‘Modern Family’ Season Seven Finale: “Double Click” Marks the Spot

Modern Family 6

On the season finale of “Modern Family,” Alex (Ariel Winter) came home for the summer, Claire (Julie Bowen) struggled with firing a useless employee, Phil (Ty Burrell) suspects Luke (Nolan Gould) is becoming sexually active, while Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) struggle with the former leaving town and being apart for an extended period of time, in “Double Click.”

We began with the return of Alex, which absolutely no one noticed wasn’t just a “pop-in” visit, much to her chagrin, despite the fact that she’d left a massive indication of it on the calendar. Perhaps needless to say, this would become a running gag throughout the episode, with Alex becoming ever-more put out with each subsequent indignity, with increasingly amusing reactions from Winter, who easily stole the episode out from under everyone else.

Instead of noticing Alex, Phil was focused on the impending annual “Family Camp” festivities; Luke was fixated on keeping a girl he was seeing on the down-low; and Claire was stressing about needing to make some cut-backs at work, notably via firing at least one employee that was the most expendable, Neal (Frank Caeti).

Meanwhile, Cam was preparing for a visit to his relatives in Missouri, and was going all out, to the point of dressing the part. When Mitch called him out on it, Cam said he was only trying to “fit in.” “With what? A jug band?” Mitch said snarkily, in the line of the night, IMHO.

ADAM DEVINE, SARAH HYLAND

On the opposite end of the spectrum were Hayley (Sarah Hyland) and Andy (Adam DeVine), the latter of whom was prepared to turn down his dream job rather than be away from his beloved. Naturally, Hayley gets wind of it and is horrified at the thought of his doing so on her behalf- but also kind of flattered.

Jay (Ed O’Neill) shows up at his old stomping grounds to help out a struggling Claire, who begrudgingly lets him, though she’s hesitant to show that she’s feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment. Even worse, when she finally gets up the nerve to fire Neal, she catches him beating her high score on a Dance Dance Revolution-type game.

Not wanting it to seem like she’s firing him for beating her score, Claire backs off entirely, but being who she is, she can’t help herself to go back and try and beat his score again, just so she’ll feel better about firing him again. She succeeds, but unfortunately, Hayley drops by and inadvertently knocks the plug out of the wall, erasing everyone’s score in the process, rendering Claire’s action moot.

Speaking of dressing a part, in the sight gag of the evening, Mitch, for little reason beyond getting a laugh, dresses as Little Orphan Annie, only to get caught by tourists outside as he’s running to get some cash from the ATM thinking he’s one of those people who dress up as popular characters and pose with them for money.

Modern Family 5

Never one to pass up the opportunity to make a quick buck, Mitch says he’ll oblige- for the right price. But this attracts the attention of another Annie on the scene, who takes umbrage with this unforeseen competition, leading to a silly-but-amusing verbal battle of guys dressed as Annie, which is a sentence I never thought I’d ever be typing, ever.

Phil is putting together the various games outside the house with Luke when he spots a hickey on his neck. Then, to make matters worse, he spots a lone shoe just under Luke’s window. He eventually chastises him for it, but it’s too late- the girl has dumped Luke after the fact.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Phil also says something to Andy about the aforementioned job he was thinking of turning down- right in front of Hayley. With the cat out of the bag for real, Hayley can no longer claim ignorance and has to make a choice.

Surprisingly, she chooses to let Andy take the job, not wanting him to resent her for not taking it. I’ll be- our little Hayley might be growing up after all. They have a cute moment at the airport where they make fun of another couple saying goodbye, making up what they think each is saying.

Modern Family 4

My favorite line during this exchange was “I’ll love you until this pantsuit comes back in style” on Hayley’s end. This before they give in and do the same, of course, which is to say, kiss each other goodbye. Aww. Just when things were finally starting to go their way for once.

Back the closet company HQ, a fellow employee takes Claire to task when she tells everyone she has reclaimed her high score, only for them to discover that the machine is unplugged. Ironically, Neal steps up to her defense, standing up for her passionately. Alas, in the end, it isn’t enough to save him, as something has to give, and Neal is just plain the most expendable.

After becoming increasingly frustrated with Cam’s scrambling around doing various things before he leaves town, things finally reach their breaking point after the credit card debacle on Mitch’s end and a disastrous perm on Lily’s. Unfortunately, as they discover, Cam was only going above and beyond on his end to make sure everyone was taken care of before he left town.

I thought the leftover food notes were a nice touch: “The sun will come out tamale” being a cute call-back to the Annie thing. Feeling bad about their overreactions, Mitch and Lily opt to meet Cam at the airport and come along with him after all, so they won’t have to be apart so long.

Modern Family 3

Meanwhile, all’s well that ends well with Team Dunphy, as they opt to take Family Camp on the road as well, traveling to NYC as a group to have fun as a family rather than staying home to participate in Phil’s insanely elaborate games.

Well, okay, then Phil does get his phone stolen, so there’s that, and with everyone out of town, no one will be around to do the various things they need them to in each other’s absence, so Mitch will be coming home to some dead plants, among other things- but hopefully, the dog will be okay!

This was a decent enough finale that was just good enough to pass muster in the clutch, thanks to solid work from Winter, Ferguson and Hyland in particular, but admittedly wasn’t anything spectacular, unfortunately.

While a good season overall, at this point, “Modern Family” has sort of become akin to that pair of slippers that are just broken in enough to be comfy, but not quite falling apart yet. For examples of shows that are maybe a little too past their prime at this point, see FOX’s Sunday night animated line-up. Still watchable, sure, but definitely showing signs of wear and tear.

Modern Family 8

“Modern Family” isn’t quite that bad off, to be sure, but it’s starting to get a little drafty in these shoes, that’s for sure. Hopefully, they can keep it together for at least a few more seasons, as I do think the show has a bit more life in it yet.

The benefit of a show like this is that the ensemble cast is still crackling good and very much in the zone of the characters they’re playing. You hate to see that kind of chemistry go to waste, but you also don’t want to see the show coasting on its laurels just yet, either. Granted, seven seasons is a bit long-in-the-tooth by TV standards, but I do think the show still has a few good years left in it, if they play their cards right.

For instance, I do tend to enjoy the “on the road” episodes, like the recent one “Crazy Train” (which would have made for a better finale) and I just loved the one with the Christian rock band, “Man Shouldn’t Lie,” which featured some trenchant- and hilarious- social commentary that was most welcome. Also, sometimes celeb cameos can be annoying, but the Ray Liotta one was pretty great, in “Playdates.”

Finally, a lot of whether something works can depend on the plotlines the characters are saddled with, for obvious reasons. For every one that worked for me, like Phil’s ongoing duck drama or the business with Gloria’s “Special Sauce” (the episode where Jay tried to “whack” her standee from the grocery store, “Thunk in the Trunk” was priceless), there were an awful lot that didn’t, which is really unfortunate.

Modern Family 9

It seems to me like the more long-term, well-thought-out ones tend to fly and continue to pay off over time, while the short-term, going-for-the-obvious-punchline-and-not-much-else…not so much. So, some things to think about over the hiatus, to be sure.

The real question is, will the eighth season see them on cruise control again, or will they step up their game a bit? I’d like to think the latter, but a lot will depend on the attitude of those behind the scenes, obviously. If they’re just cashing paychecks at this point, it may not bode well for the show’s future, but if they can maybe draft a few new faces behind-the-scenes just to give things a new lease on life, they could easily right the ship in no time. We shall see.

Until then, I enjoyed the show more often than not, so there’s that. I can still count on it for a few good laughs on every episode, and that’s better than I can say for some shows of its ilk. (For instance, how “2 Broke Girls” is still on the air is beyond me- and mind you, I really like the leads on that show under normal circumstances.)

So, yeah, keep up the good work, “Modern Family”- just don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit, either. Nothing wrong with hiring a few new writers to keep the laughs coming from new places and points of view, am I right? Here’s hoping they do just that, because it would be a shame if those shoes got a little TOO threadbare, you know?

Modern Family 1

What did you think of the season finale of “Modern Family”? How about the season as a whole? Who are your favorite characters? Which ones do you think could stand an overall overhaul? Are there some storylines you’d like to see? How might the show mix things up in a positive way? Sound off down below and see you next season!