Recap – Modern Family 1.15 “My Funky Valentine”

If you missed last week’s lunar inspired episode of Modern Family, check out a recap here.

“My Funky Valentine” opens, aptly, on Valentine’s Day. At the Dunphy home, Claire and Phil exchange sweet cards. Phil informs Claire that he has made their annual (for the last 17 years!) reservation at Fratelli’s. Phil can’t hide his excitement, “Hello cannoli canoe!” At their home, Jay compliments Gloria on her choice of a new track jacket for him, and gives her a beautiful set of earrings. But Jay has another surprise for her. Is it salsa dancing like Gloria has been asking for? Nope. It’s tickets to see legendary comic David Brenner! Gloria’s not so sure she wants to go see someone just tell jokes. Jay informs her that he doesn’t tell jokes. Brenner’s an observational comic. Gloria asks if he at least has a mallet. When Jay answers in the negative, Gloria is dumbfounded, “How does he get hit in the head if he doesn’t have a mallet? Jay explains that he and Gloria come from different generations. Jay jokes that Gloria thinks Simon and Garfunkel are Jay’s lawyers. When Gloria says she doesn’t get the joke, Jay deadpans “Maybe she’d get it if I had a mallet.” “I wish I had a mallet right now!” Gloria retorts. At the Tucker-Pritchett home, Mitchell is preparing his closing remarks for a big case. Cameron enters and wishes him a Happy Valentine’s Day. When Mitchell doesn’t look up, he says Happy Valentine’s Day for Lily. Mitchell finally looks up to see Lily dressed up as Cupid, complete with large feather wings. Cameron sees that Mitchell is unimpressed. “I spent a lot of time on this,” Cameron tells Mitchell. “I don’t see how. You just cut up one of your feather boas,” Mitchell replies. Mitchell apologizes for his attitude; he’s just very nervous about the case. Plus, it’s not like Lily’s costume is unique — Cameron dresses her up for every holiday. In fact, the last time Mitchell gave Lily a bath, she still had a little bit of Martin Luther King Day behind her ears.

The doorbell rings at Casa Dunphy. Claire opens the door to find Dylan with a large gift for Haley. But first, he gives Claire a rose, stating, “All women should look as tasty as you when they’re old.” Haley bounds downstairs and gets rather excited about her gift, “Yay! It’s big!” She unwraps the gift to reveal a painting of she and a topless Dylan lying together on a bed. Claire, stunned, tells Dylan she didn’t know he was an artist. Oh, he’s not. He just used a computer program that turns a photograph into a painting. Haley suggests she and Dylan go hang the painting above her bed. A horrified Claire insists there is no need for the two of them to be in the bedroom…at all. All Phil is concerned with, however, is whether Dylan’s gift has trumped the one he gave Claire. Phil hand selected a card, drew a heart in the steam on the medicine cabinet mirror and made their annual Fratelli’s reservation….yeah, Dylan trumped him. Phil won’t let the teenager get one over on him though. He asks Claire whether they should scrap the Fratelli’s plans and instead go to a hotel for the night. Claire is intrigued by this idea. “I think you’re not getting any sleep tonight, so take a nap at work,” she coos to her husband. “I always do,” Phil replies. As Phil leaves for work, Claire stops him. Since they’re going to act a little “naughty” this evening, what about if they tried a little role playing, and Phil picks her up in the hotel bar? Although he’s concerned that Claire will be waking a “sexy sweet giant,” Phil agrees, and immediately tries on some characters (with, of course, corresponding stereotypical accents). Like, Reginald Applebee, an English gentleman in town for a polo match. Or what about an honorable businessman from Hong Kong. Claire suggests he just show up at the bar as someone close to himself. “It’s not a big deal, but I train tigers for a living,” Phil attempts once more, with his best (worst?) Siegfried and/or Roy impression. “Now you’re just ruining it,” Claire informs him as Phil hurriedly shuts the front door.

Mitchell comes home from work, slips and nearly kills himself as he comes in his front door. It seems Cameron has another Valentine’s Day surprise and left a bed of rose petals on the floor. Seeing a clearly peeved Mitchell, Cameron asks him what is wrong. “I had to settle,” Mitchel replies. “Your mom may think so, but a lot of people think I’m a catch,” Cameron playfully tries to cheer up his partner. No, Mitchell’s client got scared and settled the case. He had worked for weeks on his closing argument and because of the settlement, he never got to use it. He was going to rail against big government’s abuse of the common man, and, to conclude, point to the state seal and yell, “Shame!” “Oh, that’s what you were doing in the shower. I was a little worried,” a relieved Cameron retorts. There’s a knock on the door. Cameron, hoping Mitchell wouldn’t mind, had agreed to watch Manny so Jay and Gloria could go out. That’s fine by Mitchell; Manny always makes him laugh, and he could use a good one right about now. Cameron opens the door to a forlorn Casanova. “The universe is cold and loveless,” Manny laments. As he pours himself a drink (of sparkling water), Manny tells them his tale of woe. “I went for the gold. Fiona Gunderson.” He wrote her a poem and left it at her desk. He even burned the edges of the paper to make it look fancy! But Ted Dirkus, a kid in his class, said the poem was from him and took Fiona to the poem’s suggested destination, Great Shakes. Cameron will not allow this to stand. They are going to go to Great Shakes so Manny can tell Fiona that he was the one who wrote the poem. Manny’s not so sure; Dirkus will be there. “I’ve seen the kid to a pull up!” Manny worries. He shouldn’t though. Cameron explains that Valentine’s Day is the day you wrestle love, tie it up and take it home. Manny and Fiona will be enjoying a milkshake with two straws before he knows it. “I like it,” Manny replies. The mission is on.

With Gloria and Jay enjoying the comedic stylings of David Brenner, Claire waits in a hotel bar. Up walks Phil…no, Clive Bixby (he even has a name-tag to prove it). Claire introduces herself as Julianna, and asks if Clive is there for work, or whether he just forgets his name a lot. “Oooh, pretty kitty has nails! I like that.” Clive explains that he is in town for a trade show. “I design high-end electro-acoustic transducers.” “Well, that is very…specific,” Julianna replies. “That’s just a fancy way to say I get things to make noise,” Clive purrs. “So, what’s your story? Miss America pageant in town?” “You’re a pretty smooth talker, Clive,” Julianna coos. “I’m pretty smooth all over,” Clive responds while trying to light a cigarette. He is quickly reprimanded by a waitress; smoking is not allowed. “No, I’m not smok….,” Phil stutters. Recovering, Clive warns Julianna that he is married to a very beautiful woman. If she’s so beautiful, why is he here then? “Because she’s always so tired and giving me lists of things to do.” This clearly hits a nerve with Julianna. “Maybe if you did them, she wouldn’t be so tired.” “No, she can make lists for days,” Clive tells her. Claire can’t take it anymore and yells at Phil. No, no, no. Phil isn’t talking about Claire; he’s just in character. They start over. Julianna asks Clive why he’s there if he’s married. “I respect her too much to do the things to her that I’m going to do to you?” Clive/Phil asks. “Jackpot!” Julianna replies. She tells him to wait in the bar; she’ll be right back.

The men on a mission arrive at Great Shakes and identify the target, Fiona. Manny is scared to talk to her with Dirkus at the table, “He has a natural confidence. I admire it and I fear it.” Cameron tells him he will come up with a plan to distract the rival. While Cameron plots, Jay and Gloria are still taking in David Brenner’s show, and loving it. They are laughing so hard, Brenner notices them, and their obvious age difference. “Thank you for bringing your father to the show,” Brenner says to Gloria. “Ha ha. I’m actually her husband, Dave,” Jay informs the comic. “Really? Well then, what is it like to be married to someone who was there when the Bible was written? What was it called then? Just ‘The Testament’?” Brenner jokes. When Jay claps once, Brenner fires again, “Oh now he’s trying to turn out the lights.” That’s enough laughter at his expense, so Jay excuses himself to the bathroom. Back at Great Shakes, Dirkus is informed by the waitress that he has received a phone call. It is Cameron, posing as an executive of the Great Shakes corporation who is offering cash and prizes if Dirkuswill answer a short survey. With Dirkus distracted, Manny goes over to talk with his would-be love. He tells Fiona that he is the one who wrote the poem. When she asks why, he flatters her, “You have a laugh that makes science lab seem like recess.” (This may be the greatest middle school pick-up line ever. Wish I had thought of it.) Dirkus returns to the table, and Manny confronts him over the purloined poem. When Dirkus pushes Manny out of the way, Mitchell comes to the rescue. “Who are you?” Dirkus asks of Mitchell. “I’m a lawyer,” Mitchell replies, straightening his suit. He then launches a diatribe, delivering his unused closing statement to the store. He is sick of the big guy (Dirkus) who thinks he can just roll over the little guy. Well that won’t happen to this little guy, Manny. “Can you stop calling me little guy? I’m in the 40th percentile,” Manny informs his step-brother. Mitchell, unflinching, brings his speech to a head, finally pointing at Dirkus and shouting, “Shame!” Dirkus relents and admits that he stole the poem. But he only did it because although he had the feelings, he didn’t know how to show them. “That’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard,” Fiona replies. Manny can’t believe what’s going on. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Let’s get out of here,” he tells Mitchell. “This chick is crazy.” As they depart, Mitchell tells Cameron how good delivering his speech felt. “Well, Happy Valentine’s Day, Counselor!” an impressed (and undoubtedly turned on) Cameron replies.

Claire returns from the bathroom in her trenchcoat. She tells Phil she has a present for him. “My dress. My bra. My underwear,” she says as she drops the items in his lap. Phil, in a situation he clearly hasn’t been in for a while, can only muster, “This is so much better than cheesy garlic bread!” The two decide to take the rendezvous upstairs to the room. On the escalator, Phil begins to kiss his wife. As she leans over due to his aggressive smooching, she gets the belt of her coat stuck in the escalator stairs. Despite their best efforts, they can’t dislodge the jam. Phil dives for the emergency stop button and brings the escalator to a halt. As other passengers climb the stairs past them, one of Phil’s coworkers sees them. He suggests Claire just take the coat off, but she can’t because….she’s…uh…cold! He offers to help with the jam, and gets down by her feet to try his hand at freeing her. Then, the kids’ principal walks up, and wondering why Claire just doesn’t take off her coat, offers to help as well. Now thoroughly embarrassed, Claire can’t believe her luck when Luke’s math teacher arrives on the scene. “Hello Miss Passwater,” Claire says. “Hehe. Passwater,” Phil giggles.

Outside the club, Gloria tries to find out what is bothering Jay. Everyone was laughing at him because of Brenner’s jokes. But it’s not that he cares what other people think; he cares what Gloria, who was also laughing hard, thinks. He knows she is a lot younger than him, and he’s worried she is going to leave him when he’s in his eighties and is in a wheelchair. Gloria would never leave Jay. Would Jay leave her if she gained a hundred pounds? “….No!” Jay, eventually, replies. “What was with the pause?!?” Gloria asks. It’s not fair, Jay tells her. He can’t help getting old; Gloria doesn’t have to get fat. Oh, she can get fat, Gloria warns. Well, even if she does, Jay will be there. His wife (and his ego) appeased, Jay suggests they leave and go salsa dancing. Gloria happily agrees.

Phil comes running back to the escalator and tells the gathered rescuers that maintenance is on their way to free Claire, so thanks everyone, but they can leave. Once they do, he tells Claire that he just made up maintenance’s impending arrival. “This is the most embarrassing moment of my life,” Claire moans. When she sees Jay and Gloria walking toward them, Claire amends her statement, “Stand by.” Jay, noticing her predicament, asks his daughter why she doesn’t just take the coat off. “What, are you naked under there?” Claire and Phil’s silent response speaks volumes. Gloria says she knows how to save Claire. She takes off her own coat, wraps it around Claire, and presses up against to her. Claire slinks out of her trenchcoat and into Gloria’s. An awestruck (and aroused) Phil can only say, “That was impressive.” “Take it down a notch, Clive,” Jay warns his son-in-law. As the two couples depart and offer their goodbyes, Phil makes the embarrassing scene even more so by dropping Claire’s bra, then her underwear, and tripping over them. This will surely be a Valentine’s Day to remember.

In the episode tag, Claire is driving her Toyota and talking to Phil on the speakerphone. Phil remarks what a great night they had, but he’s sorry he got oil everywhere. Mortified, Claire tells her husband, ‘Remember the salesman told us the Sienna was built with the whole family in mind? Well, the whole family just heard that.” The camera reveals all three kids in utter shock, disbelief and/or bewilderment. “I guess the Bluetooth works,” Phil sheepishly notes. “Why did you have oil?” Luke asks. “Because, buddy, we were…uh…making…french fries!” “In your room?” the always perceptive Alex asks. “Why don’t you guys just pop in a DVD?” Claire says, as the most blatant product placement in the history of the series ends.

Commentary

I know there has been a lot of commentary recently (from me, commenters here, and other TV critics) that perhaps Modern Family has hit a mid-season slump. While still better than most comedies on television, the show has come down off the heights it reached during the beginning of the season. Well, I thought this was the best episode since “Fizbo.” While the Phil/Claire role playing plot offered the most guffaws, the other stories were firing on all cylinders too. I mean, I was even laughing at David Brenner’s jokes! There was just some good old fashioned silliness going on, with very little sentimentality, the exception being Jay and Gloria’s professions that they will always be there for each other. I think this was the first episode (and please correct me if I’m wrong), where there was no “to camera” summation by one of the characters, with treacly music behind it at the end. I do think the series is still effective when it ties up the theme of an episode with Claire or Mitchell or Jay telling us they learned something about themselves or their families at the conclusion of an episode, but it doesn’t have to do it every week. Sometimes it’s enough to just let the funny out into the universe. That’s what we received this week. There were great lines from Manny and Cameron (as always), some fantastic physical comedy from Phil and Claire, and the sole dose of sentimentality mentioned above hit just right. All in all, I thought this was a great episode and look forward to more like it.

What did you think? Does “My Funky Valentine” rank near the top of your Modern Family list? Did you like the lack of a “summary” at the end of the episode? Please drop your comments in the space below. Be sure to check back here at TVOvermind for photos, promos and sneak peeks for next week’s Modern Family, and all of your TV needs. Until next week, I’m off to get a mudslide.

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