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'Modern Family': Giving more than '15%'

January 21, 2010 |  8:00 am

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Fifteen percent -- give or take. That's how much people can change, if they want to, according to Mitchell in Wednesday night’s “Modern Family.” Thankfully the show was 100% on.

As of late I’d become a bit of a broken record complaining about a handful of subpar episodes, and after taking a friend's suggestion of doing a weekend marathon I was reminded of how hilarious the show is. The writing, the characters, the jokes that come back to your mind at the best moments days after – everything that makes the show pop and cements itself as one of the finest prime-time comedies on TV right now.

Every integral element of the show was in true form, with plenty of repeat laughs (bonus points if you got the Sanka joke).

Numerous critics – including myself –grimaced at the exclusion of the family-less storylines that have plagued recent episodes. While the entire family wasn’t weaved together, there was some blending that played nicely. For example, Mitchell schooling Jay on the fine art of gaydar, which of course came back to bite him, Jay and Cameron in the butt later.

Chazz Palminteri (“A Bronx Tale”) was one of the best guest spots the show had. He wasn’t over the top, and he didn’t overshadow the cast, which has happened when bigger stars have dropped in – and it’s usually never been a good thing.

Palminteri was superb as Shorty, one of Jay’s old friends who may or may not be gay – Mitchell’s gaydar was after all pinging like he was in a bathhouse (sneaky joke that not everyone probably got). This opened up room to (once again) explore Jay and Mitchell’s relationship, post his coming out, and carrying over the 15% change theme. It’s not too hard to imagine Jay not being that accepting of Mitchell when he first heard he was gay, and it seems the writers want to continue to weave that into the storyline – yet another realistic, down-to-earth quality about the show. Jay is never abrasive about sexuality – and while he may have made the cardinal mistake of introducing Cameron as a “friend of my son’s” … trust me, it could be a lot worse. Try being introduced as the “roommate.” Ouch.

This idea of changing 15% intertwined among all the families: Phil trying to change Claire’s technological illiteracy, Gloria trying to change Manny’s unlikely – and very awkward – adult blind date (Of course he would meet up on the Internet. Of course he would be wearing aftershave. More bonus points if you picked up on the “Twilight” dig.) Jay even went out on a limb and tried to change himself by becoming more accepting -- progress he’s been making all season

Here’s to hoping the show never goes down to 15%, even if they never rid themselves of the hokey "Wonder Years"-esque endings.

This post wouldn’t be complete without my favorite punchlines from the episode:

-- Mitchell asking the car's voice recognition software to give him directions to Hell and the car responding with "Mexican food."

-- Gloria: "I come from a neighborhood with a lot of prostitutes."

-- Mitchell, on Cameron setting on fire a bouquet of flowers on accident: "Look at that: two things flaming at once."

--Phil : "Imagine our home theater system is a human body. So then the receiver is the brain. The TV is the face. Claire: I know what part you are."

-- Jay, on his friends: "Look at these guys, they look like they came out of the 1880s. You see Hugo over there, after lunch he ordered a Sanka."

--Phil: "Just to prove how wrong you are, I’m going to teach our dumbest kid how to use it in 20 minutes or less."

--Jay, to Mitchell on Shorty: "I’m here to let you know your gaydar is broken."

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

Photo: Chazz Palminteri guests as one of Jay's closest friends. Credit: ABC

Related:

'Modern Family': Some are real, right? Like Anne Frank's?

Complete coverage of 'Modern Family' on Show Tracker

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