Dunphy Mifflin: Has Modern Family Jumped the Shark?
I love ModernFamily more than anything on TV right now. It’s really the only appointment viewing I still have (and I don’t even have a DVR!). However, Wednesday night’s episode certainly left me feeling worried. For those who haven’t yet seen it, Phil and Claire decide to spice up their love life on Valentine’s Day by role playing. The two decide to take on the personas which were first seen in last year’s stellar “My Funky Valentine.” The chemistry between Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell during the previous episode’s initial meeting at the hotel bar remains unmatched in the show’s history, as Claire and Phil took on sexy alter egos, Juliana and Clive Bixby, respectively. So, you can imagine I was quite excited when I learned we would hear more awkward flirting between these two during this past Wednesday’s outing. I was certainly looking forward to more of Phil’s attempts at being smooth.
“I’m pretty smooth all over.”
Claire’s facial expressions during last year’s show, as she struggled to role play with Phil’s ludicrous designer of high end electro-acoustic transducers stands as one of the finer moments for the character, which as any fan knows, is saying a lot. Claire is widely considered to be the funniest character on the show, afterall. So, coming off a fantastic intro, which saw Jesse Tyler Ferguson produce what was probably the best cold open freeze frame yet, as well as some of the funniest bickering we’ve seen from Mitch and Cam, we were treated to the return of Clive Bixby. Clive appeared, charming as ever, and proceeded to wake up this blogger’s sexy sleeping giant.
Ribbed shirt for her pleasure.
Phil clumsily flirts with his wife in hilarious fashion, tossing out gems like, “you look hot enough to cook a pizza on… in.” Classic Phil. The scene continues with Juliana questioning Clive’s profession, which is where things take an uncomfortable detour. After revealing he works for Uncle Sam as a “National Man of Mystery,” Clive gently probes Juliana to reveal what she does for a living as well.
(Click the image for the video)
Phil: “Never did catch what you do.”
Claire: “Didn’t you?”
Phil: “Surprising, I know. I’m usually pretty good at catching things from women in bars.”
No man would say that to a woman, not even Phil Dunphy. That is a level of stupidity beyond anything we’ve seen from this character, and I am very afraid of the direction this could lead the show. When did Phil Dunphy become Michael Scott?
Michael once drove into a lake while blindly following directions given by a GPS unit. Haley once drove through a park while blindly following directions given by a GPS unit. Coincidence?
When the US version of The Office began in 2005, Steve Carrell was still likable. Dunder Mifflin was a fun place to hang with the dimwitted boss and his zany antics. Over time however, the character devolved. He went from dumb to dumber in the same way as the popular movie franchise of a similar name. Unfortunately, this is a sitcom trend as old as the hills. It’s widely agreed that Homer Simpson has gotten dumber each season. This was hilarious when it was pointed out by Troy McClure reading a fan letter in the classic episode “The Simpsons’ 138th Episode Spectacular.” Over time, though, Homer crossed the line from being stupid and funny to stupid and annoying. Ditto Peter Griffin.
The set up for this joke felt very forced, like the writers loved the pun so much they struggled to work it into the scene at any cost. As my time working on the upcoming “EPam Wars” from WeedWacker4203 Games has taught me, this is a very tempting thing to do. Sometimes, though, you’ve just got to let a joke go. That’s what the DVD extras are for. It is also why we usually say, “well, that scene was deleted for a reason,” after watching one of them.
The set up and delivery were so cartoonish I thought for a moment I was watching Charlie Sheen hit on a prostitute during an episode of Two and a Half Men. If you’ve seen that show this season, then you’ll know the main story arc currently involves Rose pretending to marry a manakin to win Charlie back. Oh, and the manakin is named Manny Quinn. We can cancel the Emmy’s this year, folks, because the winner of Best Comedy is clear! We really can cancel the Emmy’s, though. Ed O’Neill was right when he said Sophia Vergara is funnier than Jane Lynch. He should have stuck to his guns. Speaking of Jane Lynch, didn’t her phsychiatrist character help Charlie get over his problem of wanting-the-thing-he-did-not-want-when-he-could-have-had-it-but-now-wants-because-he-cannot-have-it a few seasons ago?
Wow, Charlie Sheen looks awful.
I do not want to see Phil, Claire, or any of the rest of the cast follow either of these paths. There is still hope, of course, but it’s tempered. This week’s episode had a fantastic call back to Cam’s bike shorts and showed great promise for the continuity of the story. Continuity in sitcoms is something that is often overlooked, but can really bring a world together. Look at How I Met Your Mother for a great example of continuity done right. It appeared the writers had good sense as they chose to retire Juliana and Clive at the end of the night, abating my fear they may return to the same comedic well too many times. After seeing the press release for next week’s outing, “Princess Party,” I wonder now if they may return to too many wells instead. Next week we’ll see the wonderful Shelly Long reprise her role as Jay’s first wife, DeDe, to attend Lily’s birthday party. The party Cam would like to attend dressed as Fizbo.
So, what do you think folks? Am I over reacting? Was I the only person who was upset by Ty Burrell’s groan of shame after delivering the line (I’m convinced that was not in the script)? Did I really write a 1,000 word essay about a line of dialogue from a TV show?
Well, I’m going to keep my faith in ModernFamily for the time being. You may ask yourself why I would or why you should, and the answer is simple. I know my message is being heard by the people that matter.
I shit you not. This is real.
I doubled my readership and saved Phil Dunphy in one fell swoop.
Did ABC.com validate me?