'Modern Family' recap: Celebrating Halloween with a box of baby Jesus
Ah, the Halloween episode. Other than the Christmas special, is there a television tradition more beloved than this one? Americans certainly love to wear attention-getting outfits and eat lots of candy, but when it comes to the Halloween spirit, we're no match for our fictional TV counterparts. Especially on a sitcom such as "Modern Family," set in an anonymous suburb, Halloween is the one episode in which the costume and production designers get to go hog wild. Consider Wednesday night's episode of "Modern Family," which, without all the cobwebs and ghoulish face paint, would have been an unexceptional installment of the show.
Phil is in a romantic panic after learning about the breakup of Jerry and Judy, the Dunphys' neighbors. Jerry is wallowing in misery over the split, and tells Phil: "Now I can’t even remember what her laugh sounds like." Phil tells Jerry that Claire can imitate her laugh, but -- curiously enough -- this doesn't do much to lighten Jerry's mood. Phil is spooked (pun intended) by the news, and spends most of Halloween in a state of nervous preoccupation: Could his marriage be doomed, too? As so often happens on "Modern Family," the episode ends on a sweet note. "You're stuck with me," Claire finally reassures Phil.
Jay and Gloria have a rather different kind of argument. After she drags it out of him, Jay acknowledges the fact that Gloria can, on occasion, butcher an English idiom or two. And that her lovely accent can sometimes render her speech indecipherable -- just once in a while, mind you. Like when she asked Jay's secretary to order a box of "baby cheeses," but it sounded like "baby Jesus." Her accent is not exactly a problem for Jay (his wife, after all, is the one person who might be able to find a use for a box full of miniature saviors), but nevertheless, she takes the criticisms to heart. Out of protest, Gloria insists on speaking with an absurd -- and extremely amusing -- American accent at the Dunphy Halloween party. There's something about watching someone do an American accent, no matter how unconvincing it might be, that makes me cringe a little. (Do I really chew on my words like that?) Jay
Mitchell learns the hard way that there is such a thing as being too into Halloween -- even on TV. Desperate to impress at his new job, he shows up at the office in a Spiderman costume. Trouble is, the only other employees who came dressed up are, to put it politely, not Mitchell's most esteemed colleagues. He pulls on a regular suit over his costume, which to me sounds like something a high school wrestler might do in a desperate bid to make weight. Mitchell tries to sneak away to remove his red and blue under-armor, but his attempts are thwarted in increasingly humiliating fashion. It was perhaps inevitable that Mitchell, would wind up climbing a wall somewhere in his Spidey suit. Slapstick aside, Mitchell's downward spiral is set off by his very real anxiety. Cameron may be the needier partner, but clearly Mitchell's got some issues of his own, not the least of which are his "toilety" smelling clothes.
Lines of the night:
"I thought he was a dog detective" -- Jay's thoughts on Snoop Dogg
"Yesterday’s lazy cures today’s crazy." -- Cameron
"Tell me it was booze, cheating, physical abuse, no problem. I’m a monogamous social drinker and Claire only sleep-hits me." -- Phil
"Claire and I are going as Corpse bride and groom... as if there’s any other kind. I’m saying that because marriage kills you." -- Phil
"That’s coconuts, you’re super delightful." -- Phil, trying but failing to cheer Jerry up
"Who wants to live in a world where dogs eat each other? 'Doggy dog world' is a beautiful world full of little puppies." -- Gloria, who has a point
"Are you trying to get candy or Japanese businessmen?" -- Claire
"The townspeople started screaming. And that’s when I wet my pants. I wet my pants! -- Cameron
"This whole thing is a colossal fog cue." -- Jay (if you don't get it, say it a few times fast)
A few of Gloria's most memorable malapropisms:
"Don't give me an old tomato."
"Blessings in the skies."
"Carpool tunnel syndrome."
-- Meredith Blake
Photo: Gloria (Sofia Vergara) hams it up on Halloween. Credit: Danny Feld / ABC