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Undeck the Halls, Indeed: "Modern Family" Christmas Episode Hits Its Mark

Most Christmas specials have some sort of lesson to impart to their viewers, whether that's Rudolph accepting who is he (light-up red nose and all) or Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang learning the true (non-commercialized) meaning of Christmas.

It's rare for me to add something to my yearly rotation of Christmas specials, but every now and then something new (2008's Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special) manages to become a new tradition.

Traditions and lessons were the main thrust of last night's phenomenal episode of ABC's Modern Family ("Undeck the Halls"), written by Dan O'Shannon and directed by Randall Einhorn, which has made the leap onto my yearly holiday special rotation after a fantastic installment that threaded together three separate storylines into one perfect portrait about the blessings and curses of the holiday season.

As Jay struggles to recreate his family's Christmas traditions and encounters resistance from Gloria and Manny (who want to continue their own Colombian holiday traditions), Phil and Claire threaten to cancel Christmas altogether unless the kids come clean about who left a burn mark on the couch and Mitchell and Cameron invite the mall Santa they got fired to have dinner at their house. (And, oh, Cameron has to learn to forgive the members of the The Greensleevers, the caroling group that booted him from their roster. And we get a peek at Phil's dad, here played via iChat by the great Fred Willard.)

In typical Modern Family fashion, there's heart and humor in a winning package. Jay learns to accept that his new family might not want to continue the traditions he enjoyed with his old family (and might have some new ones of their own to impart). Manny reveals that all he wants for Christmas is a burgundy dinner jacket. Cameron learns about the joy of forgiveness (and about sucker punches when the recipient of said forgiveness is naughty rather than nice). Phil and Claire learn that their kids aren't so bad--Alex takes the fall for the burn mark even though it wasn't her fault--and that they shouldn't be so quick to make huge proclamations. (Or Claire does, anyway. Phil promises a trip to Italy for the whole family.)

Of course, they all come together for a heartfelt meal on Christmas Day, which includes their family's traditional fare as well as some buñelos, courtesy of Gloria and Manny. Pajamas donned on Christmas morning, food consumed with family, and the spirit of the holiday season warmly ensconced in the hearts of each of the members of Pritchett clan, "Undeck the Halls" was a modern-day Christmas classic, one that I'll be watching again and again in years to come.

It's a story about lessons learned, families united, and new traditions emerging out of old ones and it all coalesces into a perfect (snow) storm of holiday spirit. Thanks for creating a new tradition of my own, Modern Family. See you again next year.

Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9 pm ET/PT on ABC.


Cerise said…
Such a great episode! It was sweet and funny and everything a great Christmas special should be. And Fred Willard is perfect as Phil's dad. I'm assuming we're going to see more of him?
Anonymous said…
The only people I see that love this show is TV Critics.
Magnolia said…
I love this show, and I'm not a TV critic.

Great post! I especially loved the traditional practical jokes that Gloria and Manny introduced.
Unknown said…
I'm not a critic as well and I watch this show every week. It's one of the few shows I'll even watch "live" and not on DVR.

Their Christmas episode was spot on and in line with the rest of the episodes. I'll be adding this one to me Christmas TV faves.

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