This episode was a perfect example of why I love this show. It took a very basic premise and really explored all its potential. I was chuckling through the whole thing. Sometimes it seems like sitcoms try to go too big, and the best episodes are the ones that narrow their focus. This episode was the strongest of the season so far for me.
The three adult couples are all planning to go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant, and the kids are staying at home. All three couples are really late to dinner, which results in their losing their reservation and having tacos instead. And that's it. That's the basic plot. But its tight focus is what made it so strong.
Gloria is taking forever to get ready, and Jay is increasingly annoyed. He doesn't want to yell, because that will only make her take even longer. Eventually, Gloria admits that she likes being late so she can make an entrance, which she does on two separate occasions so that Mitch, Cam, Phil, and Claire can all greet her and complement her dress.
Claire is scared about leaving Luke home alone, and although Phil assures her that he'll be fine, they have to double back to check on him. Luke, paranoid about all the potential dangers laid out for him by his mother, agrees to go and hang out with Haley and Manny. This incident causes Phil and Claire to have a real talk about Phil's more involved parenting role now that Claire is back at work. The biggest misstep of the episode was Phil wearing a tight suit to get Claire's attention. That sort of physical comedy just doesn't do much for me. Oh, and the writers get another little slap on the wrist for a moment when Phil says that Luke is his favorite. That sort of joke just really isn't funny.
Cam and Mitch are late because they wear the same outfit. They both offer to change, but then Cam ends up keeping the outfit on, which causes Mitch to shake up a soda so it explodes on the outfit and Mitch can wear it instead. This plot was made hilarious by Lily's interjections and Alex's amusement. You can tell that poor Lily has had to go through this before.
In the end, the three couples get tacos from a truck and end up having a great time drinking and modeling their outfits (Claire and Mitch, ironically, end up dressed the same). Jay even sings "Midnight Train to Georgia," and everyone else joins in! I liked seeing them all together in a moment of peace like this.
Alex tries to read Little Women to Lily, but Lily's more interested in hair and makeup. Eventually, Alex caves, seemingly enjoying the pampering. At Jay and Gloria's house, Haley sings karaoke with Luke and Manny as her backup singers. These were funny little moments as well.
So, as I said, this was a strong episode over all. It kept to a simple premise and had a lot of really funny jokes. I liked the slightly more serious moments, too, when Mitch and Cam discuss their wedding plans, and Phil and Claire discuss letting Luke grow up.