If you've tracked my work on this site (and I know you have), then it will come as no surprise to you when I admit that I've been a bit harsh on this season of Modern Family. In my defense, there's a not-so-fine line between art and propaganda that they've obliterated this year, but I don't want to dwell on that in this post.
Instead, I'd like to focus on what makes Modern Family great: the subtle things. One scene from this episode illustrates the subtlety superbly. Phil is cleaning out a gutter with some robot gizmo and kills a nest of birds.
It is what ensues in the rest of the episode that is simply brilliant. A Hitchcockian shot of Phil fleaing into his house as the birds in his yard gather. And the lines... Oh, the lines that they weave into various scenes around Phil throughout the episode:
- "I did something awful to a bunch of baby crows." "Actually, it's not a bunch of crows. It's a murder." "I know what I did!"
- "It's like they are already acting like they have empty nest syndrome"
- "My sister, here, seems to think you all have to walk on egg shells around me."
- "It made me feel like Ann-Margaret in Bye Bye Birdie."
It's the last one that's the kicker for me. Working an old movie reference in was sheer brilliance. It's why Modern Family reached 100 episodes on Wednesday and why I expect another 100 more.