Modern Family, “Starry Night”: I feel like I ate the sun!

“Starry Night” mixed things up a bit between the three families, which after these past few episodes was a welcome change of pace. I didn’t realize what a smart pairing Cameron and Gloria were until I saw the commercials for tonight’s episode, and I’m kind of surprised it’s taken the show this long to get the together. I mean, it’s kind of obvious, right? I thought Cameron was pitch perfect throughout the entire episode, especially after seeing his faux pas with Gloria at the beginning of the episode. The look on her and Manny’s face when Cameron made his comment about heading back to Colombia and taking her little “Brown” friend with her was priceless. My only problem with the story was that I wished we could have seen more of it. This is a problem that’s just not going to go away if the show wants to give every family a little face time in each episode and still have them split up into three different groups. So far, I think this format has worked fairly well for the show, but when they hit on something that particularly good, it’s going to suffer a little.

While there was no mix and match with the Dunphy clan, their story came together well, with both parents helping Haley and Luke with school projects. Claire was probably going against her better judgment by putting Phil in charge of Luke and his van Gogh project, ut in the end, Luke came through when Phil didn’t and finished things without his help. I think some of the biggest laughs came when we realized that Phil’s own problems (re: ADD) outweighed Luke’s. Phil climbing over the car to get at a pair of sunglasses on a top shelf was hilarious. I have to agree with Donna Bowman over at the AV Club when she said that the key to selling a scene like this is to do something stupid very, very carefully.

One beat I particularly liked was Claire going through the trouble to make Haley’s cupcakes for her while her daughter texted with friends, only to throw them away when she was finished with them. Stuff like that has a place close to my heart because I’ve spent enough time in the public school system to know that kids can’t find enough kind words to throw at you when they’re trying to get you to do their work for them. Seriously, they’re horrible, horrible people.

I thought the Jay/Manny/Mitch story mostly fell flat, which was a disappointment because so far, Manny’s been funny in almost everything he’s done this season. For me, his need to form a brotherly bond with Mitch by making fun of him the entire night seemed a little out of character, although I can appreciate the writers’ willingness to try something new with the character. I really didn’t find anything funny about Mitch’s consternation at the whole thing, or his getting sprayed by a skunk, or having to change into a dress. This one was a little weird because there’s a part of me that’s saying all of this should have been funny, it just wasn’t.

“Starry Night” wasn’t one of the show’s best episodes, but it was mostly solid and the scenes with Cameron and Gloria were worth the price of admission alone. Hopefully they’ll make good on their promise and we’ll see some of that shoe shopping in the future.

Stuff I liked:

  • Luke wearing Phil’s noise-canceling headphones. “Everybody is stupid except me!”
  • Cameron pouring sweat and yelling, “I feel like I ate the sun!”
  • Jay telling Mitch that, if he were “that sort of gay,” his legs would probably work out for him.

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