Modern Family: Season 1, Episode 5 “Coal Digger” (B+)
The title and sheer premise of this episode are funny enough, and all of the performers just make it so much more worthwhile. The principal’s befuddlement at trying to figure out how Manny and Luke were related was pretty terrific, and just serves to show how tangled up this whole family is. Pitting the comparatively subdued Claire against the very flagrant Gloria is an inspired idea, and their rivalry is truly entertaining. The fact that the always-a-step-behind Phil inserts himself into the middle of the conflict is even better, and his attempts to illicit hugs from both women and in the process serve to anger Claire more than he’s actually helping the situation were highly amusing. Jay really is one gruff guy, as represented by his lack of patience and subsequent silencing of his chatty granddaughter during the game. The fact that the only person he can stand to watch the game with was Cameron was quite a pleasant shock. His description of his past as a football player, supplemented by the deadpan utterance of “Surprise!” was great, as was his additional sarcastic note about Mitchell being a fan of musicals. Jay asking Mitchell and Cameron whether he’s attractive was made even better by Cameron’s pandering, complimentary response. Mitchell’s shared disgust over his father’s topic of conversation with Claire was fun mostly in the way that it served as a reminder that the two are siblings. It offers wonderful potential for the future that this more than healthy-sized family can be mixed and matched in so many sure-to-be-hilarious ways.