Modern Family: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Bicycle Thief” (B+)
It’s important to remember that a great show can’t necessarily be the funniest thing ever each week. The pilot was terrific and extraordinarily well-received by nearly all audiences. This episode isn’t as fantastic or funny, sure, but it’s still great, and it’s a strong sign that the show has potential and can be entertaining, if not as hilarious, week-to-week. Mitchell and Cameron seem to have a stereotypical storyline in store for them every episode, overreacting to a situation where they think people will judge them because they’re gay when really that’s the farthest thing from the truth. Mitchell stealing a neighboring kid’s blocks before realizing his actions will be caught on tape was fun, and the ultimate surprise arrival of the very flamboyantly-dressed gay couple at the end was a nice resolution for that plotline. I worry that they may be condemned to this kind of behavior each week, and I hope I’m wrong since it will get old after a while. Jay and Manny’s dynamic doesn’t provide much in the way of laughs, but it’s good for the show to have a consistent dramatic subplot to ground it when it gets too preposterous. Jay’s racism continues to be one of the funniest parts of this show, and his Superman comment was the funniest line of the episode. The standout performer in this episode is the same as last week’s – Ty Burrell as father Phil. It’s refreshing to see Burrell find a stable role in which he excels after seeing him squandered in trash like “Out of Practice” and “Back to You.” His bicycle trick was great, and he really makes the most out of what could be a subpar plot. His foolhardy attempts to cover his furious wife’s eyes when the street slut came by with a third duplicate bike was almost the highlight of his storyline, until he started getting chased by some kids angry that he stole their bike. This is a show with a future, and I’m really enjoying what I’ve seen so far.