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Strangers on a Treadmill


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Comedy/Romance/, USA, 2010, 21 min.

Synopsis Claire (Julie Bowen) doesn't have the heart to tell Phil (Ty Burrell) that he isn't funny. It would probably be a good idea to tell him that before he gives the keynote speech at SCARB...Southern California Annual Realtor's Banquet. ("I think they know what it is.") Phil has to replace Gil Thorpe (the comic strip?), who is out sick. Claire blames herself because she laughs at Phil's jokes, even when they're not funny. Still, it has to be better than Mitchell's (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) problem with Cameron: Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) wears bicycle shorts. (And the people who keep saying this show is a rip-off of (Arrested Development) have a bit of ammunition now, as they cover the part of Cameron that, really, Mitchell should have the exclusive rights to.) Mitchell brings up the problem while he's doing troga (treadmill & yoga...didn't you know that?) to Claire. They decide to handle each sibling's problem. Mitchell will talk to Phil, and Claire will talk to Cameron. Because what could go wrong?While Jay (Ed O'Neill) tries to avoid going to the 15th birthday party of one of his employees' daughters...which naturally, Gloria (Sofía Vergara) will drag him to kicking and screaming...Alex (Ariel Winter) has the opportunity to hang out with a popular girl in school, Mackenzie. Mackenzie is giving Alex the runaround, and Haley (Sarah Hyland) feels that will damage the family reputation. She decides it's time to convert Alex from smart to popular so she can hang out with that crowd.HALEY: You are such a geek! Do you want to be smart or do you want to be popular?Alex concedes she wants to be popular. Lesson 1: Haley tells Alex to hang up on Mackenzie when she calls. Alex doesn't want to do it, but Haley will hold her mobile phone hostage until she does. Alex succeeds but feels awful about it.HALEY: If it was easy, everybody would be popular.Claire gently broaches the subject of Cameron's bicycle shorts...while he's wearing them. She tries, and Cameron thanks her for her honesty. Then he goes into his room and cries. Meanwhile, Mitchell hears another one of Phil's jokes for his speech. Luke (Nolan Gould) loves it, naturally. But Mitchell chickens out and says he loves it, too.At the party, Gloria mingles with the crowd (and looks hot in the process, of course). But Jay enlists Manny's help to prove he knows his employees. Jay bribes Manny (Rico Rodriguez) to introduce himself to each of the employees so Jay learns their names. A good plan...only all three of them accidentally walked into the wrong party. They were at an engagement party instead of the Quinceańera. Of course, Jay doesn't know this and tries to introduce her to a couple of his employees.Mitchell is back at the house, and Cameron, his bicycle shorts, and his blurry circle are all up in arms about what Claire said to him. Mitchell pretends to back him, and Claire calls to chew him out. Mitchell defends Cam and his shorts to the hilt until he goes outside, then half-apologizes for telling Phil he is this generation's Richard Pryor. He thinks he doesn't have to be sorry, since Cameron was still wearing the stupid bicycle shorts. And overhearing him tell Claire about them. And Cameron returns to his room to cry.Claire knows she has to own up to telling Phil he's not funny. That, or she can steal the notes for his speech from his coat pocket. Cameron is still ticked at Mitchell, but Mitch tries to tell him that he wanted to be honest with Cam. He also wants Cam to say anything he wants about his appearance. Cameron tells Mitchell he hates the beard. ("Wow, you had that bullet in the chamber.") It was a sucker punch to the gonads, but Mitchell owns up to it since he started it. He goes to shave the beard, since his boyfriend doesn't like it. But Cam stops him...one stroke of the razor late, but it could be worse. Cameron was feeling insecure because he thought Mitchell was way better-looking than him, but Mitch apologizes. Cam says he can make it up by doing his shoulders, so Mitch gets the razor out. ("I meant a massage. What are you saying?!?")Alex has done such a good job ignoring Mackenzie, Haley feels like she has an actual sister. Mackenzie finally calls back, and Alex continues to act aloof, saying she might be able to come to the party, but she may have to do homework. Oops. Then Haley panics, which causes Alex to panic, and Alex is back to being smart again instead of popular.Phil freaks out at losing his notes, but Claire tells him to just speak from the heart. He goes up there, starts by thanking the SCARB board, his family, and Gil Thorpe's colon. Which got laughter. ("Phil Dunphy is no straight guy.") It turns out shooting from the hip makes him very funny.Jay is happy to have met all of his employees, even though they weren't. He was so happy, in fact, "El Jefe" picks up the bar tab for everybody at the engagement party. He wants to make a speech, but the lovely 15-year-old wants to dance. Only she's 22, and that's not her father dancing with her. Certainly not when "dad" puts his hand on the girl's behind and kisses her passionately. And Jay can't believe the crowd is applauding it.Phil and Claire return home and Phil thinks Claire is Fredo.PHIL: I know it was you, Claire. You stole my index cards.She apologizes profusely because she thought she was protecting him. Phil loves that she worries about him.CLAIRE: Sometimes I think my job is to make sure you guys don't fall on your faces.PHIL: That's a hard job at the Dunphy house. But maybe your job is to pick us back up when we fall. You're good at that.Someone could use that right now: Alex, who was crying in the middle of the living room after scaring her friends away.

Directed by Scott Ellis  

Starring Ed O'Neill, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, more...

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