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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 5.2 - First Days


crazyforkate

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blog-modernfamily3.jpgmodernfamily3

 

Welcome back to the rest of the Modern Family double premiere. Let's continue without further ado.

Well, Modern Family has been on the air for five years now, and the kids are growing up. Luke's voice is deep and he's gotten tall and STOP GETTING OLD, kid. Everyone's starting school today, but most importantly, Claire has finished her 20-year tenure as a stay-at-home mom, beginning work at her dad's closet company. Phil encourages her, but still seems to think that she's in charge of the house. He also suggests that she use Christopher Walken impressions to get ahead. Haley, meanwhile, thinks working for your family is so totally not a "real" job. Alex is going insane with the pressure of junior year, while Haley thinks she would be a lot better off if she was sexually active. Meanwhile, Haley has no illusions about the rigors of community college. Why this is not a cross-network crossover with Community is beyond me.

Meanwhile, Cam gets an urgent phone call asking him to come in. It seems really dire - until he tells us that he's gone from music teacher to substitute teacher, and has just been called in for the day. He compares himself to batman. Phew, don't get too excited there. Meanwhile, Mitchell is having boss problems and doesn't know what to do. He tells Lily to get ready for school, but she's been waiting for an hour. He makes a racist remark about Asians and the credits come up. Hooray for ABC sitcoms and their sensitivity.

Phil gives Luke advice about his first day of high school, which is of course totally inaccurate and will probably result in Luke getting his ass kicked. When Luke won't let him walk him to his class, Phil almost starts to cry. Oh, get a fucking grip, buddy. Alex barely looks up from her book. A few feet behind him, Gloria tries to reassure Manny about high school, but he has confidence to spare. After a summer in Colombia, he has decided that he is inordinately sophisticated (which he apparently didn't think before?). Spying Gloria, a teenaged boy asks for a hug. Fortunately, she is saved by Phil. After talking about their kids, they decide to go for coffee - to the consternation of the boy, who thought he had a shot.

Jay is talking to a client at work when Claire walks in, clearly extremely nervous and unsure of herself. He tells her to relax and assures her she'll be great, though he immediately dismisses her thoughtful cookie-baking ways. He advises her to be tough, distant management.

Mitchell drops off his first grader, who promptly runs into the wall, proving she might not be the brightest of the bunch. Still cute, though.

Cameron arrives at the school to find out he's covering a "sudden case of rehab" and could have a permanent position if he impresses the administration. Immediately he turns on the charm, which the principal seems able to tolerate in small doses. Advice, Cam? Back off. He explains that even though he wanted the job - he sucks at history. (And everything else scholastic, Mitch points out, though they're still newly engaged so he gets away with it.)

Claire is determined to oppose her father's strict style, but the workers do not seem impressed by her friendliness. She takes it in stride, despite several faux pas, and ends up scarily resembling Phil. Maybe you should imitate your dad a bit?

Phil and Gloria find that the coffee shop is closed to shoot a commercial. Incredibly, they get asked to be extras. Dunphys and Pritchetts go Hollywood?

Cam tries to brush up on the lesson so he won't humiliate himself, but decides it lacks drama - so he shows up to class (Alex's class, of course) in full Revolutionary War garb, talking like a bad imitation of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The question "Are you here to sell your beavers?" actually happens. The students look like they want to die. I can't say I blame them. Alex keeps trying to tell everyone she has no idea who the guy is. On top of that, Cam has the lesson wrong - they're talking about Native Americans prior to colonization. After Cam pretty much murders any pretence at racial sensitivity, including a Village People joke, the class takes him to town, with Alex leading them.

Mitchell's stupid boss shows up, demanding he cover an impossible amount of material in half an hour, or else the building will collapse (it makes sense in context). Lily is also hanging out there - I guess it's after school - and making things more complicated. Just as he's about to launch into business stuff, Haley shows up to collect Lily. And the boss starts hitting on her. No, I'm not kidding, this happens. I guess she's a grown-ass woman and everything, but still? It's creepy. They're both kinda dumb and kinda vain, and he's wealthy, so clearly it's going ahead.

Jay has heard about Claire's friendly attempts, and calls her into his office, where he gives her a quick lesson in workplace politics. Claire is now officially the office weirdo, and considered dumb too. Far from the triumph she hoped for, she is now on thin ice.

The commercial is also not going well. Despite being told to act normal, Phil and Gloria can't resist hamming it up and distracting from the main actors. When the director tries to bring them down, it just encourages them.

Back at school, Alex is teaching the lesson, while Cam is awed by the things that he should have known already. After class is dismissed, he takes Alex aside to thank her. She is horrified at the prospect of having him as a permanent teacher and tells him so. She has to have perfect transcripts, and if he fucks it up he's dead. He promises he will get her through. Neither is convinced.

Claire has promised to go to lunch with Todd the former office weirdo, and it's turning out to be a doozy, as he tells her about the process of sexing turtles (no, it's not what you think it is). When he hears that Phil's a realtor, he mentions that he's buying a house. Claire, however, knows he's about to get fired, and when she hears that his wife's a humanities graduate student, it's all she can do not to say something. She tries to hint instead. It doesn't work too well.

A million takes later, Gloria and Phil are still lagging at the acting game. Phil advises her to draw inspiration from her own life. They talk about their day, which leads into a discussion of how it's time to let the kids grow up. The camera rolls again, and they're still distracting from the main actors - especially since they're both in tears. Phil's especially sad, because Henry Winkler's in it and he can't imagine the Fonz seeing him like this.

Instead of having a meeting with Mitch, the boss is "discussing fashion" with Haley, severely trying Mitchell's patience. He winds up inviting her to Cabo, and just as they're about to discuss the sleeping arrangements, Mitchell shuts that down with a giant rant about the guy's mid-life crisis. He gets precisely nowhere, as the building starts to creak...

Cam goes to the principal to resign, saying that these hardworking students deserve better. However, the principal's a little busy - he's coaching a football practice because the coach just quit. Cam gives him some pointers, winds up taking over the practice, and before you can say "championship" he's got a gym teacher/coaching job, full Revolutionary War costume and all.

Claire tells her dad that lunch with Todd was kind of good, except for this one delicate situation. However, she's interrupted with the news that the whole computer system's down. That's right, Todd figured out what was about to happen, got pissy and locked the company out before flying the coop. Jay soon finds out what happened between Claire and Todd. We cut to the end of the school day before seeing the inevitable explosion. Cam narrates about success and how it's not guaranteed, but you should give it your all. Manny has apparently had a rough day, Cam is a football god, Luke's made a friend. Alex is buried in books. Claire is late at work, having been stuck with piles of data entry. Cam is pushed forward on one of those football field mowing things, recreating a certain famous painting in American history, all while getting his Presidents mixed up.

Tag scene: Jay works hard, all day, while devouring the entire plate of Claire's cookies.

Well, fun episode, good view of the family. I'm glad we shared it with the proposal one though, because that was awesome (and tough to follow). Maybe Season 5 will be a step up from last year, which was rather dismal. In the meantime, the characters are shaping up very nicely. They may not be Best Comedy in the eyes of many, but they're pretty darn good so far.

 

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