'Modern Family': Shelley Long Returns, With Matt Dillon and Fizbo

This week's episode featured two big guest stars and one very enthusiastic clown.

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Ain't no party like a Fizbo party, and last night's episode saw the return of our favorite clown on Modern Family. In honor of dear Lily's birthday, Mitch and Cam arrange a Princess Party and all the drama that would accompany such a party, does.

Cam wants to break out his alter ego Fizbo, while Mitch wants him to just enjoy the day as a dad, accusing Cam of not respecting party themes. Over at the Dunphy house, Shelley Long was back as Dede, Claire and Mitchell's passive-aggressive, borderline neurotic mother. Phil and the kids create a plan of attack to help make the experience as painless as possible for Claire—who turns to wine to cope with her mother's antics—tactics which include Luke pretending to be a cute five-year-old with a lisp.

However, Dede throws the gang a curveball when she doesn't arrive alone; she ran into Claire's high school ex, the limo driver Robbie (played by a very greasy-looking Matt Dillon with pierced ears), and invited him to dinner. Phil thinks Dede is trying to make him feel like a failure and Claire thinks Dede is trying to ruin her life. Then they see Dede and Robbie making out, and all bets are off.

The rest of the episode brings the families together at the Princess Party. Though she'd thought to avoid conflict with Dede and sit the party out (to Jay's utter delight), Gloria decides to take one for the team and be there for the family, with the help of some Xanax. Of course, the underlying root of the Dede-Robbie romance is not really about Robbie's secret fantasy of hooking up with Claire's mom, but really about Dede's inability to feel like her move away from the family to "find herself" was justified.

Oh, also, midway through the party Mitch let Cam change into Fizbo and all was good again.

This episode was full of zingy one-liners, tailored to perfection for each of the characters; so, in honor of the fabulous writing on the show, here were some of the best from last night:

Haley: "I have a learning disability. The letters jump around on the page and appear backwards."
Claire: "Honey, we had you tested six times. Trust me, I was praying for dyslexia."

Mitch: "Monica can't come to Lily's birthday party, her mom is going to be in Chicago. "
Cam: "Oh, that's fantastic! What part is she playing?"
Mitch: "The...city...of...Chicago."

Gloria, to Jay: "We bought Lily a beautiful birthday gift!"
Manny: "Yeah, I was pushing for a cashmere sweater."
Gloria: "Look, Jay. It's a talking storybook. We record ourselves reading it and then at night Lily can hear our voices before she goes to sleep!"
Jay: "Terrible idea."
Manny: "Unlike the timelessness of cashmere."
Gloria: "Enough with the cashmere!"

Robbie, to Claire: "Maybe a fuzzy navel wine cooler will loosen you up. Sure used to."

After an especially awkward, innuendo-filled dinner, Robbie excuses himself: "Yeah, well I better get going. I have an early morning run to get a celebrity client. Don't want to say who, but let's just say that if I'm late, I'll be in Jeopardy."
Alex: [gasps] "Who is Alex Trebek?!"
Robbie: "Uh, he's a game show host. Why?
Alex: "...no reason."

Having initially decided to skip Lily's party to avoid a confrontation with Dede, Gloria changes her mind: Gloria: "We cannot let other people make us miss important family events. I'm going to miss Alex's graduation, all of Haley's weddings, just because of Dede?"

Mitch: "I was wrong, every kid wants a clown for a dad."