Season 3, Episode 11
A black mouse may be a bad omen, but this first episode of 2012 is hopefully a good omen for the second half of this season’s Modern Family. While not an all-time best, overall I thought this show kicked things off to a funny start by focusing on many of its key strengths: great character pairings, common details that weave among the different stories, and a dramatic collision of events that brings the whole clan together.
Little Black Mouse
Being the superstitious woman that she is, Gloria believes that her vision of a black mouse spells impending doom. Of course the realist Jay thinks the only bad thing to enter the house is Manny’s “Bagger Vance” golfing attire…oh, and the surprise visit of Manny’s father. Benjamin Bratt reprised his role as the suave Javier—former “husband and lover” of Gloria. We have seen him before, but like Manny, not very often. Javier is not exactly father of the year, so Gloria has every right to be over-protective and make Jay tag along to Manny and Javier’s outing—to the race track. In the past year or so, we have really seen Jay grow into his protective fatherly role toward his stepson, so this was the perfect setting to show Jay’s concern that Manny not get hurt and his jealousy toward Manny’s affection for his dad. The race track also set the stage for Jay and Javier’s conflicting views toward life reflected by their betting strategies. Javier believes in ‘seeing the soul of the winner’ and going with a gut feeling, while Jay is all about hard stats and strategy. Even though Javier wins the day in terms of gambling, Jay walks away realizing just how much Manny means to him.
Cam and Mitchell are probably one of the most competitive couples on TV. So when Mitch comes home with a classy environmental law award and places it on the mantel, Cam clearly decides that the room is unbalanced until one of his trophies sits beside it. Good thing he keeps an old box in the garage and has a bass fishing trophy on hand. The one-upmanship continues as each tries to make their trophy outshine the other. I have to say that Mitch would win the snappy zinger award to the cameras tonight, as he was on fire with snide remarks about Cam’s obsession with his “ridiculous” awards. But for me the real highlight was Mitchell’s moment of enlightening when Alex stops by to pick up her phone. I am loving these Alex/Uncle Mitchell moments—our book smart teen seems to share quite a few similarities with her snarky uncle. With quips like “I don’t even get out of bed for an award that size,” she and Mitchell quickly bond over their frustration with other family members receiving ‘awards for showing up’ when the two of them bring home real honors. And that is when Mitchell realizes he is behaving like a teenage girl. That stereotype holds true a little while later when Mitchell decides to display even more of Cam’s childhood trophies and shrieks when a mouse comes out of the box! Uh oh—another mouse—could the omen be true?
Lifetime Supply—Not Guaranteed
Poor Phil began 2012 with a health scare. An innocent trip to the doctor turned into a fright when the doc ordered some tests. Phil had to bend over—and not just because the real estate market is difficult right now. While waiting for results the next day, he realizes that he has officially run out of his lifetime supply of razors, which he won years ago as a game show consolation prize. Could this be a bad omen? Gloria seems to think so when she arrives to tutor Hayley in Spanish. Can we have more Hayley-Gloria study sessions, por favor? These two are a perfect pairing for anything that involves language barriers. Phil doesn’t take Claire’s word that everything will be OK since, you know, she’s just a ‘marketing major from a party school.’ He spends the day trying to soak in as much of his family as possible, in as creepy a way as possible. When Phil starts asking their elderly neighbor (nice to see Luke has kept up that friendship!) about death, I was convinced that the old guy was going to croak that day—which would make the bad omen come true. But, that didn’t happen. Instead, the entire family arrives out of their concern for Phil. Just as their fears reach fever pitch, Phil gets the call from his doctor—who simply wants to know about a real estate listing. The real winning moment is the glances Cam—and even Mitch—shoot dashing Javier. If you didn’t catch it, go back and watch the end of the episode when Mitch takes a covert look at Javier’s butt.
What did you think of “Lifetime Supply”? Would you give it a trophy for effort or excellence?