Fox // 2009 // 513 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 22nd, 2011
"Claire's a perfectionist, which sometimes is a good thing, like when it comes to picking a husband." -- Phil Dunphy
If you've ever wanted to see your family truly reflected on American television...well, you'll probably have to keep waiting. However, if you want to see a comedic exaggeration of your relations, Modern Family is a good place to start. One of the biggest sitcom hits in the past decade, the first season of this groundbreaking show is now on Blu-ray care of Fox Home Entertainment.
Three families come together to shine a light on what makes them a truly Modern Family.
In a faux documentary style, we follow Phil (Ty Burrell, Evolution) and Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen, Lost) and their three children (Ariel Winter, Sarah Hyland, Nolan Gould) through the whirlwind days of school, domestic bliss (so to speak), and the general chaos that comes from being a normal, plutonic American family.
Across town is Claire's brother Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, The Class) and his partner Cameron (Eric Stonestreet, Bad Teacher), a gay couple who have just adopted a baby girl from Vietnam and are learning the trails and tribulations of being new parents.
Finally, there's Claire and Mitchell's gruff but lovable father Jay (Ed O'Neil, Married with Children), his new buxom sassy wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara, The Smurfs), and his old-before-his-time stepson, Manny (Rico Rodriguez).
Together, these three families discover that blood truly is thicker than water...especially when you live in such close proximity!
Modern Family was a hit right out of the gate. In fact, before the first episode even aired, the show was considered the end all, be all of the 2009 fall television season. Often times, when a show is touted as being revolutionary, it's either disappointing or only half as good as the marketers would like to you believe (Lopez Tonight, I'm looking at you). This was the exception to the rule, a truly breakout success that deserved all of the accolades it garnered.
Modern Family takes the style of The Office (another comedic television game changer) and sets it squarely in the living room of three Los Angeles families. The format is nothing new. Other shows had done the "mockumnetary" concept well before this came along. What makes Modern Family different is they cast the show so perfectly you immediately bond with these characters. While these people are obvious exaggerations, they are grounded enough in reality to be relatable. It's a rare show that can both lampoon and balance an emotional core at the same time.
The first season standouts include...well, everyone really. Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy (a funny name in and of itself) is perfect as a father who is as devoted to as he clueless about his wife and children. I knew Burrell primarily from Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake, and it's to the actor's credit that he was able to make me totally forget that character (a selfish cad who you wanted to see get eaten by zombies) and care about Phil's often misguided but gentle attempts at wining his family's love. Julie Bowen, as his wife Claire, often plays the straight woman to great effect. It's nice to see Ed O'Neil (an actor I've long admired, though I loathed Married with Children) in a series that showcases his comedic sensibilities. He's complimented by Sofia Vergara's Gloria, who should be bathed in Emmys for playing her character with equal parts confusion, sexiness, and fun. Rounding out the three families are Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Cam and Mitchell, the requisite gay couple who play off each other with lightning speed banter.
One of the joys of Modern Family is the way it takes these three families and makes them a whole. While there are jokes about the differences between each couple (e.g. gay parents, divorced older man marries a younger woman) the writers never make the show about those themes. The real theme of the show is family; our differences, our similarities, and the things that drive us all nuts about our spouses and our children. The humor is grounded in reality, even when stretched to its limits. Some of the moments are so surreal -- as when Mitchell builds a princess castle for his daughter with Jay's help, only to have a homeless guy start living in it -- that they take on a life of their own.
The only misstep seemed to be the season-ending trip to Hawaii, which felt like a bit of a ratings grab and conjured memories of a similar Brady Bunch episode. I almost expected a magical Tiki idol to make an appearance. Complaints aside, Modern Family is an excellent single-camera sitcom that stands heads and shoulders above most of television's comedic landscape. For anyone with brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, spouses, and kids -- which is pretty much all of us -- this is an easy recommendation.
Modern Family: The Complete First Season is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen in 1080p resolution. Shot on high definition video, the series looks sharp and bright, with a quality that surpasses the original television broadcasts. Although this may not be a reference quality set, fans will be pleased with how nice these transfers look. The audio each presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround in English. Since it's a character driven comedy, the surrounds are used sparingly (ambience and opening/closing titles are about it). Dialogue, music, and effects are all heard with precision and clarity. Also included are English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.
Bonus features include 45 minutes of deleted, extended, and alternate scenes; bonus family interviews; a gag reel; and a few short featurettes that include interviews with the cast and crew ("Real Modern Family Moments," "Before Modern Family," "Fizbo the Clown," "The Making of Modern Family: Family Portrait," and "Modern Family: Hawaii").
Modern Family has a likable cast, sharp writing, and deserves the
substantial audience it's garnered. Highly recommended.
Review content copyright © 2011 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 513 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Official Site