‘Modern Family’ – ‘Dude Ranch’/’When Good Kids Go Bad’: Let’s hear it for the boy

A quick review of the “Modern Family” season-opening double-feature coming up just as soon as I practice my pancake-eating…

As I’ve said before, at this point the things I like and don’t like about “Modern Family” are so well-established and consistent that there’s no point to me doing weekly reviews of it, and that I’ll only check in when there’s something particularly notable (good, bad or in-between) about an episode. In this case, we have two episodes, one shot on location in Jackson Hole, and both airing only days after the show won its second straight Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, so let’s chat about it briefly.

Sitcom vacation episodes, as a rule, tend to not be very good. There have been exceptions – one of them the Hawaii episode from this show’s first season – but “Dude Ranch” was unfortunately not one of them. As with most of these kinds of episodes, you got the sense that everyone was so excited to go to such a beautiful location that not as much effort was put into making this as strong an outing as possible. There were some funny subplots involving Alex getting her first kiss, and Luke(*) viewing his lone firecracker as some kind of super-nuke (“Soon, the living will envy the dead”), but the adult stories were much less memorable than the scenery in which they took place.

(*) Between what he did last season and these two episodes, I am now totally on board the “Nolan Gould as stealth MVP” train. Once the writers decided that Luke wasn’t dumb, just different, he became one of the show’s best, funniest characters, and he was the highlight of both episodes.  

“When Good Kids Go Bad” was back on the show’s home turf, and the stronger of the two, but not a superior “Modern Family” overall. Claire remains extremely unpleasant for me to watch, especially in a story like this one where she’s frustrated the whole time, and I’m in general not a big fan of comedy stories built around characters lying or keeping secrets until the most mortifying moment possible. That said, the final scene at Cam and Mitchell’s house was kind of terrific. Even though I hadn’t liked what came before, I liked the way all the confrontations and arguments piled on top of each other and interlocked, as we learned just how the neuroses of the three original members of the Pritchett clan came to be. And Cam not being able to help himself and unfurling the whole “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” celebration as soon as Mitchell blurted out the big news was perfectly-timed.

So not among my favorites from the series, but enough good material in each episode to serve as a reminder of why this is one of TV’s better comedies.

What did everybody else think?