Modern Family Review: "Truth Be Told" (1.17)

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Modern Family Review: "Truth Be Told" (1.17)

While some of my complaints from last week’s extremely disappointing episode of Modern Family returned for “Truth Be Told,” this week’s episode had a real change. I should note here that a show doesn’t have to have characters and their relationships constantly changing to be interesting. The Simpsons was the strongest show on television for most of its first decade and every episode began right back where they started at; likewise Arrested Development would never do more than hint that change was possible while always returning things to status quo. But it takes some pretty brilliant joke writers and more than a little bit of luck to pull that off.

Stray Observations:
-Lily's duck hat is certainly, well, a duck hat.
"You’re doing that thing where you say what I want you to say but your tone seems mean."
"Go around, we’re recreating a faux-pas."
-Shel Turtle-stein.
"I’m Colombian, I know a fake crime-scene when I see one."
-Flyza Minelli
"Ok, I know the pain is fresh, but the lie is really old."
-Zsa-zsa Gaboa
-Seriously, where’s my resolution? The business with Phil can kill real marriages, here it seems totally forgotten at the end of the episode. That being said, someone pining after Phil? Suspension of disbelief having some trouble here...

What happened in “Truth Be Told” is that, after very likely being overheard complaining about his job by his boss, Mitchell quits when he’s told that he needs to work through an entire weekend. There’s really nothing else to this plotline, but it completely blows up the nice, quiet life that Mitchell, Cam and Lilly have been counting on and changes the possibilities for what the show might offer. Even if this story’s thread wasn’t particularly strong, I ended up looking forward to seeing where Modern Family takes this from here on out. The show made the decision that it was not going to always play it safe, and for that choice I couldn’t be happier—it’s clear that Modern Family, without even a season under its belt,would need to shake things up sooner rather than later, or risk drifting gradually into mediocrity.

And, while they didn’t break any new ground, the show’s less revolutionary plots were still pretty good, if perhaps not as funny as they’ve been in the past. Phil meets up with an ex-girlfriend who’s been stalking him on Facebook, and has her visit the house to show Claire that there’s nothing extramarital going on. In typical Phil fashion, though, he’s completely wrong and the old flame is in fact trying to heat something new up. This storyline doesn’t really resolve, which is kind of odd. On the side, Alex tells Luke he was adopted and that Phil’s ex is his real mother, but once again this plot just kinda peters out unaddressed at the end of the episode. Maybe no one realizes this if they cross-cut enough?

Speaking of cross-cutting, the episode’s last plot is about Jay accidentally killing Manny’s turtle and then covering it up in fear that Manny will hate him. It’s a somewhat by-the-books bit between the two characters, but works well enough nonetheless.

Unfortunately, like last episode, “Truth Be Told” wasn’t particularly funny either. Oh, it had a good string of gags with the various terrible names given to the Pritchett pets and the Luke-Alex subplot was very well-executed, but there weren’t any absolutely huge laughs. Maybe the turn of events for Mitchell will bring the show back to where it was… or at least convince someone to make all of Modern Family’s characters be in the same room more than once a season.