Modern Family” has been having a fairly successful third season so far, and while tonight’s episode is arguably the weakest one yet this year, it’s still better than most bland family sitcoms. While lacking the consistent laughs of previous episodes, it features a surprise guest star and enough humor to keep us reasonably entertained for half an hour. Read our review to learn more. . .

The Players:

  • Director: Chris Koch
  • Writer: Billy Wrubel
  • Cast: Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Nolan Gold, Sarah Hyland, Ed O’Neill Rico Rodriguez, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara, Ariel Winter

Episode Title: “Door to Door”

After nearly killing her own husband at a dangerous intersection, Claire tries to enlist the help of her family in a campaign to get a stop-sign placed there, but everyone is too distracted to be of much assistance. Phil and Luke try to re-enact a moment from earlier in the day in order to create the next viral video, with little success. Jay tries to teach Manny to be a strong salesman. Cameron helps Gloria look for Stella, while Mitchell tries to overcome his “neat freak” tendencies.

The Good:

  • David Cross?! As Tobias on “Arrested Development,” David Cross proved to audiences who had missed him in “Mr. Show“ that he is one of the strongest comedic actors working in television today, so it was surely a treat to see him randomly appear in an episode of “Modern Family.” Ok, so his role was limited and his lines weren’t even all that funny, but David Cross has the ability to take a seemingly mediocre character and make him memorable.
  • Cameron Kowalski: Most jokes that you see coming a mile away simply aren’t funny, but thankfully, Eric Stonestreet can take the most obvious gag and make it work. Searching for Stella with Gloria, he embraces his inner Brando and starts shouting “Stella!” like Stanley Kowalski from A Streetcar Named Desire. Subtle? No. Funny? Yeah, for sure.

The So-So:

  • Luke and Phil: Slapstick humor is hit or miss, and in this case, it doesn’t totally work. Seeing a grown man get hit in the face with a basketball numerous times just isn’t all that hilarious for those of us who are no longer toddlers. However, the subplot is redeemed due to Phil’s earnest attempts to bond with his son.
  • Manny and Jay: The problem with this subplot is the fact that it deserved a little more time to develop. There are some funny moments–Manny coming across as midly anti-Semitic in an effort to sell Christmas wrapping paper to a Jewish woman is pretty amusing–but it ultimately doesn’t go anywhere. Then again, much like with Phil and Luke, any chance we get to see these two characters bond is certainly welcome.

The Bad:

  • Alex and Haley: There’s nothing particularly wrong with these characters in this episode; however, there’s nothing particularly right with them either. It’s always difficult to include every member of an ensemble cast in a fairly brief episode, but these two went relatively overlooked this week, and that’s a shame.

Overall:

A fantastic guest star and a hysterical performance from Eric Stonestreet save this week’s episode of “Modern Family” from complete mediocrity. As usual, it’s very funny, and by mainstream sitcom standards, you could do a lot worse. However, by “Modern Family” standards, you can also do a lot better.

Rating: 6.5/10

“Modern Family” airs every Wednesday night on ABC!

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