Even an average Modern Family is likely the funniest show on TV in any given week. The ABC comedy is on such a creative high at the moment that individual plot strands in an episode can falter and the episode still comes off brilliant because the other pieces are so strong.
This week’s episode, “Hit and Run” had two so-so plots, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch’s (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) trip to the movies and fender bender and the beginning of Claire’s (Julie Bowen) run for town council. Though neither is a standout plot on Modern Family, on most other sitcoms, these two plots would be an improvement.
Claire still wants a stop sign on the intersection that began the plot of last week’s episode. Encountering Dwayne Bailey (David Cross) on the street she’s quick to confront him about the issue while Phil (Ty Burrell) is quick to accept campaign buttons, Dwayne is running for town council.
“Dwayne Bailey: Councilman, Citizen, Puggle Breeder”
Inspired by her dislike for Dwayne, Claire considers running for town council herself but only if Phil can show that he can handle being alone with the kids every afternoon. Phil encouraging Claire to run by offering to push her off the cliff so she could fly was brilliant but even better was Phil’s explanation about being attracted to powerful women.
“I’ll admit it; I’m turned on by powerful women. Michelle Obama, Oprah, Condoleeza Rice, Serena…Williams…wait a minute.”
Haley (Sarah Hyland) is asking her siblings if she can borrow 900 dollars but she won’t say why she needs it. Alex (Ariel Winter) is quick with a no, Lucas (Nolan Gould) however, would help her out but he claims that he is not exactly ‘liquid’ at the moment. This turns out to be a literal statement from Lucas who has saved over 1200 dollars but has frozen the money in a block of ice after hearing about a rich guy with ‘frozen assets.’
Gloria (Sophia Vergara) is upset because the men in her life won’t let her help them. Jay (Ed O’Neill) is irritated by his new boss (Samm Levine, Freaks and Geeks), the entitled son of his former boss. Rather than talk to Gloria about his troubles, Jay blows her off and suffers in silence.
Manny (Rico Rodriguez) is irritated with his school which he feels is antiquated. Rather than let his mom help him however, he also chooses to suffer in silence though not before asking to be home schooled.
“Really Manny, you want me to learn you English?”
Vergara was by far the MVP of “Hit and Run.” Early on she caught us off guard when Jay complained that businessmen in his day never kept people waiting and out of nowhere Gloria hit Jay with “Yeah and soda was a nickel.” Gloria then went on to help inspire Claire to run for town council and when Jay finally let her help him at work it led to a genius closing joke that worked on multiple levels.
Sophia Vergara’s beauty and thick accent lead critics and audiences to underestimate her at every turn. “Hit and Run” offered sly, Meta comments on both and gave Vergara the chance to show everyone that she’s in on the joke more than we give her credit for.
Yes, Claire is running for town council but it didn’t look like it was going to happen after Phil’s one afternoon of being in charge of the kids. In the space of a few hours, Phil drugged Alex, gave Lucas a black eye and let Haley disappear long enough to throw away 900 dollars on fake IDs for her and her friends only to get ripped off.
The fake ID plot tied into Mitch and Cam’s plot this week which found them confronting Cam’s charge forward approach to confrontation and Mitchell’s calm, wait and see approach. First Cam confronts a man who brought his kids to a violent movie, though in reality, it was The Muppet Movie, Mitch and Cam had been sitting in the wrong theater.
Later, Cam and Mitchell get rear-ended and the driver of the car that hit them drove away. Cam wants Mitchell to get in the car and chase the guy down while Mitchell calmly calls police. Cam’s attempt to chase down the hit and run driver on foot created one of the more questionable gay jokes the show has ever offered, still funny, but a little questionable.
When Haley’s 900 dollar loss is revealed at a family dinner at Jay’s, it’s a chance for Cam to once again be confrontational, while Jay takes the opportunity to confront the young punk who took Haley’s money as another chance to stand up to his young boss and Phil takes it as another chance to prove how responsible he is as a dad.
The resolution of this plot was so-so but hearing Phil refer to his fists as “England Dan and John Ford Coley” is one of those priceless Ty Burrell moments. Great comedy minds apparently think alike, the punk who took Haley’s money for the fake ID’s was played by David Neher who was brilliant in the role of Todd on NBC’s Community less than a week ago.
Overall, another relatively strong episode for one of television’s funniest shows that only keeps getting funnier.