So we eventually got to the episode of “Modern Family” guest starring Benjamin Bratt, “Up All Night.” I admit I started watching the series when I learnt Benjamin was to appear in one episode, but then I found myself looking forward to each episode for its own sake because they can be hilarious yet sweet. (I guess this proves that the ‘guest star’ strategy works. )
“Up All Night” is a great episode. It begins with the children answering the question, “What irritating things do parents say to their children?” All four kids gave responses that would be repeated by their parents later in the episode (Manny: “That’s too much cologne,” and “It’s inappropriate because she’s your teacher;” Luke: “Don’t talk black to me,” and “I don’t even talk black, like ends words with izzle;” Alex: “Act like an adult.”) What irritated the kids about being talked to like this is that the adults often just act like big children themselves.
Anyway, I loved how the three – very separate (differently from the other episodes so far, where the three families interact with each other – family storylines each revealed a different way to be a dad and a different version of being a man.
Benjamin was perfect and cast so well as Manny’s father, Javier Delgado. He definitely nailed the elements of the father who tries to make up for broken promises and absence with gifts and fun and still coming across as the world’s most interesting dad. He has run-ins with pirates, he played minor league baseball, and he lives in the moment. It’s easy to side with Jay and not like the guy. Talking over the pool table, Jay calls Javier out on all the times he had stood up Manny. Javier blamed this partly on his passion for living in the moment and his own insecurities in regards to Jay’s success. But Gloria’s ex and her current love ended up bonding over baseball, as Javier surprised Jay and Manny with a late-night trip to a stadium. In the end, it’s Jay who is left abandoned by Javier after being seduced into friendship with him. Jay woefully standing by the curb awaiting Javier and in a role reversal Manny comes to get him is both funny and a little sad.
Meanwhile. Cam and Mitchell argue over Lily’s sleeping habits. Mitchell wants to let her cry herself to sleep, but Cameron just couldn’t stand this idea. It was hilarious to see Cameron weeping uncontrollably listening to his daughter crying over the baby monitor and trying over and over again to go into Lily’s room to soothe her crying . It got particularly funny when Cameron compared himself to an over-protective mother bear and then got shooed into the bedroom with a chair, à la the bear trainer at a circus. In the end we learn that the disagreement isn’t really about Mitchell wanting to set aggressive boundaries, but about his fear that Lilly will love Cam more.
Stealing the episode once again is Phil, who gets a kidney stone that requires minor surgery and an overnight in the hospital. While assuring his family that he’ll be fine, he also blurts out panicked statements over-exaggerating the possibility of his not making it through. I liked it that his daughters looked truly concerned but never believed that his life was in any real danger, despite his protestations, but that Luke was absolutely torn by it. The highlight may have been Luke confessing that he had broken the glass coffee table, tearfully believing it may be his last chance to come clean with his dad. “The one you swore you didn’t break, and then we blamed Esperanza and fired her, and she stole a turkey at Thanksgiving for her family and got deported?” And Claire dressing up for the town’s sexy firemen gave Phil plenty of great lines.
On a final note, with about 10.2 millions people who watched “Up All Night” on January 6, “Modern Family” scored its highest ratings in both total viewers and adults 18-49 since its premiere.