Modern Family, “The Old Wagon”: Old clunker.

Well, you’ve had quite the run of things, ‘Modern Family.’ Critically lauded, an impressive night at the Emmy’s, and looking around the internet, one of the only comedies no one really seems to be worried about this season. So, my question is: When’s the other shoe going to drop? How long will it be until the show runs out of the steam, the jokes becomes tedious and repetitive, and disappointed, we all turn to ‘Running Wilde’ on FOX?

After tonight’s premiere, I’m guessing that particular nightmare is still a ways off, as it looks like the show hasn’t skipped a beat during its hiatus. The titular (if you will) Old Wagon has been sitting in the Dunphy’s garage for years, and Claire’s finally come to the conclusion that they need to sell it. As a salesman, this sort of thing is Phil’s bread and butter, and it was really funny seeing how little faith Claire had that he could actually do it. While there are obviously many, many laughs to be had over how bumbling Phil can be, I think it’s just as funny to see him with his ire up.

So Claire realizes what an important part of her life the car represents and that getting rid of it is going to be a little harder than she thought, so Phil plans a picnic with family, in the old car, of course. Luke having to throw up and Haley getting scared by the spider didn’t really have me rolling on the floor, but I thought the set up and execution were pretty spot on, and showed us just how well these actors work in a  group. Phil jumping on the hood of the car was a lot funnier, for my money, anyway. As was the car sliding over the side of the mountain and Phil deciding that they were going to have to lower their asking price. Good stuff all, but Phil’s real funnybone moment came during his “what you don’t say is more important than what you do” speech at the end. Phil is kind of like Michael Scott in that he lack’s self-awareness, but is consistent with it. And also he’s funny.

With Cameron and Jay teaming up to keep Mitch away from anything with points tonight, I think the show may have found one of its highest yielding relationships (in laugh dollars, I mean). And I’m not sure if I can put my finger on exactly what it is that makes it work. Normally I’d say that it’s just funny putting the gay guy together with the guy who’s uncomfortable around gays, but I’m really trying to think of something smarter. But maybe that’s just it. Or maybe we’ll have to wait for the episode where Cameron dresses Jay up in drag and they both enter a dance competition. If I’m still laughing then, then I’ll know I was right. While he was being made fun of, Mitch had some nice beats, too. Tripping over the rock and the call-back to last season’s finale with the bird flying into the castle.

The Gloria and Manny storyline gave us all the laughs we’d expect from it, but there was something about it that felt a little stale to me. We’ve seen Manny worrying over girls before, and I think it’d be interesting to see him dealing a girlfriend, rather than trying to win one over. If you break it down, Manny may be a character without a tremendous amount of depth, but Rico Rodriguez plays him almost to perfection. I think there’s a tendency among the writers to believe that’s he going to be funny almost no matter what he does, so some of the same beats are being hit over and over again. It’s early days yet, so we’ll see if this really turns into a problem.

“The Old Wagon” didn’t get very crazy with the family combination’s. With the exception of Jay, everyone stayed in their respective corners. And maybe for a season premiere, you’d expect a little more interaction, but it still all felt right. Chalk it all up to a cast with genuine chemistry and a writing staff putting together a show that can live up to its hype. And without it, how would we get the taste of ‘The Middle’ out of our mouths? I’ve missed you, ‘Modern Family.’

Random thoughts:

  • When will Sofia Vergara’s breasts get their own guest credit? Seriously, there was a moment tonight when she was stirring her chocolate milk and my wife and I just burst out laughing.
  • Judging from tonight and last season’s “Starry Night,” I’m convinced the show’s writers have yet to completely plumb the comedy depths of the Dunphy’s garage.
  • Phil thinking that maybe, just maybe he could figure out a way to make a wormhole collapse in on itself was comedy gold, worth their weight in laugh dollars.
  • Did Rico Rodriguez put on a couple of pounds this summer? Pleasantly Plump Manny, I love it. Type 1 Diabetes Manny makes me sad.
  • “That was my Vietnam. And I was in Vietnam.”

One response to “Modern Family, “The Old Wagon”: Old clunker.

  1. I like watching Manny’s eyes when he has scenes with Gloria.

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