However, what turns this week’s episode into a barrage of jokes that fail to work is the lackluster physical humour. At the climax, where many of the storylines come together at the Dunphy household basement, the cast is reduced to shrieking messes. The screaming and pandemonium, filmed with a lack of energy and focus, could have been copied and pasted from a sitcom on ABC’s sister network, the Disney Channel. (Let’s just say the possum steals the scene with an effortless performance.)
At a moment in the museum subplot, Gloria hides in a hurricane machine in the background as Manny talks to other mothers nonchalantly about his mother’s mysterious whereabouts. However, the camera does not do much to show us the kind of concoction that Gloria entangles herself in, robbing the audience of a pretty good joke (Also, why is there a hurricane machine at a museum?)
Episode director Ryan Case does not know how to frame rowdier physical material or pace the quick dialogue so that the viewer can register the jokes and laugh. The script from Dan O’Shannon also could have helped him with stories worth our time and interest. Except for the lice fiasco – where Cam uses some inspired tricks to divert Lily away from him – “The Feud” is a tame episode of Modern Family. Also questionable: why does Cam not just tell Lily she has lice, get some special shampoo and apply it to mend the conflict like a regular person? Is he really that much of a sitcom floozy that he would actually drive all the way to the Pritchetts to grab something to help him out (i.e. set up a misunderstanding at the household in the next scene)?
At one point during the episode, Mitch and Cam talk about meeting with a photographer Pepper recommended to them for their wedding. Mitch mentions that he is a cinematographer who won a Golden Globe, and Cam bites back with, “You win an Oscar. You buy a Golden Globe.” There are two issues with this joke. First, the Golden Globes do not give out awards for cinematography. Second, this could be a barb toward the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which only awarded the show one top honour for comedy series (as opposed to four from the Television Academy). Well, if Modern Family wants to buy its next Golden Globe award, it is going to have to bribe the HFPA with some sharper, funnier, less forgettable material.