'Modern Family' recap: 'The Old Man and the Tree'

By Martina Maio,

The holiday themed episode Modern Family titled, “The Old Man and the Tree” followed the family on their last minute hilarious holiday endeavors. Starting off at the Dunphy’s, where Phil is forced to complete his personal challenge of “ellipticaling” to Canada from Los Angeles. In the tease, Claire explains that Phil’s completion of the challenge will determine whether or not they will have a machine in the bedroom. Phil takes full advantage of the innuendo, commenting, “Except for this machine, ladies.” From then on, the episode continues on a funny note.

Episode 10, takes place on Christmas Eve, only the most hectic day of the holiday season. While Phil is making his way up north, Haley and Alex are preparing for Haley’s move into her own basement bedroom. While Claire tries to reminisce with the girls about when they were young, Haley’s stupidity lands her an accidental one liner. “When I wake up on my own room tomorrow I’m going to give thanks for my independence, isn’t that what Christmas is for?”

Cameron and Mitchell are faces some first-world problems of their own. While preparing for Pepper’s ’12 Gays of Christmas’ party, the couple realizes that they forgot the only item on Lily’s Christmas List. It becomes Mitchell’s mission to buy Lily a Puppy Pound before the next morning. And so begins the stereotypical day before Christmas shopping trip.

Mitchell’s shopping excursion becomes a minor issue in comparison to the ridiculous predicament that Cameron lands himself in. While Cam and Lily are at a fundraiser for the needy, Cam realizes that they are actually at a fundraiser held for the needy. Needless to say, things get a little awkward. Lily finally gets her Puppy Pound, taken right from the hands of the homeless Los Angeles community.

Back at the Dunphy’s Luke is trying to motivate Phil to make it to his destination, but mostly for his own benefit. Luke has enlisted Dylan to dispose of the months of recycling that Luke forgot to take out. This character interaction is one that I hope is explored again in future episodes. Scenes with Dylan and Luke together are candid and hilariously entertaining. The winning combo is pretty minor in this episode, but when Luke pays Dylan in fireworks it’s worth the mere minute of comedy.

Though the episode is titled, “The Old Man and the Tree” Manny and Jay’s quest to find a real Christmas tree in order to save Christmas seems minor. In order to save Christmas Jay insists on cutting down a tree just like his father did. When the duo decides on the perfect tree they fight to get it out of the ground. Jay reassures Manny, stating “Trees are like women, the best ones make you work a little bit harder,” to which Manny coyly responds “She’s just not that into you.” A classic line. Kudos Manny.

The family issues of the holiday season are explored through Claire and Gloria’s storyline,which turns up some simulated sibling rivalry. When Gloria enlists Claire to “babysit,” she actually is asking her to watch her visiting Columbian mother, Fleur. Gloria and Claire start competing for the affections of Fleur when she pays Claire just a tad too much praise. The fiery catty comedic combination of Gloria and Claire is short lived, when Fleur decides to address Claire’s obvious mommy issues.

The comedic highlight of the episode takes place at the mall, where Haley and Alex are working as an Elf and Mrs. Claus at the mall Santa display. The begrudging Santa Claus disappears after he and Mrs. Claus get into a fight. The fleeing Santa causes Alex to panic about her love life, while an uproar takes place when the impatient children riot outside of the “North Pole.” Dressed in ridiculous costume, Haley and Alex scream in fear as the kids attacked the miniature Christmas house. The entire scene was overdramatic in the best way possible.

The conclusion of the episode embodies the series’ usual wrap up scenario. Phil reaches Canada with the support of Luke, who shouts “You’re just aboot there, can you see it!?” We get our weekly awww moment, from Lily, who at the end of the fundraiser gives away her Puppy Pound to a kid in need. Though the wisecracker got her sass in commenting afterwards that she would get one tomorrow anyway.

Manny and Jay’s struggle with the tree is solved when Jay’s SUV rolls into it knocking it over. The two vow not to tell a soul of their luck, despite the fact that the saw is stuck in the trunk.

The ending voiceover is done by Luke says, “A lot of times it’s only when we get rid of something when we realize how much we miss it..” his sentiment is shown over a montage of the family celebrating, and Haley and Alex climbing into bed together. The otherwise heartwarming scene takes a hilarious turn when it ends with Luke, explaining his reasons for ignoring the recycling to his parents with a bandaged up Dylan beside him.

The tag was one of my favorite parts of the episode, though it lasted for approximately 10 seconds. Footage of Phil on the elliptical throughout the year rolls, revealing numerous costumes, voices, and ridiculous Phil antics. Overall, the holiday episode was solid. I do hope that Modern Family has me cackling out loud again soon.

image: ABC


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