in Review

You Can’t Win Valentine’s Day

Modern Family – “Bixby’s Back”

With a show like Modern Family, it’s especially hard to escape the holiday trap. Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, while they need not feature in all shows, with a family-centric sitcom, you can’t really skip them. That said, you should at least try to do something new. I don’t mean for the genre as a whole. I mean don’t do exactly the same thing you did last year.

Last year, Phil and Claire assumed aliases for a romantic misadventure in a hotel. This year, they went to a restaurant full of elderly patrons driving around in those mart cart things. Claire doesn’t like feeling that old, so she puts last year’s plan back in motion. They have a rendezvous in the same hotel bar, then an accidental key card switch results in painfully telegraphed “hilarity.” I don’t blame the writers for doing this, Phil playing his Clive Bixby character is still really funny, and the whole seen at the bar is really great. I just wish they could have done something a little more inventive.

Meanwhile, Jay is trying to surprise Gloria with a dinner at home, but he has to get her out of the house first. His desire is to make his wife look foolish by getting her to angry leave a restaurant, then to be swept off her feet when she see’s what he’s done at home. But things don’t go the way he planned! WHAT A TWIST!

Despite being at the center of some of the funniest episodes, Cam and Mitchell continue to have really, painfully weak subplots. This time they’re confused about which of them Mitchell’s secretary has a crush on, so they argue about that for a while. The kids have nothing much going on, Manny is trying to seduce Haley, who is technically her niece. Haley is just sad about not having a boyfriend. I think I noticed the actress who plays Haley in an Olive Garden commercial yesterday.

Anyway, “Bixby’s Back” was funny because, well, Bixby’s back. But the rest of the episode felt pretty formulaic, in a bad way. You can do better Modern Family. I’ve seen you do it.