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Philips Pronto on ‘Modern Family’: Worst Product Placement Ever?

Look what happens when you try to program a remote control yourself. Moral of the the story: Hire a pro!


Modern Family is a hilarious show. Unfortunately for Philips, however, the company’s Pronto remote control is the butt of a giant joke in an episode that aired on Jan. 20 (season 1, episode 13).

Not since Ozzy Osborne gave Panja (formerly AMX, laterly AMX) a very public bashing on national TV have we seen a product placement so bad.

The Modern Family starts with an exasperated Mom who can’t turn on the TV with her touchscreen remote control -- a remote that was programmed by her husband (who probably doesn't ask for directions, either). Here’s how the episode unravels:

Dad: I just installed a sweet home theater system in the family room. The trouble is, Claire [the wife] struggles with technology of any kind – remotes, cell phones, computers.

image

Where were you pointing at?

Mom: At the TV.

Dad: Honey, no I’m sorry it’s a home theater.

Mom: What, so I can’t point it at the TV when I want to watch TV?

Dad: No, you point it at the receiver

Mom: What’s a receiver?

Dad: OK, imagine our home theater system is a human body so that the receiver is the brain. The TV is a face.

And later…

image

Mom: I’ve got a bunch of moms over here who want to watch a talent show DVD and I can’t get the sound to work.

Dad: Is there a picture?

Mom: Yes

Dad: Did you do that thing where you get frustrated and you start pressing all the buttons?

Mom: No. [lying] ...

I have a theory that Phil installs overly complicated things in the house just so he has excuse to talk to me like a child.

Last month was the thermostat. …

image

Dad [sung to the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus"]:
The snowflake button makes it cold cold cold
Set temperature makes it hold hold hold
The little flame makes it hot hot hot

image
Dad: Why would you do that to a brand new, very expensive remote?

Mom: Because I lost my temper and it didn’t work; therefore, it’s useless.

Dad: Honey, when it comes to anything electronic, you’re not exactly the best student.

Mom: I am very smart. I had a 4.0 in college. …

Dad: Seriously, Claire, you owe me an apology for breaking that.

Mom: OK, Phil, I apologize for breaking the world’s worst remote … that you bought … stupidly.

Dad: Excuse me, but the experts at CNET.com rated it “the best remote.” They gave it 3 ½ mice.

Mom: Well, I have an idea. Let’s invite the gang from CNET over and your old buddies from cheerleading and we can have a nerd party. …

Dad: I’m going to buy a new remote, the same remote. And just to prove how wrong you are, I’m going to teach our dumbest kid to use it in 20 minutes or less.

image

Haley: Dad, this is so stupid. I watch TV on my computer. Why would I have to learn this?

Dad: Because your mom doesn’t think you can.

Haley: Nobody can.

Dad: Haley, listen to me. I know this seems impossible, but this is for all those times that mom told you she was right and you knew she was wrong.

Haley: I’ll do it.

Dad: That’s my girl.

Dad: Haley, you ready?

Haley: Let’s do this.

image

Mom: Turn on the TV

[Haley points to rack, turns on TV]

Dad: Nice

Mom: Mute it

[Haley succeeds]

Mom: Unmute it

[Haley succeeds]

Mom: Put on a DVD.

[Haley succeeds]

Mom: skip forward

Haley: Wait

[Mom gloats]

Haley [succeeds]: OK

Mom: Back to TV

Dad: Faaaaace [Is that some kind of gloating term?]

image

Mom: Don’t get all cocky Phil. Let’s see what happens to little Haley when I do this. [Presses button on TV; picture goes static.]

Haley: Dad, what do I do?

Dad: Don’t panic. We went through this. Just think.

Mom [gloating]: Give up? Give up, admit defeat.

Haley: OK, let’s see. You put the remote on to TV mode, and then push input till you get
HDMI 1 and [succeeding]…. Woo hoo, I did it! [Merriment ensues]

Watch the complete episode of Modern Family


That was then: Ozzy Osborne can't work the f-ing touchscreen.




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Article Topics

Blogs · Home Automation and Control · Universal Remotes · Remote Controls · Modern Family · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

12 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Seth_J  on  01/25  at  09:07 AM

Summary: Hire a pro.

Posted by Rob  on  01/25  at  11:26 AM

A paintbrush in the hands of a monkey will not get you a Rembrandt. However, a gadget improperly used will turn you into a monkey.

Posted by Bill  on  01/25  at  09:15 PM

Every guy in the world will want one!

Posted by Joe  on  01/26  at  07:39 AM

I did not see it as a bad thing ... even Haley could do it.

Posted by Thomas  on  01/26  at  02:11 PM

The truest testament to hiring a pro was the fact that Haley had to scroll through inputs to get to the correct one…a pro would/should install gear that has discrete input selection.  Oh, and a pro would/should install the extender that allows the technologically challenged to point at the TV, the rack, the neighbor, etc.

Posted by Adidas4275  on  02/02  at  10:30 PM

I am not a “pro” I am a home user that is into DIY A/V hometheater.  I use Homeseer for automation and i own and use a Logitech 890 RF remote…. my wife and I watch the show and she said “I am glad our remote works”

made me happy.  I have my setup on avsforum and you can check out

I think that the lesson is….... Think of your wife and kids when buying stuff and setting it up and not you.

and if that mean hire a pro then great!

Posted by asudan  on  02/09  at  09:53 AM

I think the best punch line would have been to show the wife reminding the husband what happened when he didn’t hire a pro to fix the sink, or to install sprinklers or something that he screwed up. Then cut to “honey I told you to just hire a professional.. you are a lawyer/surgeon/tax accountant, not a home theater expert!”

Instead they just prove what happens 90 percent of the time. The manufacturers make it seem like anyone can do the programming and crap programming is what you get. There is a reason I don’t do my own plumbing repair!

Posted by anyhomeneeds  on  02/11  at  05:58 PM

Very cool, except for the fact that it’s a broken Harmony 1000, not a Pronto that’s broken in the picture.  I guess there’s a tech on the set that couldn’t let a good remote be destroyed.

Julie, you should have caught that.

Posted by Whitevan Lifestyle  on  02/11  at  11:28 PM

You are correct! That is definately a harmony 1000 and I have to say it looks good like that! smile

Posted by Skoepie  on  01/19  at  11:19 AM

We’re very happy with our Pronto. Our son even extended the usability with some very nice programming, and it’s in use now for more than 5 years!! grin

Posted by Devils Advocate  on  01/20  at  03:50 PM

I do design and install work for a company that installs Crestron systems.
We used Crestron in our old house and planned on using it again when we moved. 
I was crazy busy for a time after the move and quickly threw a Harmony One in our basement media room so the wife could use it…temporarily.
Well, over a year later it won’t be leaving.  She much prefers this $200 device to the Crestron “big, heavy slow” (her words) remote.  The old system was well programmed by a top notch Crestron Programmer and worked as it should by the way.
I asked her if she missed lighting control….she rolled her eyes.
So despite having access to Crestron and RTI at cost, in my own home I now have Logitech and Sonos.  Can’t turn the fountain off and on from bed anymore…but really, who cares.  Got the Sonos update for Sirius radio the other day, free of course.  Wouldn’t trade it for any Crestron music system at any price.
The world is changing, that is for sure.

Posted by 39CentStamp  on  02/24  at  12:37 PM

Look closely..  pronto was the remote used but at the end its a harmony laying smashed in the floor.

HA!

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