‘Modern Family’ Review: “A Slight at the Opera”
While Cam readies the school play, Claire is on babysitting duty and Jay tries to teach Phil how to golf so he can be a better real estate agent (yeah, we don't know, either) in this week's 'Modern Family.'
This week's episode features a whole lot of plays, from the obvious ones like the school production of 'Phantom of the Opera' and an enlightening game of golf, to Haley and her boyfriend building a fake life as parents and watching it fall apart in the span of an afternoon.
Nathan Lane is back as Pepper and he looks like he was born to wear golf gear as he joins Mitch on the green while Jay tries to teach Phil how to golf. The outing teaches everyone a lesson -- Mitch, intent on proving to Jay that he is capable of participating in sports after years of being ridiculed by his father as a child, proves to be quite the golfer; meanwhile, the same ridicule Jay inflicted on Mitch actually works on Phil, who uses the harsh words as fuel to try harder. Mitch and Jay bond, but everything really comes together with the hilarious use of Cat Stevens' "Cats in the Cradle," which reduces all the men to tears.
Drama comes to the drama department (surprise) when the lead of their production of 'Phantom of the Opera' takes ill, but in a serendipitous moment, Cam discovers that Luke has an incredible singing voice and gets Manny to convince him to give up set-painting duty to join the play. Cam is freaking out because the school newspaper critic who is, like, 11 and known for giving harsh reviews, is on hand to document the dress rehearsal before opening night. Pairing Cam and Manny together is brilliant -- Cam postures himself as if this school play were the real deal, which is the perfect mirror of someone like Manny, whose maturity has always been dramatically high for his age. Both of them titter about like neurotic perfectionists, with their comedic timing bouncing off of each other just right.
Meanwhile, Claire is hung up on how careless Phil is because, yet again, he's shoved items in the freezer and a frozen turkey almost fell on her foot. With Haley and her boyfriend proving to be great stand-in babysitters, Claire is free to neurotically dwell on Phil's thoughtlessness and plan revenge, but while she's trying to concoct the perfect example of how Phil's ignorance could affect the household, Haley and her boyfriend are realizing that parenting Lilly and Fulgencio is actually really fun and easy... until it's not. A suggestion to go out for ice cream snowballs into finger-pointing as Haley worries that she's not being appreciated and her boyfriend's attention isn't where it should be. It's not nearly as dramatic as it sounds, instead satirizing the idea of kids playing house and how even pretend responsibility is too daunting.
Gloria and Alex are stuck running errands for the play when Alex tells Gloria she doesn't believe in mystic stuff, like psychics, so Gloria drags her to a fortuneteller and Alex tries to outwit the psychic by feeding her false info so she can prove Gloria wrong. But when the psychic tells Gloria that her dead grandmother is looking down upon her and her new son, Alex can't bring herself to discredit the woman who is comforting her aunt. Their plot is the weak link this week, leaving little comedy and instead offering a precious moment that could have easily been scrapped in favor of fleshing out the Haley pretend-parent arc.