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The Telefile
Modern Family: Another Week, Another Stinker

"When a Tree Falls" was Modern Family at its most mediocre. The jokes didn't hit and the storylines were predictable, and even the highlights of the episode -- some of the interpersonal moments between the characters and the presence of guest star Paul Scheer -- weren't enough to make this an installment worth watching. I'm really hoping that Gloria has her baby next time so that we can finally have a new dynamic on the show to play with, because lord knows the writers aren't trying to come up with anything fresh. Actually, that's not true: there's obviously a little bit of playfulness coming from cut-away gags (like in this episode, Haley's mugshots), but they don't jibe when the rest of the show is exactly the same. At this point, Modern Family sometimes reminds me of the part of the E! True Hollywood Story about Full House when John Stamos said "I wanted some of the stuff to be a little more organic and not about, you know, poop jokes and let's bring a pig on and we'll have five laughs on that," only instead of a pig, we got a cat suit and an inflatable boxing ring.

There were a few kind of cute lines and moments, I guess, so let's look at them:

"On one hand, I'm like, 'Ugh I have to pick up garbage all day,' and on the other hand I'm like, 'look at me in orange!'"
I just really like Haley a lot (maybe because she's not around as often?), and though you could see her plotline's conclusion a mile away, Alex got to sneak in some fun slapstick moments that this show always benefits from. I just wish Luke was hanging out more with his sisters and less with his cousin/uncle Manny.

"Gloria needs watching. She's got a serious case of pregnancy brain. Last week, I found a bar of soap in the fridge and a stick of butter in the shower. I walked around all day smelling like a bucket of popcorn."
"Better than the toast I ate."
"Yet you ate the second piece."
I've mentioned this before, but I'm not feeling how cold Jay is to Manny these days. Still, this was kind of funny, though I'd prefer to have seen it rather than be told it. We've watched Jay enter a social group and a make an unexpected killing before (a few seasons ago with Mitch and Cam; this time with Phil), but what frustrates me most about this storyline is that I highly doubt it'll change the status quo between Jay and his son-in-law. At the very least, it was fun to hear Manny tell the story about Phil getting tased, given that we were there to see it. As for Claire and Gloria, I frankly don't think their plotline is worth mentioning.

"Sean Penn would play me in a movie about this, or Anne Hathaway, if they wanted a female-driven vehicle."
"And who would play your long-suffering partner?"
"Julianne Moore, either way."
"I would see that, I would."
Sure, why not? I'm glad the writers gave us a little bit of credit and didn't have a character (or a newspaper) flat-out tell us that Cam was literally a cat stuck in a tree, but I don't have too many positive things to say about this beyond that. Lily was mostly terrible -- though I liked her trying to open up her drawer with the spatula -- and I really wanted to see some of the aforementioned rats that lived up in Treeona Elmsley.

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