MODERN FAMILY “Phil on Wire” Review

MODERN FAMILY “Phil on Wire” Season 3, Episode 3 – Stella might be my new favorite character on Modern Family – if not my new favorite character, she’s definitely my new favorite television dog. I don’t know if they planned it, but it’s as if Stella has filled in the void left by baby Lily growing up.

Now that Lily is a walking, talking toddler, Stella is the one that sits calmly in the background while the family goes nuts around her. They manage to get Stella to look directly into the camera the same way all the other characters on Modern Family do and without doing any special tricks, Stella seems like she knows exactly what is going on in the scene.

Jay’s relationship with Stella had me cracking up. I’m a dog lover, so none of the things he was doing seemed too crazy to me, but considering that he was against having the dog in the first place, it was hilarious to see how Stella had become his favorite companion.

Gloria trying to tempt Stella into chewing up one of Jay’s shoes was great, but knowing Gloria, it was exactly what I would have expected her to do. I loved the look on Jay and Manny’s faces when they caught her. It was as if they weren’t at all surprised, only disappointed.

Cameron and Mitchell’s ventures into juice fasting also hit a personal chord. I’m sure everyone can relate to knowing someone who goes through Cam’s roller coaster stages of dieting. Although they were both on the verge of a meltdown, Mitchell had his starvation breakdown at the party and totally lost it. They both ran into the waves in front of everyone at the party which continued the series long running gag of the two of them losing their sanity at Mitch’s boss’ home. Speaking of running gags, we also witnessed the brief but brilliant return of Cam’s crazy work out shorts after they decided to ditch the juice fast.

Meanwhile Claire was desperately trying to get Haley and Alex to get along in the same math class while dealing with her own issues with a school parking attendant. I generally cringe when angry people scream at security guards or parking attendants about how their job means they’re compensating for their life’s failures (I’ve seen Parking Wars – it happens a lot) but I have to admit, Claire’s tirade was pretty funny. That security guard was particularly snarky so I didn’t feel too terrible for her and the whole scene just got so much more funny when the girls came out and saw Claire in those plastic zip tie cuffs.

Phil and Luke had been bonding over a common dream after watching a documentary on tightrope walking. Simply watching Phil pull out his “wire walker” shoes from his briefcase made me laugh out loud and his final discernment that his tightrope feat afforded him two ways to cross his front yard was the perfect simple contrast to the big symbolic meaning that Claire had attached to it.

There were a ton of little story lines weaving in and out of this week’s episode but without a doubt, “Phil on a Wire” was another stellar installment of Modern Family. I’m looking forward to next week and crossing my fingers that maybe we’ll get another good dose of Stella on screen soon.