Modern Family Season 3-11 ‘Lifetime Supply’ Recap

Benjamin Bratt is a great addition to any cast and joining Modern Family for “Lifetime Supply,” Bratt proved to be the MVP of a solid if not spectacular outing for Modern Family. Bratt took a break from his smoldering performance on ABC’s Private Practice for a little cross-network synergy playing Manny’s bio-dad, Javier.

Javier is part con-artist and all charmer as he drops in on Jay (Ed O’Neill), Gloria (Sophia Vergara) and Manny (Rico Rodriguez) just In time for Manny’s birthday. Jay and Manny were planning to go golfing but Javier ropes them into going to the horse track where Javier has a system for winning big.

Every TV gambler has a system but Javier’s system is perfectly suited not only to win but to cause Jay endless irritation. While Jay follows the racing form Javier convinces Manny that he can sense which horse is going to win by listening to them and looking them in the eye. Naturally, Javier wins big and Jay is left flabbergasted by his continued failures culminating in a dumb luck win that gets overturned.

The subtext here is thick and eventually becomes text when Jay finally levels with us and tells us that while Manny isn’t really his son with Javier never around Jay feels like Manny’s real father. Seeing Javier, spending time with him and Manny, serves to remind Jay that he’s not Manny’s dad and it’s a realism that is sadder than Jay lets on.

This week’s runner story, the one that coalesces all three tracks of story into one, finds Phil (Ty Burrell) getting bad news from his doctor; or so he thinks. On a routine doctor visit Phil’s doctor tells him he needs further tests and promises a call with the results. When Phil misses the doctor’s call the following morning he begins to panic.

This sounds pretty basic until you add on the layers of loopy that are the bread and butter of Modern Family. On the same day that Phil misses a call from his doctor he also runs out of what was supposed to be a ‘lifetime’ supply of razors that he won on a game show; “Smarty Pants.” Naturally, Phil is convinced that the end of a lifetime supply is a sign that his life may be ending.

Gloria only adds to Phil’s superstition with her random dream about a mouse and a staircase; the idea of which is funnier than any explanation I might attempt. A mouse also has a role in Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam’s (Eric Stonestreet) story this week.

When Mitchell wins an award for his work in environmental law and places the award on the mantel, it inspires Cam to pull out one of his old fishing trophies to also place on the mantel. This leads to an escalating feud over the size of the trophies and Cam’s rather large collection of trophies.

I loved the way this story was tied up. As Mitchell is considering ways to further the feud he has a conversation with Alex (Ariel Winter) that reminds him, by chance, that he’s acting like a 14 year old girl. Unfortunately, when Mitchell tries to mend fences with Cam by displaying his many trophies he uncovers a mouse and accidentally destroys Cam’s trophies in the process of freaking out.

Phil’s story plays out with the whole family on hand for the news. The fact that the doctor was calling on a Saturday has them convinced that it must be bad news. Instead, the doctor is calling about a real estate listing; and Phil’s tests came back normal.

Random notes:

  • As Phil is getting a colon cancer test his natural, perfectly Phil Dunphy response to the rubber glove is:
  • “Dim the lights, crank up the Norah Jones and let’s get this over with.”
  • Benjamin Bratt’s Javier set Jay up for the best insult of the night…
  • Javier: “I feel that in a past life I was a horse.”……..Jay: “Or part of a horse.”
  • Bratt settled perfectly into the rhythms of the Modern Family cast. His relaxed charm mixed with the smarm of a deadbeat dad con-man is the perfect irritant for Jay and the two bounce off each other with comic precision.
  • As Gloria is trying to help Haley (Sarah Hyland) with her Spanish homework Haley’s exasperation offered this gem…
  • “Why do I need to learn Spanish? I live in California; it’s not like I’ll ever need it.”
  • Cam’s Missouri background is a bottomless well of comic gold. I cannot wait to find out what other events he’s won awards for. His fishing trophy alone produced terrific comedy.
  • This was a very Claire-lite episode. With a cast the size of Modern Family cast, with a guest star on top, it must be hard to give everyone equal time. This week it was Julie Bowen who made room for Benjamin Bratt and a brief appearance by Luke’s (Nolan Gould) old friend Walt; played by the literally old Phillip Baker Hall.

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