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'Modern Family' recap: No Manny is an island

November 17, 2010 | 10:20 pm

Manny Oh, Manny.  Not a boy, net yet a man.  

Tonight's "Modern Family" began with a few sober words from the chubby-cheeked old soul. "I was almost too depressed to come today.  I realized I let my childhood slip away," said the birthday boy. They were hardly words of celebration, but Manny could take cold comfort knowing that he wasn't the only one in a funk. 

Gloria, for one, is fuming after a little kerfuffle with Jay. Back at home, she was unable find her car keys and tears the house apart on a desperate search.  When the keys don't turn up, she gets irrationally angry. Eventually, Gloria reaches the third and final stage of lost-key mania--paranoia--and accuses Jay of meddling. He smugly denies any involvement, only it turns out Jay does actually have the keys. Unwilling to admit he's in the wrong, Jay sneaks the keys back into Gloria’s purse.  I believe the technical term for this maneuver is “gaslighting,” and Gloria isn't amused by her husband's meddling.  Meanwhile, Jay is peeved because, even though Gloria was technically right about the keys, it was a fluke. You know what they say about a broken clock being right twice a day?

Manny is in no mood to celebrate, either. Jay casually tells Manny he was “born 16,” setting off an existential crisis in the tween.  Manny decides to see what he’s been missing, and sets about doing childish things like mixing different sodas together (an enjoyable pastime for all ages, if you ask me) and making prank phone calls (still fun, but harder to do nowadays).  He doesn't enjoy either pursuit.  Manny pulls a Benjamin Braddock and decides to drift around in the pool for a while, contemplating his lost youth.  Only, Manny's wearing a mini Al Capone zoot suit while perched on an inflatable island raft.  Gloria is not amused by Manny's dilatory behavior, and she takes matters into her own hands, shooting a hole in Manny’s float with his BB gun. It was crazy but, hey, it also worked (note to future self: buy a BB gun). 

The Dunphys, meanwhile, are literally in a race with each other to get to the restaurant first, but this doesn’t actually mean they’ll get there on time.  Phil is delayed when he runs into a curb—and by a crying jag initiated when Haley and Alex confess they don’t want to return to “Family Camp.”  Over in the Claire-mobile, there’s a heart-to-heart conversation about the dangers of having two parents.  Phil might be the creative force behind “Italian Accent Night,” but someone’s got to make sure that Luke puts his shoes on before he walks out the door.  Needless to say, that person isn’t going to be Phil. 

Cameron and Mitchell also arrive late to the birthday celebration. At the mall to pick up a gift for Manny, Cameron tries to bring two geriatric lovers together, only to find out that they are actually adulterers (Mitchell calls them "the most adult adulterers ever").  Cameron is supposed to be the spontaneous one, but it's actually Mitchell who has a surprise in the works: He's organized a flash mob performance to "Free Your Mind." Cameron should be thrilled, but is appalled that Mitchell would dance without him.  It figures:  Just when Mitchell tries to let his (figurative) hair down, it backfires. 

Memorable lines: 

“If you ain’t white, you ain’t right.”  --Phil’s inadvertently racist T-shirt

“This year I predict total white domination.”  --Phil’s inadvertently racist forecast for family camp

“I’m serious as a heart attack.” --Cameron

“You know that kid Liam who wears pajama pants to school and pays for things with a hundred dollar bill? Two fun parents.  Mark my words.” --Claire

“You were never much of a kid and that’s a good thing because I never liked kids.”  --Jay

“I’m looking for Butts.  Yes, I’m trying to get a hold of Butts...Very funny, I don’t have time for this foolishness.”  --Manny

“You’re this close to doing all the sleeping in a tent in the backyard.”  --Gloria

 “You cheated on me with choreography!”  --Cameron

 “You put that potato chip in my sandwich, that was a crunchy surprise.”  --Luke

“You’d think growing up in a place full of death squads and drunken uncles she’d uh learned to move a little bit faster.” --Jay

“I’m sorry I shoot the island.”  --Gloria

 --Meredith Blake

twitter.com/MeredithBlake

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Photo: Manny (Rico Rodriguez) tries to get in touch with his inner child.

Credit:  ABC/Danny Feld

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