Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Family Jules: Express Christmas


We are steadily approaching TV's annual holiday hiatus, which means we will all have plenty of time to catch up on shows we've been meaning to watch—ahem, Revenge—and have some good ol' fashioned marathons with the DVDs we get for the holidays—ahem, Harry Potter 8-disc Blu Ray collection. Of course, before any of that happens, our favorite shows have one last chance to bid 2011 adieu, and what better way than with a holiday episode?

So ho-ho-hold on to your hats... let's talk about last night's Christmas-centric episodes of Modern Family and Happy Endings...

Modern Family
Season 3, Episode 10: "Express Christmas"
After discovering that they will all be in different places on Christmas, the Dunphy-Pritchett-Tucker-Delgado clan decides to have a last-minute Express Christmas™. Phil and Manny, who is terrified of being kidnapped during his upcoming Mexican vacation thanks to Luke, go to get the turkey and buy a rare baseball card for Jay; Claire and Haley tackle the gift shopping; Mitchell and Alex go to get the tree; Gloria and Luke are in charge of finding the tree-topping angel in the attic; and Cam attempts to get Jay to open up to him.

Now in its third season, Modern Family is no stranger to holiday-themed episodes—heck, this episode immediately followed a Thanksgiving episode—but what made this feel fresh was all the new pairings the writers played with. I could watch Gloria and Luke together all day long, and the dorky combo of Mitchell and Alex certainly is ripe for some great comedy. And it's no surprise that Jay has just as many issues showing emotion to Cam as he does Phil, but seeing the different approach Cam takes to the situation was fantastic.

In other news, Sarah Hyland is having a pretty fantastic season: the college visit, the truck ride with Cam, last week's fender bender and now this week's Target shopping spree have all provided sizable laughs from Haley. If any of the "kids" in the cast have a chance at an Emmy nomination, I'd put my money on her. The sequence of her unbuttoning her top to seduce the guy with the nightlight, realizing he was gay, running away and returning in a Target employee uniform was one of the best moments of the episode.

It's also worth noting that this is the second week in a row Ty Burrell has been the victim of electric shocks—hilarious, for sure, but we can probably go a season or so before it happens again, right?

On to the best lines of the night:
"A little too free with the free verse, but, fine, we'll call it a poem." - Manny, whose name isn't Butterball.

"I studied, I read stuff. What was the point of that?!" - Haley, who has to remind Claire it's not Fake Mother's Day.

"On Dasher! On Dancer! On Prancer and Vixen! Hey, that kinda worked out!" - Phil, after pointing to Claire, Mitchell, Cam and Gloria. Perfect.

"Listen to me. Your whole life has led to this moment. All the training, the hours of dedication. There isn't a soul alive who can touch you when it comes to shopping and, baby, you know it. Look at me. Be you." - Claire, who had to test out a futon mid-shopping (it's a young woman's game).

"Based on those stains, you are the Christmas sweater." - Jay, who agrees to let Cam hug him for 45 4 to 5 seconds.

"Never look back. Never!" - Gloria, who just figure out that "loook" and "Luuuke" sound very similar.
Happy Endings
Season 2, Episode 9: "Grinches Be Crazy"
It's Christmas in Chicago! Max agrees to play Santa at Penny's charity event and Dave finally cashes in years' worth of "Christmas coupons" from Alex. Meanwhile, Jane accidentally mixes up her and Brad's Turks and Caicos vacation money with the year-end bonus for their housekeeper, Gita.

What Modern Family achieved by mixing up the usual pairings, Happy Endings achieved by giving us the expected ones. It is pretty much scientific fact at this point that when paired off into Brad/Jane, Max/Penny and Dave/Alex, the show produces marvelous results. That's not to say the entire cast doesn't have chemistry together, mind you, but those three pairings are the show's strongest for sure.

I know that I probably should've groaned when Alex and Dave had their kiss at the end of the episode, but I actually found myself cheering them on. After the first two or three episodes of Season 1, the show has been careful to avoid making the driving force of the plot a will-they-won't-they between these two, even though the pilot and premise of the show was based on their disaster of a non-wedding. Without constantly being reminded of any sort of sexual (or other) tension between them, it's a nice and welcome surprise when we slowly progress their relationship, if one exists at all. Think about it: we are almost halfway through Season 2, and this is probably only the third or fourth time we've had a moment in which the possibility of Dave and Alex getting back together has been acknowledged. There are enough Ross/Rachel, Jim/Pam, Jess/Nick relationships on TV, and I'm happy that Happy Endings isn't turning Dave/Alex into one of them. Let them kiss—and let them get back together if it's right for the characters—but keep the focus on the group and how a-mah-zing they are together.

Yup, that was quite a dissertation. Let's get to the best lines...
"I would be an awesome Santa. I have a giant lap and I happen to look awesome in a chunky." - Max, who looks okay/chunky in a chunky belt.

"Please don't say 'va-cay-cay,' n'kay kay?" - Brad, who loves Indecent Proposal-ing with Jane.

"Admit it. It's an empty gesture like an e-card or a formal apology after an anti-Semitic rant." - Dave, who didn't get enough credit for turning "Turks and Caicos" into "Jerks and Bacos."

"What? 'Lady'?! I'm 30… okay, that's basically mid- to late twenties!" - Penny, who'd rather be surprised by a disappointment than happy with what she expected (it's why she never asks if a pool is heated).

"I love you, too, you little freak gingy." - Max, who does a killer donkey kick.
What did you think of this week's episodes? Did they get you in the holiday spirit? Are you sad to say goodbye to these two shows for a few weeks? And what do you plan to do during the holiday hiatus? See you in the comments!

[Image Source: ABC]
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