Modern Family, "Travels with Scout": dude, you should label those sticks

Quick Take: Modern Family, "Travels with Scout"
"Luke, stay. Luke, stay!" – Phil and Claire to Luke

Review: Modern Family, "Travels with Scout"
(S0121) While not an absolute off the handle laughfest, this was one of the most balanced, entertaining, and funny episodes of Modern Family to date. Balanced in the sense that every major cast member got to do something interesting or funny. And to top it all off we had the legendary Fred Willard rejoining the action as Phil's dad.

I really liked that the setup of Frank Dunphy (Willard) hiding some kind of sad news about his marriage (or worse) turned out to be nothing more than his attachment to little shaggy dog Scout. In a way, I think we're at the point in TV land where we expect the shocking/disturbing/outlandish so it was sweet to see Frank, who I think most people would elect to have as an honorary dad in about a second and a half, simply sad at having to give away his friendly companion. It was sweet, too, in that way that Modern Family kind of sneaks up on you most weeks, to see Claire (Julie Bowen) nearly distraught at having to give back the dog that she had been grumpily enduring throughout most of the episode. Ty Burell, who plays Phil, had a lot of great scenes with Willard in which they did the light banter and joking around as cover for father-son bonding.

The funniest moments of the episode stemmed from the arrival of Frank and Scout and centered squarely on the young shoulders of Luke (Nolan Gould). Gould was gold in pulling off multiple antics in which he literally symbolizes the poorly trained doggie of the family. The killer moment came when he became trapped in the dog's crate and announced that he needed to be released as he certainly couldn't go to the bathroom in here (dog owners who have crate trained will instantly get a second level of hilarity out of this).

The other storylines – Manny (Rico Rodriguez) getting taken to a horror movie by Jay (Ed O'Neill) and then getting frightened by "demons" in the house, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) filling in on the drums for Haley's (Sarah Hyland) boyfriend's band – were also quite fun. Even if it was a bit telegraphed, the actor who showed up at the house to prove to Manny that "it was just a movie" paid off quite nicely when he was forced to tap on the window (the doorbell being on the fritz, you see) wielding a fake but very real-looking machete. "Hey, are you Manny? I'm here for you! Look what I got," Ben Dugen cries! Stories revolving around Cam/Stonestreet are always a good time as well, and it was great to see him break out to rock out on the drums. Which of course has to lead to an epic 10-minute drum solo. Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) ends up lamenting that he could have seen Cam have "his moment," run off to the fundraiser he was missing, and then get back in time to see the end of his moment.

More thoughts on "Travels with Scout":

  • "Hey, what's the big sweater at a concert – is that a gay thing?" – Jay
  • "Our boyfriends totally rock!" – Haley to Mitchell
  • "This is awkward… Oh, awkward for me." – Cam, on learning that his position as rock band drummer would not be a permanent one
  • "I can't believe he took my dog." – Claire
  • "Yes, that's what the disabled lesbian shaman who blessed Lily's room said, too." – Mitchell, upon hearing Cam talk about what a traditional family they are

    Video: Modern Family, "Travels with Scout"
    Catch the familial modernity on Hulu, while available:

    Recap: Modern Family, "Travels with Scout"
    Claire is suspicious when Phil's father shows up for an expected visit; Manny is traumatized by a horror movie.

    From Around the Web: Modern Family, "Travels with Scout"

  • Buddy TV: Best John Steinbeck shout-out of the week: The show's title, which recalls the book, "Travels with Charley," about a road trip the writer made with his dog as a companion. 
  • IGN: As I've stated before, the choice to cast Fred Willard as Phil's father was inspired. Both have the same dark, squared-faced look and their line delivery is incredibly similar.
  • By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

    About the author

    Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at] 

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