @Gerrick Kennedy)  

Related:

Elizabeth Banks, Edward Norton to liven up 'Modern Family'


'Modern Family': Back to school in October?


Photos: Top, The clan watches -- and videotapes -- Mitchell and Claire's parking lot "Swan Lake" on "Modern Family." Credit: ABC. Bottom, Mitchell and Claire lift it out. Credit: ABC.

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