For the second week in a row Modern Family was about moments rather than the full episode. Each of the four tracks of story in “Door to Door” had their moments, especially for Phil, but as a whole the episode was somewhat middling.
As we begin, Claire (Julie Bowen) is driving the girls to school when she nearly kills Phil (Ty Burrell) because of an intersection that lacks a stop sign. Phil’s suburban cross country skiing gear is one of those moments I mentioned earlier, very funny.
Claire is going to the City Council about the dangerous intersection but first she must go door to door in order to get the necessary signatures in order to force the issue. Naturally, Claire would like some help but Phil and Lucas especially, are caught up in another, more urgent pursuit.
Luke (Nolan Gould) accidentally hit Phil in the head with a basketball and the ball accidentally went into the basket. Luke surmises that if they had caught that moment on camera it would be a YouTube sensation. So, the father and son duo set out to recreate the moment, even if it means repeatedly hitting Phil in the head with a basketball.
When Manny (Rico Rodriguez) asks Jay (Ed O’Neill) for some money, Jay launches yet another fruitless attempt to teach Manny about business. Manny is supposed to sell wrapping paper door to door and Jay offers to help which leads, of course, to a few awkward moments, including Manny’s attempt to sell Christmas to a Jewish woman through the not so subtle use of stereotype.
“Hello ma’am, do you love Christmas?” “Actually I’m Jewish” “Oh, well then, you must appreciate a good value.”
Gloria’s (Sophia Vergara) trouble with Jay’s dog Stella continued this week as she accidentally lets Stella get out of the yard and lost in the neighborhood. This subplot seems only to have existed so that Cam (Eric Stonestreet) could help Gloria in her search giving him the opportunity to shout the name Stella and evoke Stanley in Streetcar Named Desire; complete with a little girl named Blanche joining the story.
Cam is happy to get out of the house for a while as he made a big mess in the kitchen and hopes that Mitchell’s (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) neat freakiness will get the best of him. This is the weakest Cam and Mitchell plot of the season thus far even as it led to an awkward moment with their adoption agent, a plot that will continue for a few more episodes.
The funniest moment of “Door to Door,” and of this season of Modern Family so far, was a series of escalating jokes about the movie The Blind Side. When Claire laments that her family doesn’t have her back she ends up comparing herself to the mom in The Blind Side, among others. This led to this brilliant exchange between Phil and the Kids:
“Ok, huddle up everybody. You’re mother’s right. She’s the Quarterback of this family and we need to protect her like Blind Side did.” “She just said the mom was Blind Side.” “Well she’s confused, Blind Side was the black kid who played tight end.” “Offensive Line” “Sorry, African American kid.”
The subtle genius of Ty Burrell cannot be measured here. Even as “Door to Door” wasn’t Modern Family at its strongest, Burrell was Emmy-worthy on his own. With The Blind Side bit and the basketball bit, Phil stole the whole episode.
As for Claire’s trip to City Council, it’s always cool to see David Cross on TV. His role as the head of the traffic department, obsessed with his lack of an Ice Cream cake on his birthday, was a good introduction to what is understood to be a minor recurring role. That the City Hall scene allowed for a reprise of The Blind Side bit, made it that much better.