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'Modern Family': A little 'doohickey' takes center stage

April 1, 2010 | 12:17 am

Touch it, but don’t touch it.

With the launch of the hotly anticipated iPad a few days away, in what is certainly the smartest (and funniest) product placement, the “magical and revolutionary product” -- Apple’s words not ours – took center stage.

It’s Phil’s birthday and the only thing he wants for his special day is the iPad, which goes on sale the same day. "It's like God and Steve Jobs got together to say 'We love you, Phil,'" he explains to Claire, who doesn’t understand the allure of the new “doohickey” but offers to wait in line so he didn’t have to. Those following the show know how bad Claire is at giving gifts, which is the motivation behind her wanting to brave the early morning line.

But of course she oversleeps, and while the iPad is the backdrop for the storyline, the real plot is Phil thinking everyone doesn’t care about his birthday after a day full of comedic failures – including a hilarious moment between Claire, Mitchell and a stranger while waiting in line. He can't even enjoy his favorite breakfast food: a waffle between two slices of French toast wrapped in a pancake.

While every family had their own amusing subplots -- Jay and Manny went toe-to-toe over chess and Mitchell and Cam used a baby monitor to spy on a neighbor’s marital woes – it was all about Phil and Claire. Viewers got another taste of just how great Julie Bowen is as Claire.

Last week reader bedtimeforbonzo wrote, “I think the unsung player on the show is Julie Bowen, who I had never really taken notice of and who gets better every week on this show. Bowen's facial expressions are priceless and she is quite strong at the physical comedy that being in the crazy Dunphy household requires. And while I never get tired of admiring Gloria's obvious assets, Claire is a different kind of sexy and charming.”

Bowen, who usually plays Claire as assertive and able to control her wacky clan, had an opportunity to showcase a goofier, clumsier side. Her best line, besides calling the iPad a “doohickey” was further proving she didn’t grasp social networking by instructing Alex to “Facebook, chat, tweet, buzz, bling,” in order to find a way to buy the sold out gadget.

And just when I thought only “30 Rock” could pull off product placement without being ridiculous, Phil is the only person who made me want to line up on Saturday.  How cute was it watching him blow out the "candles" atop the animated cake on the screen? Unless we are wrong, this is the first show to integrate the product as part of the storyline. Kudos ABC and Steve Jobs. Kudos.

On a final note we want to applaud the show for the touching tribute at the end for Brentwood teen Julia Siegler.

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

Photo: Claire and Mitchell get into it with a line jumper while waiting for the iPad outside the Apple store. Credit: ABC


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