Modern Family continues to roll with another great episode, striking just the right balance of comedy and character to keep me enthralled.
The theme of Come Fly With Me is bonding, and aside from Mitchell and Cameron, the families mix up to spend some quality time with the extended family. Each segment has strong points, and they all come together well at the end.
Jay and Phil
Jay's passive-aggressive parenting and Phil's penchant for trying WAY too hard come head to head in this episode, leading to some amusingly awkward moments and some cruelly funny jokes.
Once again, Ed O'Neill's Jay manages to redeem himself in the end with a grudging amount of decency, and Ty Burrell's performance as Phil hits all the right notes. Because his Phil is over-the-top without resorting to outright self-parody, you can still see Phil as a real person and sympathize with his need to find acceptance from his father-in-law, giving the show a real heart without needing to resort to sappiness.
Gloria and Alex
The contrast between how Gloria and Claire treat their children is fun, as Gloria's blunt honesty plays well when combined with Alex's youthful curiosity. I really like Gloria as a character, and her ability to level with Alex and speak to her as a potential adult instead of a disobedient kid was great TV. There's something refreshing about talking straight to a kid about life and sex, and then stopping just short of the steamy details. Great job by the writers on this section.
Manny and Claire
Manny and Claire bring a lot of the comedy to this episode, as Manny's social precociousness mixed with Claire's overprotective and domineering nature to turn their conversation into a parody of "girl talk" scenes. Manny is quickly turning into one of my favorite characters on the show, and seeing him with a milk moustache while discussing "adult" topics had me giggling as if it was the first time I'd ever seen that gag.
Cameron and Mitchell
To be perfectly honest, I liked this segment for its pure comedy, but because of the brilliant Jack in the Box warehouse commercial, it felt like familiar territory for me. The pair were funny as always, but they didn't pull me in like the other three threads did on an emotional or comedic level.
Overall, this wasn't quite as good as the first two episodes (which is fine because the first two were exceptional), but stayed on track to make Modern Family the runaway best new comedy of the year. If this is the worst episode of the season, I'll be happy - half of the episode had me laughing hard, and that's better than most of the comedies out there these days.