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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Regrets Only"/"Heather's Sister"

I'm reducing my carbon footprint by combing Modern Family and Mr. Sunshine into one post.

Regrets Only was a strong showing by Modern Family; an episode that fully utilized its talented ensemble cast and mixed up the three families to amusing effect. It may seem unlikely for Cameron to rely on Luke for party help (really, wouldn't Manny make much more sense?) but it paid off with great sight gags and one-liners. Cameron instantly going into Meryl Streep in "Devil Wears Prada" mode just because he has an assistant was so much fun I decided to forgive the fact that once again the writers sunk Cam and Mitchell into a plot where they had to impress their artsy friends. It's ironic as hell, but they are by far the most sitcom-cliche couple on the show.

The other main plot (Gloria's at-home karaoke was a trifle) featuring Phil and Claire's fight was nicely balanced between the outright comical (spraying each other with the fire extinguisher allowed Ty Burrell to demonstrate his impeccable slapstick) and the heartfelt (the resolution where Phil convinces Claire that he does listen to her opinions was sweet without devolving into treacle.)

I loved how their fight kept Alex from earning her righteous victory over Haley. Alex is really an under-utilized character; I loved the way she grilled Manny to pin down time and date. (Also, how great is this show when they pack the script so full of jokes that you might easily miss Manny breaking a friendship over a bad romantic comedy recommendation?)

Mr. Sunshine's third episode relies a little too heavily on the type of stories that got people talking about the death of the sitcom in the early 2000s. The episode used both the dreaded "double date" AND "visiting friend who is really a rival". That's a bit distressing so early in a series, but the acting does elevate some weak material. I was laughing fairly regularly, which of course covers a lot of sins in comedy. The show was helped by how far it is willing to go with Heather's character, who is both frighteningly insane and sweetly demurring. It's an impressive combination.

I also just like Matthew Perry and his line readings. It's a cleverly constructed character; insecure, selfish, and self-aware. It lends itself to a lot of great line readings and reactions. I hope the rest of the show grows into something more interesting creatively.

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