‘Modern Family’ Recap: Mother Tucker

S02E09 I’m disappointed in you Modern Family. You’ve shown me how incredible you can be this season (especially last week), but then you turn out something like this and it hurts me a little. It’s not that you weren’t funny (because you had plenty of funny moments and lines) but it just felt a little empty after all was said and done. Then again, you can’t always do your trademark episodes week after week without them becoming stale (although, Community has been on a hell of a run recently) so maybe you needed a light week.

So what was off this week? For starters, there was little crossovers between the families. Keeping the stories separate, for whatever reason, makes the stories seem lighter and even just having the barest of crossover with any of them makes the episode seem more “together.” And while it was funny to see Claire play around with Mitchell’s boundaries, its like giving me a sip of water when I’ve been wandering around a desert for a week. Don’t tease me Modern Family! It’s a weird fact, but more crossovers make better episodes. And what stories we did have were weak in and of themselves. Cam’s mother is too touchy? Oh dear. Jay is feeling sick and Gloria blows it off? Oh boy.

But the star of the week who single handily managed to salvage the entire episode was Ty Burrell. The Dunphee storyline was ok, but it did give us a lot of Phil and that is always a good thing. When Claire discovers Haley making out with her tutor, this is the impetus Claire needs to get Haley to break up with Dylan, her current shaggy haired dim-witted boyfriend who Claire has a problem with. Unfortunately, Phil takes this about as hard as Dylan does because Phil sees a little too much of himself in Dylan.

This story really only worked because it set up the great bit where Phil keeps trying to play his song for Dylan to which Dylan keeps coolly ignoring. Burrell has the natural ability to play the earnestly innocent and the way his voice almost breaks in desperation throughout the episode and the show is pitch perfect, it really doesn’t get any better. His single shot at the end of the episode was quite impressive as well simply because of the amount of different jokes he was able to pull off in thirty seconds. Kudos to the writers for that bit.

Haley was also able to get in a few good lines this episode. Its a true testament of Sarah Hyland’s ability to add more depth to her fairly stereotypical ditzy teenage role, that she is able to make lines where she is surprised that making out for a correct answer and crying on her father’s shoulder real and emotional at the same time.

The only problem with this episode was Dylan. Normally I love Dylan, I think he was one of the shows many secret weapons last year. But by having him in a prominent role this week we had to make sacrifices which meant no Luke. And that I can not stand for because no matter how funny it is to see Dylan get upset about seeing Haley everywhere (especially in family pictures) he can’t compare to Luke. And since it appears that each Dunphy kid will spend one episode on the bench, it seems this weeks was Luke. Hopefully that won’t be the case next week.

Next we found Mitchell once again uncomfortable with something Cam (by proxy) does. Its usually a big deal when we get to meet another member of the extended family but this one just felt underwhelming, especially considering it was Cam’s mother. And while it was interesting to see a different side of Cam, his mother was basically regulated to being “handsy.” Which was funny, don’t get me wrong, but it just felt a little too basic sitcom-y for me. Cam’s family deserves just as much love and attention as the rest of the gang, he should’ve gotten a little bit more to work with Modern Family.

And finally we have Jay feeling a little upset which turns into some minor surgery. This was truly the low point of the episode, but there just wasn’t much to work with to begin with so it didn’t really have much else to do. As usual, cultures collide and Gloria feels Americans are wussy men who can’t take a scratch. Jay feels differently and is ultimately right when he gets admitted to surgery. But besides two funny moments (Gloria fixing her dislocated shoulder and Manny taking Jay’s call on the mini-golf course) this story just didn’t do it for me. They didn’t even have the decency to give us .gif ready shots of Gloria in her shirt. Alas.

Despite my bitching, I still love Modern Family. This week’s episode was still better than most of the crap on television. I was just a little disappointed because I know it can do better. But like a real family, I still believe in it and would gladly loan it money if it needed it. However crashing on my couch for over two weeks is a little excessive, especially without chipping in for groceries and utilities. I mean, is a thirty minute shower necessary daily? What are you, a fish? This is a ridiculous Glenn. No, YOU’RE out of the will.