After having a doctor’s visit but then missing the call with the test results, Phil automatically jumps to conclusions and starts saying his goodbyes. Meanwhile Javier pops up unannounced again and takes Manny to the horse races for a belated birthday celebration, and a subtle competition ensues when Mitchell brings home an environmental law award and it becomes a game of who has the bigger trophy.
Modern Family returned in the new year with an episode, Lifetime Supply, that perhaps lacked the humor that came to be expected of the show, but it had a focus that the show has been lacking lately, with three storylines instead of the usual four, one from each household (the Dunphys, the Pritchett-Delgados and the Pritchett-Tuckers), that brought everyone together in the end.
The story that will eventually brings all three plots together finds Phil at the doctor’s for a physical where he is told he needs further tests. The doctor tells Phil that he’ll call if there’s anything wrong and Phil freaks out when he misses the doctor’s call next morning and he can’t reach him. On the same day that Phil misses a call from his doctor he also runs out of what was supposed to be a ‘lifetime’ supply of razors that he won on a game show and he is convinced that the end of a lifetime supply is a sign that his life may be ending.
However, the episode is far more about competition than it was about the lifetime supply of razors that Phil won in the 1990s that gave it its title.
Jay and Manny are planning a golf outing when Manny’s dad, smooth-talking Javier, shows up. Javier wants to take Manny to the horse races, where Javier has a system for winning big, and Gloria insists that Jay accompany them. At the track Manny is caught between his two dads, each trying to give the boy life lessons through horseracing. Jay likes to make an educated bet by doing research and going with the horse favored to win. Javier’s method is to look the horses in their eyes and listen to them, a system is perfectly suited not only to win but to cause Jay endless irritation. Naturally, Javier wins big and Jay is left flabbergasted by his continued failures culminating in a dumb luck win that gets overturned. Jay is upset he realizes that impressing Manny was more important to him than the actual bet. While Manny isn’t really his son, with Javier very seldom around Jay feels like Manny’s real father and having Javier spending time with him and Manny reminds Jay that he is not Manny’s dad. The scenes at the track were bittersweet and gave Modern Family an emotional edge rarely seen in the show.
Meanwhile, Mitchell won an award for distinguished service in the field of environmental law and happily put his trophy on the mantleonly to find. Cam decides to put a fishing award from his teen years nest to Mitchell’s to showcase, too, because “it was a big deal when he won it.” Mitchell isn’t happy with Cam’s addition to the mantle, feels Cam is trying to upstage him and gets petty. Mitchell tells Alex his feelings about it, and she agrees with him completely. This helps him realize that he’s been acting like a teenage girl – “I’m so glad I spoke to Alex because she agreed with every single thing that I was saying,” Mitchell tells us, “which made me realize that I was acting like a 14-year-old girl!”. When Mitchell tried to make it up to him and celebrate Cam’s accomplishments by putting his trophies on the mantle (realizing that Cam had a large trophy collection), his plan fell apart when an errant mouse caused him to drop and stomp on some of the trophies. In front of Cam, naturally, who assumes the worst, and walks off as only Cam can without giving Mitchell the chance to explain.
Phil’s story plays out with the whole family on hand for the news. The whole family dropped in on Phil and Claire believing the worst, thanks to Gloria’s panic over Phil’s prognosis. The fact that the doctor was calling on a Saturday has them convinced that it must be bad news. Instead, the doctor is calling about a real estate listing; and Phil’s tests came back normal.
BTW, Lifetime Supply” was watched by 13.98 million people, up by almost 1.8m viewers from the last original episode. Modern Family finished first in the key adults 18-49 demographic with a 5.6/14 rating, up from the last episode’s 5.1/13 rating back on December 7th.