Something about this episode felt undercooked to me. Like the network asked the producers to do another Valentine’s Day episode and they couldn’t say no. At least I hope there’s some explanation for the lackluster “Bixby’s Back.”
To be fair, though, the most re-hashed element of the show was the one that worked best. Ty Burrell’s ill-fated attempt at playing the mysterious stranger was just as hilarious as last year, and the script brilliantly showed Phil creeping into Clive’s character as he tried to say things like, “I’m an expert at catching things from woman at bars” and “You’re hot enough to cook a pizza on…in.” Still, the whole key mix-up was a little tiresome.
Jay and Gloria’s plot strained credulity to the breaking point, since it asked us to believe that somehow Gloria planned to get out of that restaurant even after she insisted on being seated, stealing Cam and Mitchell’s reservation in the process. It really only featured one joke, Gloria’s assertion, “now we know that you are romantic and I am smarter than you.”
It’s amazing to say it, but it’s also true. The writers just have nothing left to do with Cam and Mitchell. Nearly every one of their plots this season has required a hackneyed misunderstanding, a one-shot guest star, or both. ( This week we are “treated” to Mitchell’s previously unmentioned assistant Broderick, and the spat the couple has over whom Broderick has a crush on is just empty silliness.
I know Arrested Development did something similar with very humorous results, but I find Manny’s open attraction to Haley way too creepy to be funny. Maybe if it tortured him to feel that way, it would lend itself to more laughs, but at present it just diminishes his otherwise amazing character.
All in all a down week for Modern Family, despite the return of Clive Bixby.