Modern Family Review: “Farm Strong” (Season 5, Episode 4)


My, how the time has flown. Modern Family, the most honoured comedy in recent television history, celebrated its 100th episode Wednesday night. In addition, there was not that much buzz attached to this milestone, likely because reaching this point was a foregone conclusion as soon as the first season showed strong ratings and viewership. There were not any big celebrity guests and no major plot twists. Instead, the comedy showed that 100 episodes in, it can still be fresh, sharp, sweet and overall, very funny.

Farm Strong is a better episode than last’s week overstuffed collection of stories, mostly because it does a terrific job at gathering the varying plot threads into one scene, a dinner at the Pritchett’s, before the last commercial break. Although just two of the three main stories work in their entirety, Farm Strong, written by Emmy-winner Elaine Ko and directed by Alisa Statman, recalls season one-era episodes. The jokes fly faster and the sweetness feels purer, ensuring a lovely balance of humorous and heartwarming.

This week, as usual, the best story revolves around the Dunphy household. Kicking off with great bedroom banter between Phil and Claire – I dare you to find me a couple on TV with better chemistry – the Dunphy parents are in a bit of a hole. Luke’s long soccer games ruin their R&R time on the weekend, and Phil and Claire do not want to attend his game. When Phil decides to spend it cleaning up the gutter, his new device (the Gutt-Er Done) cuts through a bird’s nest, making him feel guilty. Soon, crows are pecking for him on the roof.

Meanwhile, Jay suspects that Gloria’s vision is failing her and that she ditched the optometrist’s office to get her nails done. He tries to get her to admit she has vision problems. This is a crafty reversal of the obvious May-December joke when the elder partner would deny they were having trouble seeing, although this come back to haunt Jay at the episode’s end (it turns out his hearing is, conventionally, not too good). It is worth a laugh to hear Jay call his wife “Magoo,” though.