Welcome back, my Modern Family friends! It's been a long, lonely two weeks of reruns, and I was glad to have my Family back tonight. While I can't say it was the best episode yet, it was definitely strong, and in addition to having some really funny one-off lines and bits, it brought us two fantastic cameos. First we welcomed back Nathan Lane's feisty Pepper -- always great, and never quite enough. And second, we were introduced to Philip Baker Hall's Walt Kleezak, who played Phil and Claire's scary neighbor who befriends the increasingly clueless Luke. (While some of you will recognize Hall from such highbrow films as Magnolia, others will simply remember him as Inspector Bookman from Seinfeld -- yes, him!) Walt and Luke's unexpected friendship brought on many of the funniest moments of the night, including Luke's inability to fully understand anything that Walt said ("We have that in our house, but it's not in tanks," said Luke about Walt's oxygen tanks). Their bond also resulted in perhaps the best exchange of the evening between Claire and Phil:
Claire: "Little kids can be friends with old people, right?"
Phil: "Of course they can, there's tons of examples: Up, Gran Torino, True Grit…"
Claire: "Cartoon, kills himself, she loses an arm…we've gotta go talk to that guy."
But the best part of the night by far was watching Jay bond with Mitchell and Cam's friends Pepper, Longinus ("I never stood a chance"), and Crispin and embrace his inner gay. Granted, he may have had a few too many absinthe margarita cocktails to get to the point where he was singing at the table and making "Don't go there" shower jokes with the boys, but it was rewarding nonetheless. I always love to see Mitchell and Jay have their semi-sentimental father-son moments. Emphasis on the semi, as Jay always brings it back to his gruff comfort zone. Case in point: "I was drunk, I'm not going shopping with Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." And he's back, folks.
And now on to some more of the many funny lines of the evening:
"Hump day, am I right, Jay?" –Manny to Jay
"Your day ends at 2:30." –Jay's response to Manny
"Wow, are the movie rights available for that one?" –Manny in response to a boring anecdote about crab cakes that Jay told
"I'm still growing into my tongue." –Luke, in defense of his drooling
"If Hannibal Lecter and Freddy Krueger had a love child, he would be afraid of our next-door neighbor." – Claire about Mr. Kleezak
"She had to take Alex to the oncologist…. She needed new glasses." –Haley
"A shot, with our only child, why not, if something goes wrong we can just pop over to the Orient and grab another one." – Cameron, overreacting to Mitchell being open to Haley babysitting Lily
"That's your big solution, embrace ignorance?" –Alex to Claire
And then there's Phil: "What are you guys arguing about? Never mind, I don't want to know."
"I love Westerns, the bloodier the better, that's my favorite type of movie – that and anything set against the backdrop of competitive cheerleading." Ah, Phil
"Richard Gere, I'll be the officer, don't be a gentleman." –Cam, about his first crush
"He doesn't know I'm this gay." –Mitchell, scared to invite Jay over to sit with his friends Pepper, Longinus, and Crispin (best names ever!)
"We were just concerned you looked dead...no offense." –Phil to Mr. Kleezak
"When I was 12 years old my father walked into my bedroom and caught me doing the most embarrassing thing that a boy can do: dancing to Madonna's 'Lucky Star.'" –Mitchell
"They're gay, they know what shoes they own!" –Haley to Dylan
"Oh, God, he's seen my sexy dance." –Phil
"Sorry I aggravated you, and just so you know, a lot of people think I'm adorable." –Luke
"How do you guys do it? I thought cops could drink." –A hungover Jay to Mitchell
What did I miss? Do you want to see more of Pepper? And did anyone else catch Cam's random knowledge of the "sports" game at the bar, when he said to Jay: "Oh, sit down, we're up by 25 with a minute to go." And who else thinks Rob Lowe's looks have held him back?