Modern Family: Phil on a Wire

By Samantha Gillis

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Courtesy of ABC

“Modern Family” was back to its half hour slot on Wednesday night. It’s strange, last week I was considering how good it was that, despite its success, “Modern Family” has remained only 30 minutes long. I thought an hour would be too much and they would end up reaching for jokes that weren’t there. I’m now realizing what a treat that hour was last week. I still maintain that the show shouldn’t push its limits and extend to an hour, but this week they seemed to be pushing for jokes that never really developed.

Gloria is angry about Jay’s attachment to their dog, Stella, who now shares the bed with them and showers with Jay. The shower scene with Jay and the dog was strangely similar to last week’s shot of Lily holding Cam’s hand in the shower. They even used the same word: coddling. Weird. Gloria ends up on the floor barking at Stella in an attempt to get her to chew up Jay’s shoe. Stella gives the camera what I like to call the “Jim Halpert.” They really didn’t give Manny much to do this week but hopefully he’ll get more screen time next week.

Cam undertakes a juice fast and Mitchell prepares for the worst, but decides to join in rather than fight it. Mitchell documents Cam’s “stage-by-stage descent into madness,” while preparing for a work cocktail party. I was holding my breath for Cam’s big break down in front on Mitchell’s boss but it never came. Instead, Mitchell was the one to loose his cool when the sad story of Snorkels the sea lion proves to be too much, causing him to run into the ocean in search of Snorkels. Now that Lily can talk, I’d like to see more of her. But again, one half hour and three families doesn’t give a lot of time for each story.

I really wish they would give Claire more to do than complain and fight. Her storyline with the traffic cop didn’t work, and just seemed like it was there to give Claire something to fight with. Julie Bowen is better than that. Her Emmy says so.

Hayley and Alex form a corrupt bargain when they are put in the same math class with Hayley exchanging the gifts of her popularity for his intelligence. This plot had the potential to be very funny in an episode that was a bit weak. Unfortunately it was disappointing.

Finally, Phil, with Luke’s encouragement, tries his hand at tightrope walking. When Luke told Phil he needed to go higher, I expected to see Phil scaling the house when they panned back to him. Instead, the whole thing turned into a family moment, which I didn’t like. I did like that Phil  had to fall three out of four times on flat ground to decide that it was time to get off the ground.

I was so excited for this season, and the Emmys built a lot of hype. I told friends that this show has made me cry from laughing so hard. I made my parents watch it.  Maybe it was too much hype, but so far I’m disappointed with the writing. The acting has been great, and some scenes are saved only by their fantastic delivery. Right now they’re one for three with me, so here’s to hoping for a tear-inducing episode four next week.

Quote of the Night
“Where I come from, men cherish women. It goes wife, mistress, dog. Dog always at the bottom.”

Samantha Gillis can be reached for comment at [email protected]