With the rise of work based comedies and reality television, it was only a few short years ago that some observers began declaring the family-based sitcom a thing of the past. That all changed with the 2009 premiere of Modern Family. The brainchild of Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, Modern Family is one of the funniest shows on television and has become a multi-Emmy winner.
The series focuses on the Pritchett clan. Jay (Ed O’Neill), the family patriarch, is a wealthy curmudgeon in his sixties, still adjusting to his second marriage to the much younger Gloria (Sophia Vergara). Far from a wallflower, Gloria is a voluptuous Columbian immigrant nearly half his age. Her son from a previous relationship, Manny (Rico Rodriguez), is a precocious middle schooler with a taste for the finer things in life. Try as he may, Jay has no clue what to do with the youngster. The one thing he is certain of: the butterball of a kid needs to toughen up so he doesn’t get picked on in school.
Claire (Julie Bowen), Jay’s daughter from his first marriage of 35 years, is married to Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell), a self professed “cool dad.” A real estate agent, Phil doesn’t take life too seriously and loves to have fun. On the other hand, Claire is the disciplinarian, the one who tries to keep a sense of order in the house. The couple has three kids; High school senior Haley (Sarah Hyland) is a total airhead, while her younger sister Alex (Ariel Winter) has all the brains. The youngest, Luke (Nolan Gould), idolizes his dad and the two of them are usually off doing ridiculous “father/son” things, while Claire tries to convince the two girls to do a chore or two.
Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), Jay’s grown son, is a gay environmental lawyer. He lives with his long-time partner Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet), a former birthday clown. They adopted a Vietnamese baby named Lily, whose turning into quite the little pistol. Though Cameron denies it, he’s the flamboyant drama queen, but they both have their moments. Cam does exert his masculine side at times—he stays home with Lily and occasionally gets jealous that Mitchell is more professionally accomplished, but essentially the couple is well matched.
The third season gets off to a hilarious start with the extended family taking a trip to a dude ranch. Between Phil impressing everyone with his cowboy skills, Jay having trouble doing anything right while fending off the advances to Gloria by dude ranch foreman Hank (Tim Blake Nelson) and Mitchell trying to get a feel for “boy stuff” in preparation for the possible adoption of a baby boy, it was clear from the start that Modern Family hadn’t grown stale. Later, the whole clan travels to Disneyland, where more hijinks ensue. Most of the episodes find the families at home, dealing with life’s often ridiculous day-to-day issues. Claire finally gets on Facebook, but is dumbfounded as to why neither of her daughters will accept her friend requests. Haley applies for college admission, Cameron picks up a woman in a bar (on a bet) and Lily starts dropping F-bombs. It’s all just typical stuff for the Pritchett clan.
As anyone who’s ever watched Modern Family knows, the cast is uniformly great. Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet are two of the funniest actors on television right now. In addition to a great cast, look for some excellent guest stars. Arrested Development‘s David Cross turns up as Claire’s political rival and Greg Kinnear as one of Phil’s clients. You’ll also spot Ellen Barkin, Leslie Mann and Jennifer Tilly.
Shown in 720p on ABC, these 1080p 1.78:1 transfers look somewhat sharper than their network counterparts. Colors are vivid, beautifully saturated with accurate flesh tones. Sharpness is spot on and detail is outstanding.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track offers a solid experience, given that this series most important element is the dialogue. Placed in the center channel, voices have been expertly recorded. Ambient sounds can occasionally be heard in the fronts and rears.
English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles are available.
The following special features are included:
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes (1080p, 6:29)
- Destination: Wyoming (1080p, 9:43): The entire cast and crew flew out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the season premiere. We are shown interviews and behind the scenes footage of the production.
- A Day on the Set with Ty (1080p, 5:38): Ty Burrell guides us through a normal day, from morning make-up to rehearsal and beyond. Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston directed the episode they were shooting that day!
- Adventures of the Modern Family Kids (1080p, 3:35): See the kids having fun in Jackson Hole.
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes (1080p, 8:56)
- A Modern Family Christmas (1080p, 5:59): A behind-the-scenes look at the Christmas episode.
- Driving Lessons (1080p, 2:55): A short featurette about Luke and Manny stealing Cam’s car to impress a girl.
- Ed O’Neill Gets a Star (1080p, 16:46): Watch Ed O’Neill get his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes (1080p, 7:14)
- Modern Family Goes to Disneyland Resort (1080p, 3:11): Behind-the-scenes of the special Disney episode.
- Gag Reel (1080p, 8:56): A blooper reel, including outtakes and a montage of sight gags.
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