"Modern Family" Fizbo (TV Episode 2009) Poster

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Like a hilarious whodunnit (or whatdunnit)
jimjo121630 November 2009
The great thing about this episode is that it starts by establishing that someone is in the hospital and the family is coming to see if he's okay. The rest of the story is told in flashback. Throughout the course of the show the viewer is kept guessing who's hurt and what happened. We know it's a "he", and we can whittle the possibilities down by process of elimination, but up until the final two minutes there are still a handful of possibilities.

The entire episode is full of potential danger, building the tension. Was it the crossbow? Was it the reptiles? The zip-line? The rock wall? What kind of injury is it? Could the tough guy at the gas station have something to do with it? All of these possibilities are suggested to the viewer to throw them off the scent and keep them guessing.

Which family member got hurt and how, exactly, did it happen?

The story revolves around Luke's birthday party. His birthday often gets lost in the Thanksgiving shuffle, so his parents decide to throw a giant extravaganza for him this year, complete with inflatable bouncy-bounces, rock climbing walls, a reptile wrangler, etc. This opens the possibility for all sorts of trouble and feeds into the lighthearted mystery.

"Modern Family" is a solid new comedy. I felt it started strong out of the gate, but I hadn't been as into the later episodes (although they had their moments). "Fizbo", the ninth episode of the show's first season, was enjoyable because of the "whatdunnit" aspect that tied together all of the crazy goings-on.
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Modern Family delivers a 'good clown'
sharky_5523 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Fizbo's cold opening is a little different from all the other Modern Family episodes, jumping straight into the aftermath of a horrible incident by presenting the family waiting at the hospital. The structure of the episode also caters to this mystery by slowly revealing bit by bit the reaction of everyone as they wait for the doctor's news. Most sitcoms have a few of these episodes where they might vary the structure via a narrative device like flashbacks to present the plot in a unique way, but it's not always done right, or necessary. Fizbo however sets up the reveal by making the audience look left and right.

From the get go there are many clues that hint at the misfortune at the very end. A crossbow, a 25 feet rock climbing tower, a poisonous scorpion, even a zipline which Phil manages to continuously get in the way of. It's genius to bypass all these but also include them in the final sequence of events which leads Luke breaking his arm by falling on some beads. The climax manages to not rely just on pure accidents like most shows would, but incorporates several character's mannerisms into the hilarious mishap, like Phil's fear of clowns, Cam's moment of ironic fear and the wooing of Manny's female friend.

The air-tight script allows such characters and events to come together in such a perfect way. All the story lines come together but are all allowed their own time to develop and fit seamlessly into the overarching birthday party plot. The goofiness of Dylan allows for Haley to release the scorpion and set up the chain of events. Fizbo arrives and begins to delight and entertain, giving Bianca the toy balloon doggie that later is important in Manny winning her affections, which only happens because of Jay's crossbow being misfired because Phil is running from Fizbo. And in the end, Luke gets a cool comb to scratch inside his cast. It's so rare that a show like Modern Family, with so many characters in the main cast, manages to incorporate every single one in a meaningful and funny way but writers Brad Walsh & Paul Corrigan succeed beyond doubt.

To do all this but still maintain hilarious moment after moment is very impressive. Ty Burrell's reactions to each Fizbo appearance is exactly the sort of phobia we'd expect Phil to overreact to, while the innocence of Manny's flirting shines through: "I've tried everything; opening doors, having a milk sent over in the cafeteria.." Cam's Fizbo persona is probably the scene stealer. The clown manages to switch from humour to seriousness and back so easily; pulling out a novelty clock after standing up to the gas station jerk is comedy gold. And we still recognise the Cam underneath it all; he tries unsuccessfully to humour his father-in-law, and cause mayhem at the sight of the scorpion, just before Mitchell's recount of his bravery earlier in the day. Modern Family's comedic timing, like usual, is spot on.

Fizbo knows how to reign it in at the end, even if the trademark voice-over over soft guitar still occurs. It manages to tie it up without being over-sentimental and still offering a few laughs. One of the Modern Family classics.

Stray observations:

  • Even minor character's like the Reptile Lady get great lines. "I used to have a cat."

  • "I've finally decided what we're making." "Kids bored?"
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A birthday with a clown
jotix10026 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Someone, we are never told, is in the hospital. Jay is a nervous wreck. In flashbacks we are taken to the preparations of Luke's birthday party. Being so close to Thanksgiving, Claire and Phil have not figured out what direction to go. Claire wants to have a sort of arts and craft party, while Phil is looking more into renting a rock climbing set up where he knows Luke and his guests will have a blast.

Cam, who has brought his karaoke playing machine for the party, is beside himself as he learns the Dunphys will not include a clown for the entertainment. Well, unknown to his many talents, he used to be Fizbo the clown. He will not be shut off from coming to the party as the famous Fizbo. Unknown to Cam, Phil has a sort of phobia about clowns because of a bad experience when he was a child.

At Jay's house, he is getting ready with the crossbow he's gotten for Luke. Gloria objects thinking it will be too much for Luke, who is always in some sort of accident. Manny who will be at the party socializing asks Jay's advice in how to tell jokes. Jay wants the boy to be funny as well as do the right thing.

The party preparations include Jungle Tanya, an 'animal woman' who brings all kinds of critters to show the young ones animals, but Phil feels she has brought some species that are best suited for older audiences. Even Dylan, Haley's boyfriend, is fascinated by the animals. The party is in full swing and kids are all over enjoying themselves. A scorpion gets loose and there is a panic. Luke trips on some beads from Claire's arts and craft table breaking an arm and lands in the hospital.

Jason Winer directed this episode that Brad Walsh and Paul Corrigan wrote. This installment is in line with what the creators wanted to do with this program. It is light, it is funny and it is entertaining. The different cultures mix well together.
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