After our favorite round-headed kid saved a sparse Christmas tree from the forest on A Charlie Brown Christmas, our favorite ball of fur, Cam, did a little tree hugging of his own later that night on this week’s Modern Family.
The Dunphy/Pritchett/Delgado/Tuckers tackled (some better than others) their biggest insecurities. Jay was forced to overcome his fears about parenting at such an old age. He didn’t have much of a choice in the matter though; Phil beat it out of him in a play boxing ring. While Jay and Manny struggled to fit in with the crowd they don’t usually roll with at a kid’s party, Phil and Luke tried to maintain the status quo.
Meanwhile, Gloria suffered from yet another pregnancy symptom (“pregnancy brain”), but ultimately found solace in the fact that Claire’s just as absent-minded. Cam and Mitch put on a united front to save a park in the tree, thereby strengthening the roots of their relationship, and Alex learned that revenge is in fact quite bitter.
Tonight’s best moments:
1. Mitch is a little distracted when Cam announces that their favorite tree in the park is going to be cut down to make room for a parking lot at the park. You see, Cam has been so overwhelmed by his roles as parent, teacher, and understudy extraordinaire that he hasn’t had time to swap out the handles he removed from Lily’s dresser, forcing Mitch to use a kitchen utensil to open the drawers. One of my favorite lines of the night came when Lily tried to use a spatula to force open a drawer, then cried out in exasperation, “We can’t live like this!” First hyperbolic language then physical comedy? She’s Cam’s daughter, all right.
2. Manny is reluctant to go to his classmate’s Olympics-themed birthday party for several reasons. A. He’s not athletic, B. The party’s theme is illogical, and C. His classmate’s motives for inviting him are questionable. “I think he only invites me because he likes to match skin color to nation. I know that’s why Allen Yan gets invited,” Manny says.
Jay eventually loses a boxing match to Phil at the party, but is the MVP of this scene at home. “And for god’s sake, change out of those wing tips. You’re a kid, you’re not Nixon on the beach,” he says when Manny comes downstairs after primping for the party. Manny then goes to grab his “sporty shoes” that are still unopened in the box. Jay delivers more punches after Claire comes over to take (read: supervise) Gloria shopping. When describing his wife’s diminishing mental faculties, he says, “Last week I found a bar of soap in the fridge and a stick of butter in the shower. I walked around all day smelling like a bucket of popcorn.” “Better than the toast I ate,” Manny chimes in. “Yet you ate the second piece,” he retorts. And it’s a knockout!
3. On the dangerous car ride to Costco, we see more signs of Gloria’s tendency to sporadically shut off her brain. Claire initially sympathizes with his younger step-mother, after all she’s delivered three children of her own. “When I was pregnant with Alex, I could barely remember my name,” Claire says. “Same with Haley and Luke?” Gloria asks. “Not so much. They kind of just hung out in there, let me do my thing.” Then the irritatingly endearing Gloria opens the door of the car before Claire has parked the vehicle. “Why didn’t you stop first?” Gloria yells in her shrillest voice. I’m beginning to think that Jay needs the empathy, not Gloria.
4. The final scene of the night combined elements of two story lines that are laugh-out-loud-funny on paper, but just noisy on screen: Cam getting stuck on the tree he was occupying dressed as a cat (he filled in as the lead in their local theater troupe’s musical CATS) and Alex struggling to take an embarrassing photo of Haley picking up trash on the highway. Cam, who’s still in cat form, goes to pick up a drill from Jay to finally fasten Lily’s dresser handles. Jay stops in his tracks at the ungodly sight of the jumbo-sized feline, inadvertently reassuring Gloria that she’s not hallucinating. “Ayyy, good. You see that too?” she asks. Jay’s dog Stella then comes barking up the wrong tree. Cam says he takes the attack as a compliment and hisses at the bulldog, frighting it away. He then closes the episode with his best line of the night, “CATS, now and forever. Actually just ’til next Thursday. It’s been described as transcendent,” a nervous laugh, and slight bow, ending the scene just as awkwardly as he opened it. Then came two blink-and-you’ll-miss-it snapshots of Haley posing with police officers in jail — A.K.A. additional proof that she can’t take a bad photo. These pictures are even more epic than her glamour mug shots.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Were you convinced that Gloria’s water broke in the Costco interrogation room? Who should play Cam in the movie about his life, Sean Penn or Anne Hathaway? Do you think the Dunphys have anger management issues?