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'Modern Family' recap: A near-crash course in life

Season 6 | Episode 11 | “The Day We Almost Died” | Aired Jan 7, 2015

Well, 2015 is here. How did our Modern Family celebrate ringing in the New Year? With a near-death experience!

After a chaotic car ride involving the Dunphy clan and Manny turns into a close encounter with a raging truck, everyone faces their mortality in different ways (starting with walking to their destinations). Their journeys take them on some very interesting rides (pun intended).

Claire decides that life is too short not to live freely. She sneaks away to Mitch’s office after arguing with him right before the close call to apologize. He begrudgingly agrees to leave work with her after she basically forces him to via public annoyance. Personally, if Claire were my sister, I would have waited to see just how far she was willing to go. Then again, Mitch wouldn’t be Mitch if he had any patience.

They go rollerblading (Mitch is a pro, sarcastically speaking) on the beach. It takes a turn for the worse when she forces him to skate into an underpass, which is a huge fear of his. In his failed resistance, the two get separated into different sides of the pass. Claire comes out anticipating her brother’s triumph, only to find that Mitch was mugged and robbed (too perfect!). Mitch takes Claire’s stuff and skates back to work for a meeting.

Haley and Alex walk away from the non-crash together, mainly because Alex thought that Haley was worried about her during the near tragedy. Alex is so excited that she agrees to makeovers on the way home, which leads to an embarrassing Instagram debacle in which Alex looks ridiculous. The fact that Haley aims to be rid of her sister’s “guy-stache” is hysterical, especially because of how red her mouth appeared. It looks as painful as Steve Carell’s chest waxing in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It is worth it to Alex because she knows how her sister truly feels about her … until she learns that Haley was actually more concerned of losing her phone. #SisterFight

Some of the group got a smaller amount of focus than others. Luke, for example, only mentions fulfilling his bucket list (which includes a jet pack!). All teens his age have bucket lists, right? I didn’t … but my kids will now! Much of Luke’s misadventures occur offscreen.

Manny suffers PTSD as a result of seeing the veil. He walks home to inform Jay and Gloria of the incident. Jay’s immediate blame of Phil is fantastic. Gloria suggests taking Manny for ice cream. The only problem is that Manny chooses to walk alongside the moving vehicle instead of riding in of it.

Jay insists that Manny takes the wheel. After a (hardly) inspiring story about Jay’s own father and facing fear (which we have all probably learned the hard way), Manny fails to drive the car. Jay then tells Manny he doesn’t have to drive, remembering that his own childhood experience shifted his own fear to being scared of his father. Before Manny exits the driver seat, Gloria pretends to see a man that stole her phone (which Manny discusses with Luke before the incident), knowing that Manny wants to find him. Manny books it and overcomes his fear while almost hitting a man on roller skates.

Phil gains the confidence he never had due to the non-collision; he becomes a different person all together. He picks Cam up for a game of racquetball, but chooses to detour and crash Gil’s (his nemesis) sales pitch. It is an awesome scene. Ty Burrell is having some fun playing the confident version of the lovable idiot. PowerPhil (powerful Phil) then takes Cam to get the washer that Mitch wouldn’t let him pick. Phil persuades the salesperson to provide the machine and helps load it himself, leading to my favorite moment of the episode: Phil pours water on himself in slow motion as Cam ashamedly asks the audience, “Is Phil sexy?”

A curveball comes in the form of Phil buying an alpaca in spite of Claire’s feelings. This forces Cam from the car, as we see the man skating by with a pink helmet in the background. Arriving home with the alpaca doesn’t disturb a careless Claire, but there is some appropriate screaming from the kids. Spilling a glass of milk (which he has no control over) leads to Phil facing the fact that he could have lost his family if that truck had been a moment later. They all gather together and settle back to normal (for this family, anyway).

The tag catches up with Mitch, glazing over his day full of skating. It’s pretty great how well the pink-helmet man was spread throughout the episode. In fact, this episode was written incredibly skillfully. At times, Modern Family leaves the realm of reality that so many people connect with, but this episode handles the departure well, especially thanks to the touching ending. It was a thoroughly enjoyable episode in a much-improved sixth season of an outstanding comedy series. I give this episode 4.5 slow-mo ice dousings out of five.

Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9/8C on ABC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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