The producers of “Modern Family” have been searching for a spinoff for a while now. And although those things rarely are sure bets, they could do worse than centering one on Leslie Higgins, the Mandalay Bay butler played by Stephen Merchant in this week’s episode (9 p.m. Wednesday, KTNV-TV, Channel 13).
We’ve had plenty of bad Vegas-based series. Isn’t it time for something that might exude a little quality for a change?
Merchant is the highlight of the episode, titled simply “Las Vegas.” A bath butler since the early ’90s, Higgins pushes the hotel’s “outrageously decadent baths” on the extended Pritchett-Dunphy-Mitchell clan. “I should just point out, though,” he cautions, “that our Pharoah’s Fantasy does take a dash longer, normally, because our Nubian lives offsite.”
The episode takes a few more liberties with Mandalay Bay. Cam (Eric Stonestreet) sneaks off to a “Bananas and Cabanas” pool party at the Moorea Beach Club. There’s a Scottish-themed male review known as The Kilty Pleasures. And Jay (Ed O’Neill) becomes obsessed with scoring a room on the hotel’s secret 63rd floor, better known as the Excelsior Plus level.
Elsewhere, Phil (Ty Burrell) gets a little too excited about his audition for a secret magic society headed by guest star Patton Oswalt, and Claire (Julie Bowen) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) hit the tables.
Overall, it’s a fairly standard episode of “Modern Family,” full of misunderstandings, sneaking around, bigger misunderstandings, wordplay and giant misunderstandings.
But it does, most likely unintentionally, lay the groundwork for a Vegas-based spinoff that would be full of potential.
There’s no telling what sorts of trouble Merchant’s Higgins or his clients could get themselves into on a weekly basis, especialy if the producers could convince Oswalt to stick around.
After all, as Mitchell points out, “I guess I figure whatever mischief one might get into in Vegas kind of remains here within the limits of the city.”