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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 6.6 - Halloween 3: Awesomeland





Traditionally, episodes with "3" in the title do not inspire confidence, generally proving to be boring and uninspired, or downright awful. Recall last year's example, How I Met Your Mother's "Slapsgiving 3", which could easily have been called "let's run around slapping each other in yellowface in order to avoid moving forward more than ten minutes in the timeline". Regardless, we shall soldier on together - and remember, drinking your way through an episode with "3" in the title is always acceptable.

Cam runs in joyously in a Superman outfit, but Mitchell is in no mood to celebrate, as he's lost three cases in a row and has a crucial closing argument coming up. Cam offers to help, but Mitchell's work bores him and his own suggestions are awful. Lily has dressed up as Waldo of "Where's Waldo", which she is going to enter into a costume contest. However, Cam is taking the contest a wee bit more seriously than she is. Also, he can never find Waldo, a constant source of amusement to Lily and Mitch. Opening credits.

Gloria is dressing up as Princess Fiona from Shrek, which Jay completely approves of until he learns that he has to dress as the ogre. They argue for a while about "Beauty and the Beast" stuff. Over at the Dunphys', Alex is misunderstood once again, Claire is annoyed at having to work on Halloween, and Phil is left in charge of the decorations. However, he dislikes all things scary, so he's turning the house into "AwesomeLand", which consists of all the things Phil Dunphy finds awesome. As Claire points out, that's a lot of things.

Mitchell is all set to deliver a kickass closing argument, but is interrupted when the court reporter shows up in a giant, distracting spider costume, complete with giant furry legs. Giggling occurs, Mitchell fumbles, and the case goes down the tubes.

Jay is not going to go with the Shrek costume, but he's perfectly okay with sticking to the Shrek theme, so he changes to the douchey Prince Charming instea. Stella is Puss in Boots and Joe will be Donkey. Gloria is won over by all the effort he's gone to, and rewards him with a "special nap". Phil's decorations get more and more elaborate, but less and less Halloween-y. The neighbours, Ronnie and Amber, taunt them for being sissies. They also point out that there's a contest going on for the scariest yard, and that they're probably going to win. It's on, if Claire can ever take that disgusted look off her face. Full of ideas, Claire decides to skip work and recruits the kids to help her out. By the way, Haley makes a fantastic sexy firefighter.

Meanwhile, Cam and Lily are taken aback when they find out that the costume contest is parent-child - and their costumes are completely unrelated. Lily suggests he dress as "Wizard Whitebeard" from the Waldo series. Cam makes a completely inappropriate joke, then heads off in search of a costume.

Jay is taken with his Prince Charming wig, as he hasn't had hair in decades. Claire has changed AwesomeLand into a haunted insane asylum, with the help of three reluctant kids, and Phil is devastated. He rightly retorts that they shouldn't care what the neighbours think, but Claire is insistent. The last straw is when she reveals that she's destroyed his favourite stuffed bunny. Seriously, this could put an end to the Dunphy marriage.

Cam shows up in costume to find that the parade's not until after school, and he can't attend due to football practice. He tries to tell Lily, but guess what - he can't find Waldo. Fortunately, a quick Skype with Mitch reveals her location immediately. When Mitchell tries to tell his husband about his own problems, Cam hangs up. Lily's upset that her dad can't attend, and when Cam tries to comfort her, he discovers that he's lost her in the crowd again.

At the Delgado-Pritchetts', Jay has lost his wig and Manny is obsessed with the perfect costume for his last year of trick-or-treating (ummm, shouldn't that have been like five years ago?). Gloria found the dog playing with the wig earlier, so it appears to be gone forever.

The former AwesomeLand has become a full-fledged haunted asylum, with the kids as patients and Claire as a sadistic nurse. I'm mostly impressed that she managed to come up with all that hospital gear on such short notice. Are they running an illegal clinic out of their basement, or what? Claire keeps yammering on about winning, but Phil couldn't give two shits and insists on wearing his AwesomeLand costume, rather than being a demented doctor. Amber comes over, terribly upset, because though she thought they were becoming friends, she now believes that their insane asylum is a jab at her own time in a mental institution. Well. That got dark fast. Or else it's a set-up. Yeah, totally a set-up.

Mitch continues to flail around in court, before finally approaching the bench to complain about the court reporter's costume. The judge asks her to remove it, but this backfires, as the jury immediately dismisses Mitchell as "no fun". His opposing counsel taunts him, because apparently this family only runs into complete jerks in their day-to-day life. Mitchell attempts to salvage the situation with a Groucho mask, but it fails, and he loses the case.

Phil has brought back AwesomeLand, which includes Alex dressed as the lead from Working Girl, and Luke dressed as a puppy sitting in a pen full of puppies. (Okay, now I want to do Halloween at the Dunphy house.) Claire, dressed as a cheerleader, is extraordinarily sullen. Phil tries to cheer her up, but her day has just been irredeemably bad. Alex attributes this to Claire's need to prove that she has "edge". Claire realizes that this is right.

The Delgado-Pritchetts go trick-or-treating, but Jay is upset that, sans wig, everyone keeps mistaking him for Benjamin Franklin. He meets a guy dressed as a doctor, who suggests that he get hair plugs to feel better about himself. Gloria is horrified. She tells him that he's been bald their whole marriage, and she loves him the way he is - especially when he's happy. However, she also thinks he looks like Ben Franklin, so there's that.

Bitter over his case, Mitchell stays at home being nasty to trick-or-treaters. Lily is also at home, because Cam got caught up at football practice and someone has to be home with the candy. When he does arrive, Lily snaps at him for neglecting her in favour of work. Granted, the kid has a point, but Mitchell seizes the moment to make up yet another legal case, citing everything Cam has done for her to make Halloween special. Which is nice and all, but come on, he could have called. Furthermore, Lily never gave Cam the flyer about the parade. The two of them apologize, and Mitch has his first win in a long time.

The Dunphys go next door to apologize to Ronnie and Amber, who are all over their Haunted House of Whores theme (no, really). Of course, it was all a set-up and they gloat over having outwitted Claire. She vows her revenge, Ronnie and Amber declare her to be "scary", and the vendetta is on. Honestly, I'm Team Neighbours on this one, because Claire reminds me of that one neighbour we've all had whose constantly snitching on anyone who dares to make her surroundings less than perfect.

Tag scene: Cam complains about the writers of "Where's Waldo", though Lily can easily find the elusive figure. Meanwhile, Jay is frustrated that Stella has destroyed his wig and made it look like Rod Stewart's hair. Phil and Claire roleplay in the bedroom, with Claire taking on the role of Tess from "Working Girl" - which is really creepy when you remember that Alex was wearing it a few hours ago.

The episode is dedicated to Elizabeth Pena, who played Gloria's mother and who died a little while ago.

Okay, so - it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Mitchell's plot was a little ridiculous (what court would permit that kind of costume?), as was shoehorning it onto Cam and Lily's, but it had its moments. Cam and Lily, meanwhile, had some really good moments together. It's nice to see the guys treated as parents rather than as just the token gay couple, which they've unfortunately fallen into many times over the past few seasons. Jay was filler, and repetitive at that - how many times are we going to have the Gloria-is-hot-Jay-is-insecure story? Claire's plot, I'm of two minds about. I liked AwesomeLand for all its weirdness, and I really enjoy the new neighbours, but I'm getting really tired of Claire. Over the past few years, her driven personality has turned into true rudeness, and it's quite annoying. Ronnie and Amber saved it. Hell, they should get a spinoff. Overall, I liked how well Halloween was woven into each plot, but sometimes the plots themselves left something to be desired. As an episode with "3" in the title, it was fine. For Modern Family Season 6, it was fine. It's worth checking out if you're flipping channels, but definitely not one of their classics.

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