The Telefile
<i>Modern Family</i>: Goodnight, Gracie. Hello, Series Highlight.

Even if I hated the rest of Season 4 (mostly just seven eighths of it, really), "Goodnight Gracie" was one of the best episodes of Modern Family ever. The plotlines were fun and unpredictable, the ensemble was well-used and the conceit was incredibly sweet. Were there hints of the same problems this show always has, with lazy stereotypes and unadventurous jokes? Sure, but the acting was pretty stellar, and at the end of the day, the episode was fun -- so much so that I already look forward to watching it again. Truthfully, I watched this without realizing it was the finale, and while it could have closed out Season 4 with more material, I'm fine with accepting "Goodnight Gracie" for what it was. Let's take a look at the best lines of the night:

"The different animals she put antlers on for Christmas cards -- inspired."
"Well, it's not the worst thing I've picked up in an airport, but close. What is this, a book club or a Miss America Pageant?"
Eric Stonestreet was on absolute fire here, stirring up everything he could get his hands on, sometimes literally. Cam has been problematic at times because of the writers falling back on his archetype, but the acting and delivery from Stonestreet felt so fresh and committed -- I wouldn't be surprised if this was the episode that the show was planning on submitting to Emmy voters, and if that's indeed the case, he could get another statue. Jesse Tyler Ferguson played his William Jennings Bryan just as well, which deserves special attention since he wasn't dealt nearly as many funny lines as Cam. Frankly, I would much prefer to see the duo in a Modern Family spin-off where they moved to Florida and got in shenanigans like these every week instead of what they've been doing in California.

"She reminds me of my abuela, with her head scarf and petty theft charges."
Gloria's storyline was contrived, but the writers wisely made it more about Mitch while throwing Sofia Vergara this very funny bone. Everybody wins!

"I was shipping off to Vietnam, you had the ass of a young Ann-Margret."
"Yeah, that was me."

I'm really glad we got to see Jay with a woman who wasn't Gloria for once, and I'm even more happy that Jay's virginity-taker didn't reveal that she had Jay's long-lost child or anything. It doesn't hurt that I love a feisty old lady, and that Jay perfectly delivered the line, "Turns out she sent more men off to war than Lyndon Johnson."

"When I wanted to learn how to ski, she knit me a sweater. When I wanted to be a marine biologist, she knit me a sweat with a whale on it."
My heart fell for Phil and his dad, who were both so adorable in this episode, and I laughed out loud at Claire's vacuum-selling lie. Terrific performances here, especially when we found out Phil had been pocketing bread to feed the ducks.

"I love Frank, but he'll follow anything with a casserole."
Rest in peace, Gracie. May your spirit live on and make Alex even better in Season 5... and keep the Manny presence as light as it was here.

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