TV in Review: Modern Family, “The Last Walt”
April 19, 2012 4 Comments
Last night, Modern Family opened “The Last Walt” with Phil and Claire Dunphy wondering how to break the news to their son Luke that his elderly friend Walt passed away. (Apparently Luke hasn’t watched last week’s episode, “Election Day”). If you’re ready to laugh about how the Dunphys break the news, join me after the jump.
Phil’s plan is to break the news to Luke slowly. How slowly?
PHIL: First we’d say, “Luke, your friend Walt has a cold, you shouldn’t go over there.” Next day, “Bad news. Walt’s in the hospital, but he’s still cracking jokes with the nurses.” Next day, “They’re trying an experimental drug. Fingers crossed.” Next day, “His body rebelled. He’s in a coma.” Next day, he rallies. Next day, coma. Next day, coma. Next day, coma. Next day, eye flutter –
PHIL: Next –
CLAIRE: Just stop.
PHIL: — coma.
CLAIRE: Just stop.
The way in which they handled the actual news was, for me, one of the moments where Modern Family models good behavior.
CLAIRE: Luke, we have some bad news for you. It’s about Walt. I’m afraid — he passed away.
PHIL: Um, it happened yesterday. He finished writing an angry letter to the Postmaster General and he just fell asleep.
PHIL: It was very peaceful. Not the letter. That was full of threats, but –
CLAIRE: It’s okay to be sad, honey. You two were really good friends. It must be quite a shock to hear that Walt’s dead.
PHIL: Um, so do you wanna talk about it, or?
LUKE: I’m okay. Can I get back to my video game? It’s paused.
Claire and Phil are worried about Luke’s lack of reaction, although at first they give him the space to react as he will. Later, Claire goes overboard in her meticulous management of her son’s emotions. Is anyone surprised? Perhaps she tries to control Luke because she can’t control herself.
CLAIRE: I’m sorry. I’m so sorry! I just found out my face does this!
Cam and Mitch struggle to put together a bed, so Cam’s father comes to the rescue. He’s a real old-timer.
MERLE: So the cabin door swings open and damned if there wasn’t a lady pilot in there.
CAM: Yeah, well, I hate to admit it, but it throws me, too. I do prefer a man.
MERLE: We gonna have this conversation again?
I get that Modern Family can handle this kind of amiable bigotry because it’s stretching boundaries in other open-minded directions and it can actually help people to have older close-minded voices represented (and Barry Corbin does a terrific job as Cam’s dad), but “lady pilots”? Are there really people who care about whether or not their pilot is a boy or a girl? Hm, maybe I am prejudiced here…time for some self-reflection. Yeah, I might actually trust a lady pilot more, figuring that she must be extra good to make it past all of the lady pilot jokes. Okay, on with the show…
Did I already mention how I like the casting of Corbin?
CAM: You have to make an effort. It’s my partner’s father. Now give me the growl that means okay.
Mitch’s double-take is lots of fun, as he tries to hide his own dad’s reluctance to get together with Cam’s dad.
MITCH: Cam says red. Okay, yeah, he so happy –
Cam leaves the room.
MITCH: — knock it off, old man. You are not sick. Why do you always do this?
Jay and Merle wind up making fools of themselves as they compete over their sons. In fact, both the sons and the fathers are overly invested in the manliness of their families.
Hayley connives to throw a party using Jay and Gloria’s place, with “Uncle Manny” operating as chaperone. Manny (he’s my favorite!) makes for a dedicated chaperone, as you might expect.
MANNY: Exits, fire extinguisher, burn kit — okay, let’s have some fun.
MANNY: I believe it was clear the bedrooms are off-limits. Young lady, I don’t think you’re ready up here for what you’re planning to do up there.
Finally, Phil tries to make up for not having spent as much quality time with Alex, by having her join him in tossing Walt’s dog tags into the sea, before they go out of their way for milkshakes and more.
So, it was a good week for Modern Family. Compelling plot lines, woven together well, with plenty of tight one-liners. 21 minutes just isn’t enough. Then again, every waltz (and Walt?) has a tinge of sadness to it.
ABC first broadcast Season 3, Episode 20 of Modern Family on April 18, 2012.
Polentical: TV in Review: Modern Family, “Election Day” (Season 3, Episode 19)
Couchtime with Jill: Modern Family – Death and Daddy Issues
ADAM CORNER!: Modern Family “The Last Walt” Review: Jay and Merle … Hilarious Fathers!
TheTwoCents: Modern Family – Recap & Review – The Last Walt