BLOGS

The Telefile
<i>Modern Family</i> Season Premiere: What Worked (Second Episode) and What Didn’t (First One)

While I'd argue that Modern Family could easily get better from last season -- stop reusing the same plotlines, don't feel so obligated to stick to a three story-arc per episode format, give Claire a redeeming personality -- such improvements were absent from the first two episodes of Season 3. Last night, in "Dude Ranch" we saw those elements we complained about a few months back to the nth degree. Thankfully, in "When Good Kids Go Bad," things were cleaned up a bit and we were back on track as far as tone and laughs were concerned. And whether or not you agree with all of the show's recent Emmy wins, I think it's safe to say that discerning viewers have reason to believe that this show may not hold up in quality if some serious changes don't start getting made... and if Cam and Mitchell's new baby isn't seriously effing cute.

Let's take a look at what didn't work about "Dude Ranch," and what absolutely did in "When Good Kids Go Bad"

"Dude Ranch"
Dumbed-Down Dylan: He's never been the sharpest tool in the shed, but when did Dylan get that stupid? Sure, he sang "In the Moonlight (Do Me)" in front of the entire family, but I had a hard time believing he was moronic enough to get lost in the woods, met a "woman named Jake, who as strong like a man" (really, what even was that? Reminded me of Michael the trainer from Arrested Development) and decide to start a new life in Wyoming? Were the writers that sick of Reid Ewing? And how is Phil still standing without his would-have-been son-in-law?

Ill-Fitting Guest Stars: Oy. Tim Blake Nelson as the horny cowboy did not work for me at all, and let's not get into how many times we've seen that plotline. Jimmy (Matthew Gumley) was an odd choice for this episode, and seemed more like a gag character from an '80s sitcom, or Mad Men's Glen Bishop's long-lost brother, or, indeed, "a Mario brother," as Alex nicely put it. He was just the wrong character for the job, as much as I liked the storyline that Alex's first kiss is nothing like she wanted it to be.

More Gags About Gloria's Terrible Voice: Enough.

A Rape Joke? Reminiscent of Pete Hornberger's 30 Rock joke about having sex with your wife while she's asleep, Phil clumsily told the horny cowboy, "Only we touch our women when they don't want us to." It was nowhere near as offensive -- thank the lord there was no visual cutaway -- but the vestigial one-liner just didn't sit entirely right with me. On that note, let's move on to episode two, and what did work.

"When Good Kids Go Bad"
Over-the-Top Cam: As far as gags I don't get sick of, I love it when Cam takes things too far. Just like presenting Lily (who is so big now, I can't even!) Lion King-style in Season 1 was hilarious, I loved the banner and the sparklers in preparation of the baby-boy-to-be. Even Lily's "I hate the baby" plotline was funny, since it had an edge and a reasonable explanation behind it.

Fair Fights: I'm not into everyone picking on Claire, but she balanced a fair need to be right (since she was demonized so hard by her family this episode) and the realization that maybe she is too much of a know-it-all. It felt like a character was able to actually learn something, and maybe apply it next time -- a quality that the writers allow Claire to have on a pretty regular basis.

Kid Appreciation: The younger actors packed way more punch in the second episode than the last, with Manny's physical comedy (his jokes in "Dude Ranch" were tiresome), the Dunphy kids' group Claire-shaming (oh man, and the satisfied look on Phil's face every time) and every single thing that came out of Luke's mouth, especially: "Give me a day or two to get settled, and then I'll have you up." And seriously, how old is Lily now?!

Watch TWoP's editors discuss returning shows that have fallen from greatness in recent years in this segment airing on the New York Non Stop news channel:

View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.

What are people saying about your favorite shows and stars right now? Find out with Talk Without Pity, the social media site for real TV fans. See Tweets and Facebook comments in real time and add your own -- all without leaving TWoP. Join the conversation now!

Comments

SHARE THE SNARK

X

Get the most of your experience.
Share the Snark!

See content relevant to you based on what your friends are reading and watching.

Share your activity with your friends to Facebook's News Feed, Timeline and Ticker.

Stay in Control: Delete any item from your activity that you choose not to share.

MOST RECENT POSTS

BLOG ARCHIVES

The Telefile

March 2014

25 ENTRIES

February 2014

24 ENTRIES

January 2014

43 ENTRIES

December 2013

15 ENTRIES

November 2013

28 ENTRIES

October 2013

40 ENTRIES

September 2013

37 ENTRIES

August 2013

16 ENTRIES

July 2013

15 ENTRIES

June 2013

26 ENTRIES

May 2013

38 ENTRIES

April 2013

43 ENTRIES

March 2013

35 ENTRIES

February 2013

58 ENTRIES

January 2013

62 ENTRIES

December 2012

48 ENTRIES

November 2012

60 ENTRIES

October 2012

71 ENTRIES

September 2012

67 ENTRIES

August 2012

66 ENTRIES

July 2012

51 ENTRIES

June 2012

60 ENTRIES

May 2012

70 ENTRIES

April 2012

73 ENTRIES

March 2012

72 ENTRIES

February 2012

64 ENTRIES

January 2012

80 ENTRIES

The Latest Activity On TwOP