You know a holiday episode of a TV show, any TV show, works if the viewer wishes she could be a part of the festivities. Dysfunctional as they were, I wanted to be at the various Sopranos‘ Thanksgivings and Christmases (for the food if nothing else). I would have attended any number of Office Christmas parties to date if only for the lifetime supply of unbelievable anecdotes (off the top of my head, I’m thinking of Meredith’s hair alight and Michael’s subsequent intervention). And Festivus? The Airing of Grievances? The Feats of Strength? Enough said.
In a roundabout way, I’m trying to say that tonight’s Pritchett/Dunphy Halloween House of Horrors was awesome. Despite a few false starts, the entire clan ultimately got into the spirit of the thing (Gloria’s witch – accent and all, Cameron as the disembodied head, Mitchell as the evil scarecrow, etc.). I’ve had neighbors with houses like this, and for a moment I just wanted to be ten, in search of a sugar rush, and hanging out with Frankenstein Manny, gargoyle Jay, and corpse couple Phil and Claire.
The episode surrounding the ghoulish centerpiece was solid, unquestionably one of the strongest of the show’s sophomore season. Claire’s need to keep Halloween her holiday in the face of an ever-evolving family dynamic gave Julie Bowen a moment where Claire is both crazy and poignant. Gloria speaking “American?” Kudos to Sofia Vergara. Cameron’s tortured tale of Halloween Past built slowly and strongly to an amusing climax for Eric Stonestreet. Phil and his suddenly divorced neighbor felt a bit forced (have we ever even seen Jerry before?) and was essentially an excuse for Phil to try to make out with Claire at inappropriate times. Still, gotta love Claire telling Phil that he’s stuck with her in the cemetery that was once their front yard. The only part of the episode that completely fell flat was Mitchell’s workplace costume drama (why didn’t he just pull away from the building and find some public restroom to change his clothes upon realizing his faux pas?). I’d have bought Mitchell late for work before Mitchell, literally, as Spider-Man. As it was the only plot that wasn’t wrapped up in any way at the end of the show, you got the sense that even the writers grew bored and just wanted to get to the haunted house.
But that one misstep aside, I really enjoyed the episode. And I’ve been looking for a costume. Maybe I’ll go as Mother Teresa. You know. Back when she was hot.