Modern Family Premiere Recap: Chocolate Milk with Salt

09/23/2010 05:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

After the long summer break, the officially named Outstanding Comedy Series, Modern Family, returned last night--and I'm so happy to have it back! (Congratulations to the whole show and to Eric Stonestreet for his win for Best Supporting Actor--you deserved it!) Just to hear Gloria's accent, Phil's dorky voice, and see Manny's chubby face brought such a smile to my face. I have to say the show wasn't at its best last night. It felt a little self aware in the new season, playing into its own jokes a little too much, and less subtly, but either way, there's no other family I would've rather spent thirty minutes with. In the first season (click for my full season recap), the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker crew was just getting to know each other and hilariously adjusting to their new family. Now at the start of the new season, the kids are growing up, and this episode is all about accepting change. To recap--here are each of the family's highlights:

The Dunphys

The Dunphys (Phil, specifically) were definitely the highlight of this episode: Claire tells Phil it's time to sell the old car in the garage, and Phil doesn't want to so she challenges him that he can't sell the car (insulting Phil's skills as a salesman), so he obviously does. Then, going through the car, Claire gets sentimental and doesn't want to let it go. She tells Phil he can't do anything to make her feel better--unless he can build her a time machine. Leave it to Phil to take that seriously, he pretty cutely turns the car into a time machine for the night--once again making us realize why they're so great together. Phil's the only one dorky enough to make the time machine but Claire is the only one dorky enough to love it.

Phil to the camera (after Claire challenged his selling skills): "You can insult a lot of things about me, my hair, my voice, my balance board exercises, but don't insult my selling bc that crosses a line, what line? Oh, you don't see it? That's 'cause I just sold it."

The best line--about the picture from the Rosebowl:
Luke: "Mom, you look really pretty [...] So what happened?"
Phil: "Well Lukey, everyone gets older, just because parts of your mom aren't what they used to be--"
Luke:"-- I mean, what happened in the game?" Every.Time.
Phil: "We got our butts kicked by Penn State, the parade was awesome though, Angela Lansbury was the grand marshal--good times, she wrote." (As he smiles up at the camera).

Haley has notably detached her cell phone from her hand this season.

Luke and Alex have the same interaction--Alex making fun of his innocently stupid jar of sunshine:
Luke:" No! No, no, don't, don't open it."
Alex: "You think you trapped sunshine in there? I'm just letting you know now, I'm not taking care of him when you guys die."

Phil's Mnemonic devices (pronounces the M):
Claire: "I think its mnemonic," (pronounced correctly)
Phil: "I think I'd remember."

Luke, who's truly Phil's son, goes to help remember the caller's name "You can do it, dad!"
Phil: "He looked like the drummer from Foreigner, a foreigner's from France, France rhymes with ants, ants ruin a picnic, whatsup nick (high-five)!"

Phil to Claire: "Guess what! You said I couldn't sell this well you're gonna be eating humble pie, [...] In your face, girl with a negative tattoo."- haha, because Phil would be making wordplay jokes with this summer's hit The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".

Calming Claire down about the car, we get both gadgety Phil and sensitive Phil:
"Whoa, you're leaving out a few great minutes there, retirement, old age, cool chair that goes up the stairs."

"Don't apologize, I love you when you're human."

As the car starts to slide away, Phil jumps on and tries to save it (the past) for dear life but has to let it go--signifies change in season.

One of the better, most realistic moments was when Haley and Alex are cracking up, imitating Claire "What's the plan, Phil??" They never imitated their parents last season, they're growing up and could make for funny mimicking this season.

The Pritchett-Tuckers--Cam/Mitchell/Lily plus Jay

Mitchell and Cam are building Lily a princess castle, which was a role-reversal for the two of them. Mitchell sounds like Cam and Cam sounds like Mitchell--it's usually Cam with the crazy ideas and Mitchell who needs to control him, but with the princess castle, Mitch's inner princess comes out, and it's him who needs to be controlled.

Mitchell: " I fancy myself as a bit of a castle designer, I've done a few sketches."
Cam: "which we have archived, so we can use the kit."

Cam, after all, a drummer and football player, is better with his hands, and more "manly" in that sense. With this role reversal, unfortunately, and I think the weakest point of the episode, was that we didn't get enough of Cam's flamboyance and high pitch. Conversely, Mitchell was much less annoying than I found him last season and actually kinda funny (though I may just like him more after watching him tear up during Stonestreet's Emmy acceptance speech).

Mitchell to Jay and Cam: "Oh my god, you are, you're cahoots! [...] I was an intern at the Sondberg summer play house, do you think that the town of Brigadoon just magically appeared [...] the Von Trapp Mansion, Evita's balcony (throwing his hands up)!"

Building the princess house ironically calls into play who's manlier, with Mitchell feeling the need to prove himself. Jay, who has become somewhat of a mediator, brings up the difference between the roles.
Jay tells Cam: "So what if he can't swing a hammer? Look at all he has done, law school, great career, providing for his family, that's manly too, isn't it? I mean in the classical sense."
Cam: "Well yes, I mean I also think it takes a big man to quit his career as a music teacher and raise a child."

Cam's best line--to Jay: "He wants to feel like a regular Joe, like you and I, oh pardon moi, I prefer the champagne Dijon to the standard yellow."

Jay's best line--about building a bookshelf with Mitch in the past: "That was my Vietnam...and I was in Vietnam."

Continuity with the pigeon flying into the castle while Mitchell's stuck inside--revenge for the finale and a constant issue with pigeons.

The Pritchett-Delgados Gloria/Jay/Manny

Since Jay was off building a princess castle, their story was really Manny and Gloria's and it was a showdown between Gloria and Manny's new girlfriend (err--girl who's "just coming over to study the lifecycle of silk worms") Kelly. Gloria was the second funniest part of the episode, feeling threatened by the new girl putting her notes in Manny's notebook and has him swearing off trans-fats.

Gloria warns us from the beginning about Columbian mothering--"my culture mothers are very clingy to their sons [...] I am not like that, I just want my Manny to be happy" But of course this means she will be...

The chocolate milk with salt showdown:

Gloria: So how is it going?

Manny: Great, Kelly's moving her stuff into my notebook.

Gloria: This is sudden.

Kelly: It just felt right. Oh, you know what you should do, put a pinch of salt in the chocolate milk, it really brings out the flavor.

Gloria: Salt is for the popcorn.

Manny: Sounds good.

Gloria: You wouldn't like it.

Kelly (defiantly): Maybe we should let Manny decide.

Gloria: Okay, here's the salt. We'll see what he likes.

Manny tries both (even though it didn't look like very much came out of Kelly's salt shake):

Manny: Wow! It's great! Try it, Mom.
Gloria: I don't care for it

Her best line of the episode, defeated and in her accent, she tells the camera, "It was delicious."

Instead of going to see the movie with "Shia LaBOOOF," Manny leaves her to go out to dinner, more continuity--"I'll wear my burgundy dinner jacket" (recalling one of my favorite lines from last season: "But if this so-called Santa Claus doesn't bring me a burgundy dinner jacket, we're going to have a big problem.")

And of course, he comes back, she didn't like his dinner jacket and she ordered for him. No go: "I don't want to be with someone who doesn't get me. Do we have any trans-fats left?"

Always the ladies man, he then calls Alicia-"she's a girl in my history class, we like to play six degrees of Sir Francis Bacon." Aw.

Phil brings us to a close with the lesson of the episode (which is often Jay's role): "It's gonna be tough to say goodbye, it always is, nobody loves change, but part of life is learning to let things go."

With that, they bring us into season two-- it's time to watch them change. I think what it was missing was more interaction between the families and a full-family scene, but we were just getting re-situated, it was the first episode, and something tells me they're just warming up. Welcome Back!

Winner of the Episode: Phil