Friday, February 10, 2012

Happy Family Jules: More Than Words

After three long weeks, we have two reasons to celebrate: 1) Modern Family and Happy Endings were finally new this week; and 2) this is the last week in which Happy Family Jules is Jules-less because COUGAR TOWN PREMIERES NEXT WEEK! Things are about to get crazy around these parts, and that's exactly the way I like them.

So before I go rearranging your kitchen for you (and, yes, it needs fixing), let's talk about this week's new episodes...

Modern Family
Season 3, Episode 14: "Me? Jealous?"
Phil works hard to entice prospective client Tad (played by Greg Kinnear), who loves kissing Claire on the mouth, and Haley is forced to volunteer for Big Brother Big Sister. Meanwhile, the Pritchett house gets a little too crowded when Cam, Mitchell and Lily temporarily move in: Jay embarrasses Mitchell in front of his shock jock client, Cam and Gloria pile on misunderstandings and Manny is stuck in the middle trying to fix it all.

Cam and Gloria are a pretty tried and true pairing on the show, and this week was no exception. I've heard complaints that Cam gets worked up about perceived insults too often, but that is just part of his character. His reaction to Gloria and Lily's matching leopard jackets, as well as Gloria's quiet rage about the rearranged kitchen, climaxed brilliantly with their kitchen rhumba. The more choreography Eric Stonestreet and Sophia Vergara get to do together, the better.

The Phil/Claire/Tad storyline was predictable and a little flat, but Ty Burrell really sold it in the end when he finally got incensed about Tad's flirtations, even if it was too late. "Only I can take her to bed... comma... and make her laugh."

As for the Dunphy kids... the Big Sister thing felt a bit forced, but, if I'm being honest, any Haley story is fine by me. We often deal with the Haley-Alex dynamic, so it was nice to see the way their bickering affects Luke and to see the sisters team up to torture him in the form of Betty Luke. Poor kid.

It probably sounds like I didn't enjoy the episode, but I actually laughed quite a bit. When a show is a two-time Best Comedy winner, though, I think it's okay to be a little nitpicky.

Best lines of the night? Here we go...
"This guy's flipping properties like they're extras in a kung fu movie!" - Phil, who tries desperately to turn handshakes into hugs.

"My grandma Betsy's secret recipe, given to her by her housekeeper Delilah who raised her and was her best friend. Kinda like The Help, except Delilah was white and was actually herself quite the racist. Eat up!" - Cam, who cheers up when given a leopard print apron.

"I get the sense that I'm losing you. Could I talk to Grandma Groupy?" - Mitchell, who could learn a thing or two from Manny's "friend" Danielle.

"And if you think about it, he is kind of our little sister." - Mrs. Haley Jonas Brothers.

"You can kiss my wife, you can take her to bed, but you can't make her laugh! ... I wanna go back." - Phil, who believes Costa Rica has a progressive culture (most of them travel by zipline).
Happy Endings
Season 2, Episode 13: "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre"
It's Valentine's Day in Chicago, and everyone's plans fall through. When Penny refuses to breakup with Reed because they're in The Breakup Window, Dave becomes concerned that Lindsey is doing the same to him. Brad has the perfect date planned for Jane, but ends up drugged out of his mind after a disastrous dentist appointment. Alex is inspired by the story of St. Valentine to find true love and Max just plans on driving everyone around when he accidentally runs into his ex-boyfriend Grant (played by James Wolk).

I've already written about how very happy the Max/Grant story made me, and I'm still reeling over what a perfect moment that was. The show has taken pride in the fact that Max is not the "typical" gay man, and where characterizations like that really pay off are when they can show him being romantic and sweet and it comes off in a completely natural way. Max isn't the way he is because he's gay, he's that way because he's Max and his struggles/triumphs in love are treated no differently than Penny's or Dave's or Alex's.

I absolutely loved Brad and Jane this week. From the failed surprises to Brad's Gene Kelly-esque entrance into the dentist office and the subsequent drugged-out meltdown are just two more examples of why Damon Wayans, Jr. should be a no-brainer in this year's Emmy race. And I certainly rewound over and over again to watch both of Jane's violent reactions to surprises.

The Dave and Penny stories didn't thrill me as much—they both crossed the line a little too far into unlikable territory—but each had enough funny moments ("gots to start with the scrimp, son" and "hysterecto" to name a few) that I didn't particularly mind. Alex, on the other hand, was totally fantastic playing up her obsession with St. Valentine and his brutal massacre. This is a completely different girl than last season and I hope New Alex sticks around for good.

There were a lot of candidates for the best lines, but I whittled down as best I could...
"VD Sexxxx! Boom! Boom!" - Dave, whose first email address was

"Totally my fault that you hit me in the face." - Brad, who got a plaque for not having any plaque.

"JFK once called her a 'real Chicago slut'." - Jane, who could've used a heads up for Brad's list of upcoming surprises.

"Who doesn't? It's two men playing acoustic guitar at each other!" - Max, unashamed to love Extreme's "More Than Words."

"Sorry, Pen, but I'm on a love mission courtesy of St. Valentine. And even though his mission ended in a beating so savage that two of his tormentors committed suicide at the scene, I'm hoping for a different outcome. Byee!" - Alex, who thinks "Vienna Beef presents National Hot Dog Day" is a real holiday.

"Great. Another guy you know. I feel like I'm always swimming upstream against a steady stream of your ex-boyfriends. It's like I'm a gay salmon fighting for my life in a river of bears." - Grant's boyfriend Clark, who totally takes Grant for granted!

"And then he said he hates when I say 'a-MAH-zing,' but I've barely said that at all this season!" - Penny (it's more of a summer word).
What did you think of this week's episodes? Are you still gooey from Max and Grant's romantic date? Are you determined to dance while making dinner from now on? And how excited are you for the full Happy Family Jules lineup next week?!

[Image Source: ABC]
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