'Modern Family': One big splashy 'moon landing'
It’s very easy to ruin an episode of “Modern Family,” for yourself.
Too much laughter and you miss one of the many sneaky punch lines. No DVR and you can’t replay your favorite Phil, Cameron or Jay moment, over and over. The pause button came in handy, as most of last night’s episode was spent at a standstill as I caught my breath.
Last week, I said I hoped the show never went down to 15%, even if they never rid themselves of the hokey "Wonder Years"-esque endings. They didn’t fail to deliver a pitch-perfect episode, giving above and beyond 100%.
There was a bit more family interaction this week than in past episodes, something I'd been craving.
Jay and Cameron got some quality time together at the gym – including a rather awkward locker room invasion of space – Mitchell helped Gloria with a legal matter involving her wretched driving, and Claire caught up with an old friend, guest star Minnie Driver, as we reported a while back.
Driver was a wise casting decision in an often-questionable roster of guest spots that has plagued the freshman comedy. Her brand of dry wit worked perfectly in the role of Valerie, a former colleague and friend of Claire’s who chose climbing the corporate ladder over family life. Despite how Claire might have felt, she had nothing to be jealous of, right? After all, she has Phil and three kids -- there's nothing wrong with that (and, of course, she realized it during her hokey end-of-episode montage, which I've grown accustomed to). Valerie jet sets all over the world leaving lovers in different locales, some she can’t even name. And although she got the coveted promotion on the 23rd floor (well actually the 24th) she doesn't have Phil, a prize all within himself.
What was rare about Driver’s appearance on the show was that every guest star so far has eclipsed the episode they were in – either with their sheer star power or from the writer’s blatant attempt to write them into as much of the plot as possible.
Her stint was only the sprinkles on top of one of the perfectly iced cupcakes that Manny easily devoured before being pulled away by his stepbrother – similar to the giant one that ended up on top of Gloria’s car (she’s really that bad a driver). The episode didn’t need her to thrive the way it did. The Mitchell/Gloria/Manny subplot was a riot, and I appreciated how it had just enough Manny, and it let him be a kid, rather than his typical shtick of being a, well, little "manny." It was also great to see interaction between Manny and Mitchell. You forget they are stepbrothers -- given the age difference and scarcity of their scenes together, it's easy to mistake them for an uncle-nephew pairing. Kudos!
But of course most of the laughs came with Jay and Cameron.
All season, we’ve been teased with Jay’s discomfort with all things gay. Last episode, we thought his best friend might have been gay (he so was, in my opinion), but Jay never really had to deal with anything. That is until his naked behind got all touchy-feely with Cameron's. But according to Jay, "They didn’t press; it was glancing. Stop talking about it."Because so much of “Moon Landing” was sheer brilliance, here is an extended take on my favorite lines, exchanges and zingers:
Phil [on Claire being a stay-at-home mom]: "That is very offensive to women, your mom works very hard. Just now she works for us."
Cameron: "Mitchell is an amazing lawyer. My dream for him is that one day he’ll be on the Supreme Court."
Mitchell: "Why, Cam?"Cameron: "So at parties I can tell everyone my partner is one of the Supremes."
Jay: "Part of going to the gym is the locker-room atmosphere, and if I'm there with a gay guy, it's just not going to be the same. I mean for me it’s a locker room, for him it’s a showroom."
Mitchell [on driving]: "I used to never let people in, and now I do. Just now getting that metaphor."
Manny [on Gloria's driving]: "It all happened so fast, just like they say" ... "Everybody looks parked when you’re going 100 mph."
Gloria: "You're like everyone else. You blame the Latino driver. Where I come from, they always blame the Latino driver."
Phil: "Can I say something?"
Claire [admiring Phil's new mustache] "No. No you can't, Mario. There is nothing left to say."
Phil: "Five months later we were -- four months away from having this little bundle of joy."
Alex: "What's jaegermeister?"
Phil: "Well, you know how in a fairy tale there's always a potion that makes the princess fall asleep, and then the guys start kissing her? Well, this is like that except you don't wake up in a castle. You wake up in a frat house with a bad reputation."
Claire: "Phil, what are you doing?"
Phil [from the port-a-potty]: "Just concluding a little business. Very successfully, I might add."
Cameron: "This can't be your first moon landing." (Jay and Cameron's bare behinds touched.)
Jay: "You've got a name for it?"
Cameron: "It's very common. You got off easy. At least it didn't happen after a shower. We call that a splash down."
Cameron: "When you're gay you just walk around giving butt bumps to everybody. It's like a high five. It's a low two."
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy (Follow me on Twitter @GerrickKennedy)
Photos: (Top) Jay and Cameron go in for a landing, (middle) Minnie Driver guests as Valerie, (bottom) Jay learns about the "splash landing." Credit: ABC