MODERN FAMILY: Keep Dylan, Lose Driver

Last night’s Modern Family was nowhere near a slam dunk in terms of incorporating the Special Guest Star (a really, really blah Minnie Driver only interacted with the Dunphys). Yet the episode worked on other levels. Keeping with the Dunphys for a moment, their dysfunction has been apparent from the pilot, but an absurd set of coincidences took it to the next level in this outing. It was a bit contrived that so much went wrong at once (the Porta-Potty, the empty liquor bottles, Dylan and Haley’s ultra dramatic break-up and makeup), but it gave us the sight gags of Luke in his boxers while Alex chased the rat and Phil “concluding a little business” in the makeshift restroom. This sequence of events also set the stage for maybe the least saccharine closing monologue to date courtesy of Claire. She acknowledged that she was happy with her choices and loved her family, but the frustrated desire that her old friend could have seen them at their best rang true. And Dylan is recurring gold. I’m not saying I’d want entire episodes built around him, but in small doses he’s the ideal amount of goofy/cool (and he goes to Anne Hathaway movies alone because she’s “every woman”).

Of the B plots, the weaker of the two focused on Cam and Jay. Their “moon landing” prior to the racquetball game set up some good one-liners for Cam, but it didn’t really go anywhere unless you count Jay’s later moon landing with another gym member and subsequent horror. Every money moment was in the Mitchell/Gloria/Manny story. The interactions between Mitchell and Manny, especially when the truth came out about Gloria’s car accident, further drove home the point that while all the kids are good, Rico Rodriguez is the standout and can more than hold his own with any of his adult costars (and how great was he when stuffing his mouth full of cupcakes?).

While it’s still finding itself, Modern Family is a definite hit, and it should be around for several seasons. I think that’s what excites me most. They have to work some kinks out, but once it hits its stride, classic episodes will abound. But ixna on more Minnie Driver, kay?

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