I do believe I've said this before, but I love the laid-back ease of Modern Family. Nothing ever feels forced, even when it's a hilarious, off-the-wall story involving the bassist from one-hit wonders Spandau Ballet. Not even halfway through the premiere season, the series has already hit a very comfortable third season groove. "Great Expectations" was another genial snapshot of this clan's life, with laughs coming from the real and the ridiculous.
Two-thirds of Wednesday night's episode was pretty standard fare, but it was executed with great comedic confidence. Jay had all of the grandkids visiting for the traditional "Jay's Night." The story of Haley wanting to leave the night of Sloppy Jay's and western movies to go to a party instead was not exactly a new idea, and only to a small extent was this a problem. The plotline made Haley's character whiny and one-dimensional, but it opened us up to another view of Jay. Initially he was just the grumpy old coot, but every episode has brought out something new. This week, we got to see the experienced father/grandfather outsmart the know-it-all teenager. Again, it was the ease and confidence of Ed O'Neil's performance that really made the bits shine above what could have just been viewed as clichÃ©.
The movie night also showed us, in small portions, how much the series has to work with among the kid characters. Manny continues to get big laughs with the smallest lines, and even his subtle jealous looks. Alex, though just a brainy type in earlier episodes, is coming through as a sarcastic, manipulatively funny middle child. Only Luke and Haley have yet to move beyond their dumb kid and bratty kid personas, but they continue to show that the potential for more is there.
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