Ohhh, guest stars. Although not necessarily the beginning of the end, I have to wonder if Matthew Broderick’s guest appearance is the faint pre-echo of the death knell sounding for the show’s creativity. Or maybe we’re just in sweeps months. But still: consider yourself warned, Modern Family.
For the umpteemth time, Modern Family goes back to the “comedy = misunderstanding” well, but the lack of originality in joke format is compensated for by an abundance of double-entendres in the “mistery date” story line. In short, we are treated to yet another elaborate misunderstanding when Phil (Ty Burrell) meets a new friend, Dave (Matthew Broderick) at the gym. Little does Phil know, but Dave is Cam’s (Eric Stonestreet) friend and the gym is a hotspot for m2m hookups. Dave is coming out of a long term relationship, so he’s hesitant, but Cam convinces Dave to give things a chance when “a cute guy” invites him to his house to watch football.
Until Dave calls Cam, I honestly had no idea where things were going. I was still waiting to see what would happen on Phil’s weekend home alone (more on that in a bit). When Dave arrives Phil and exlaims: “There’s my man!” then the comedy of errors begins. This was actually one of the show’s more plausible mix-ups since I didn’t think that Phil’s character was exaggerated even a bit to fit the plot. Phil is the same lovable, nice, innocent man that he always is. It’s so very Phil to have hooked up his iPad to seemingly every device in the house – including the light dimmer, fireplace, and television – so the moment when Dave sits down and Phil dims the lights and the fireplace comes blazing to life all seems to fit.
The other aspects of these scenes that work:
- The opening sequence when Dave arrives at Phil’s house and discovers that despite being married, Claire (Julie Bowen) knows that Phil needs this kind of weekend once in a while so it’s okay
- Dave’s awkward couch dance during the football game when he subtly tries to turn up the heat, only to be inadvertently rebuffed by Phil’s “Too close!” and “Timeout!” exclamations directed at the television
- Phil’s shirtless invitation to Dave to come upstairs to the bedroom and enjoy the “half-time festivities” when the television isn’t working properly
I think a lot of the success of this storyline has to do with the acting, as Ty Burrell and Matthew Broderick do a great job in their scenes together and seem really comfortable working alongside each other. Broderick’s shy, wounded Dave is perfect along side Phil’s obliviousness. So I will allow this guest stunt, but only because it was well executed!
The other stories are overshadowed by Phil’s “Guys Weekend” plot but there are some interesting pieces. Claire and Alex (Ariel Winter) are away at an academic competition and we get to enjoy Julie Bowen’s perfect portrayal of a mother fixated on her daughter’s success. Manny (Rico Rodriguez) and Luke (Nolan Gould) are along for the trip and Manny, of course, becomes infatuated with a girl he sees heading to a bar mitzvah. There are a few funny bar mitzvah moments when Luke busts out some surprisingly good Yiddish. My favourite: Manny exclaims that they are at the wrong bar mitzvah and Luke replies “Not if you like prime rib, bubbe!”
Finally, Jay (Ed O’Neill) overcomes another pregnancy milestone as he gives up his home office so that it can be converted to a nursery. Seeing as how they rich they are, I am a wee bit surprised that the mansion has so few rooms that Jay would have to give one up for the baby. I mean, it’s one hell of a nest. Should be plenty of room for nesting, non? There certainly is room in that poor baby’s nursery for Cam’s disastrously hideous gift mural, which Gloria (Sofía Vergara) and Jay somehow love. Anyways, some very lovely bonding moments between Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and his dad anchor in an amusing trip to the baby store.
All in all, not a bad episode. Broderick fits right in, not in a regular-character kind of way, but in a decent guest star way. What do you think? Is baby coming soon? Will he or she suffer horrible nightmares at the sight of the mural or just turn into a possessed demon child as a result of the creepy mural-eyes given to mural-Jay, mural-Gloria and mural-Manny? Hit up the comments with your thoughts
Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9pm EST on ABC