It's been a while, and I should finally be over the cancellation of 'Arrested Development,' right? Well, I'm not. I loved that show more than maybe any other show that's ever been on TV. 'Arrested Development' was one of the most clever shows we've ever had the pleasure of seeing, except maybe it became too smart for its own good or too clever for the masses, and with anemic ratings it was canceled. I never thought there would be another show that could rival 'Arrested Development.' I was wrong.
ABC's freshman comedy, 'Modern Family,' takes the clever writing and situations that made 'Arrested Development' so funny, mixes it with the mockumentary filming style of 'The Office,' and still manages to be wholly original.
It's hard to do a "review" of the series of 'Modern Family' because it's actually pretty hard to explain what everyone is up to. Much like 'Seinfeld,' 'Modern Family' does so much with so little. It's not quite a "show about nothing," but it can almost be categorized in that same area.
The show focuses on the Pritchett and Dunphy families. The father of the Pritchett family is Jay (Ed O'Neill), who has just married a smoking hot woman half his age, whose name is Gloria (Sofía Vergara). Gloria has a 10-year-old son named Manny (Rico Rodriguez). Manny's a hopeless romantic who is always trying to woo the older girls in his school. Jay has two kids with families of their own. Jay's son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) is in a gay relationship with Cam (Eric Stonestreet). Cam is flamboyant, while Mitchell is reserved. Mitchell thinks everyone is out to undermine his homosexual lifestyle, while Cam is a free-wheeling lover of life and Meryl Streep. Cam and Mitchell have just adopted a baby named Lily from Vietnam. Jay's daughter Claire (Julie Bowen) is married to real estate "mogul" Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell). They have three kids: Luke (Nolan Gould), who is dumb enough to get his head stuck in the banister regularly; Haley (Sarah Hyland), who is pretty but not much smarter than Luke; and Alex (Ariel Winter), who is the brains of the family. I think I've covered everyone. Whew!
The magic of 'Modern Family' is the interaction between characters and the way they carry on inside jokes throughout the season. From Jay's favorite line every time Manny writes another love song, "Of course you did," to the broken stair in the Dunphy household that causes all sorts of problems, the subtle humor of this show is where it really shines.
The past Emmy Awards only solidified what us fans already knew after spending time with this show. 'Modern Family' took home awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Eric Stonestreet), Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Comedy Series.
'Modern Family' really has no ceiling as a TV show. A lot of shows out there start out with situations that seem like they're going to take a finite amount of time to solve, and then what? 'Modern Family' deals with just that, a modern family. They have troubles, disagreements, and confrontations. The writing of the show makes it hilarious; the situations make it real.
Like I said, it's hard to really "review" a show like this. It speaks for itself. In short, my review could be as short and sweet as this: 'Modern Family' is by far the funniest and most clever comedy on TV right now. So go watch it.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The set comes packaged on three BD-50 Blu-ray discs. They are housed in a standard-sized keepcase, with a swinging arm in the middle that has two disc hubs back to back.
As far as handheld camera comedies go these days, this 1080p presentation of 'Modern Family' looks really well done. It's easy for shows with such haphazard filmmaking techniques to look a little weak when it comes to the final HD product, but not this show. Even though the show is aired on ABC, this set is put together by Fox. Fox's logo is all over the box, and there's not a Buena Vista logo to be found. This had me a bit worried and confused at first. Disney puts out some great Blu-ray products, and coming from ABC, I naturally thought it would be a Disney/Buena Vista Blu-ray production. Fox has done a great job, though, giving the first season of 'Modern Family' the treatment it deserves.
The show is full of color, which always looked good during its HD broadcast. Here it glows even more. The colors are vibrant and lively. From the greenery of the Dunphy's suburban neighborhood to the reddish orange tinge of Cam's kimono, the colors here are just fantastic. Detail is superb, too. Check out the intricate woven pattern on the Dunphy's couch; each and every stitch is visible, without the least bit of aliasing ruining its presentation.
There are times during "hidden camera" shots in the cars where contrast is all over the place. This is mainly because of the way they're shooting the scene, with a realistic hidden camera feel. Unchecked light from outside bleeds into the cars obscuring details, faces, and body parts. This can be forgiven, though, because of the type of filming that is taking place. Much of the show takes place during well-lit hours, but there are a few scenes that call upon blacks to be dark and inky, like when Phil and Luke explore the family's crawl space. When scenes turn dark, we're still given a wonderfully detailed world, with shadows providing depth to the picture instead of obscuring it.
The entire season is free of source noise; it's as clean as they come. Fans of the show are going to be ecstatic to see their favorite show presented even better than it was during its run on ABC (and it looked really good on TV, too).
Like most TV comedies, 'Modern Family' is heavy on the talking, which means a very front-centric approach to sound design. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation is perfect when it comes to intelligible dialogue. 'Modern Family' has a lot of instances where characters will whisper or off-handedly spout out a comment that's only meant for people who are listening for it. If you weren't really paying attention, you wouldn't catch every single joke there is to catch, but the perfect dialogue prioritization in this soundtrack makes it easy for us to catch everything each character is saying.
Surrounds aren't as engaged as one would like, even during crowded house parties, weddings, or the noisy lobbies of hotels. Still, the surrounds do a nice job at giving a nice home to the exciting original music that was created for the series.
Panning effects work smoothly, like when Jay is flying his remote control plane and it glides from one side of the screen to the other. You can hear the tiny motor puttering along throughout the soundfield, keeping pace with the plane perfectly.
While this isn't the most engaging sound design, like an action show on TV would provide, this is exactly what you'd want for a show like this. There's really no disappointment to be had here. It sounds even better than the TV broadcast, and in the end that's all you can ask for.
The first thing you'll notice is, sadly, there are no, I repeat no, audio commentaries for any episode. This is really sad, especially for a fan like me who wanted to know how people were cast, how they came up with some of the jokes they came up with, and how the whole show fits together behind the scenes. This is an unfortunate oversight on a set that really could have used some good audio commentaries to complement it.
Much of the special features included are just extra deleted or extended scenes, or deleted family interviews, here and there. Mostly they're just a line or two added on that was cut off most likely to fit the TV runtime. There are quite a few times when you'll feel like Ty Burrell just improvised his lines, and they just edited in the best parts for the show. With the extended scenes, you'll be able to see him continue on with his sometimes insane meandering. It's really funny to watch. Since all of the features on disc one and two consist of the deleted or extended scenes, I'm just going to list them here without really explaining what is included in each scene. Watch them for yourself and enjoy them, just know that you're not going to get much more out of them than what you got from watching the episode with which they're associated.
As far as comedies go, there's nothing that touches 'Modern Family' on TV right now. It's in a league of its own. It's sincere, yet sarcastic; sweet, yet hilarious. It's a perfect blend of pratfall comedy mixed with colorful characters, witty writing, and silly situations. I love 'Modern Family' unequivocally. It's a show that everyone who watches TV must tune into. This great Blu-ray release shows studios' willingness to put out a fantastic show on Blu-ray, but fans need to do their part and invest. Let me tell you, this is a great season set in which to invest. The only corners that were cut were the disappointing state of no audio commentaries. Other than that, the video is tremendous, the audio is as good as it gets for a show of this ilk, and the special features still do the show justice even without any commentaries. For fans this is a must own; for everyone else out there, this show comes highly recommended.