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Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd
Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vargara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Jesse Typer Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet
Writing Credits:

One big (straight, gay, multi-cultural, traditional) happy family.

Come join the family for the hilarious and critically acclaimed breakout hit of the year! Featuring an all-star cast led by Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vargara, Julie Bowen, and Ty Burrell, Modern Family takes a refreshing and funny view of what it means to raise a family in this hectic day and age. Multi-cultural relationships, adoption, and same-sex marriage are just a few of the timely issues faced by the show’s three wildly-diverse broods. No matter the size or shape, family always comes first in this hilariously “modern” look at life, love, and laughter.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 513 min.
Price: $59.99
Release Date: 9/21/10

• Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes
• Deleted Family Interviews
• Gag Reel
• “Real Modern Family Moments” Featurette
• “Before Modern Family” Featurette
• “Fizbo the Clown” Featurette
• “The Making of Modern Family: ‘Family Portrait’” Featurette
• “Modern Family ‘Hawaii’” Featurette


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Modern Family: The Complete First Season [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 3, 2011)

Glee got all the attention, but it wasn’t the only breakout series from 2009-10. Though ABC’s Modern Family got less hype, it did about the same in terms of ratings – and probably has the brighter future. Glee has a “flash in the pan” feel, whereas the faux reality scope of Family boasts material that can be mined for years and years.

The series revolves around the Pritchett family. Patriarch Jay (Ed O’Neill) married much, much younger Colombian sexpot Gloria (Sofia Vergara) six months earlier and took on her son Manny (Rico Rodriguez) as his stepchild.

The show also follows the lives of Jay’s two kids. Daughter Claire (Julie Bowen) leads the more conventional existence. She’s been married to Phil (Ty Burrell) for 16 years and has three kids: 15-year-old Haley (Sarah Hyland), 13-year-old Alex (Ariel Winter) and 11-year-old boy Luke (Nolan Gould).

Finally, Mitchell (Jesse Typer Ferguson) lives with his partner of five years Cameron (Eric Stonestreet). At the series’ start, they adopt a baby from Vietnam. The series follows various events and interactions in the characters’ lives, with an emphasis on their interactions.

In a world replete with reality shows of questionable reality, Family pokes some fun. It uses the format for its scripted action, and this is a successful conceit. Is there anything in Family that wouldn’t fly if presented in a more traditional manner? No – we know the show’s scripted, so the series doesn’t rely on a sense of real-life to work.

The reality format definitely helps integrate and balance all the characters. Sure, a sitcom without the reality bent could still spread across three plotlines per episode; after all, Seinfeld usually told four takes per show. However, those four plots revolved around the adventures of four individuals, so it’d be more complicated to keep things moving with three different families. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done in the traditional way, but I think the reality scope allows Family to more easily get us across its various threads.

At no point dos the reality format feel like a cheap crutch, however. I often bemoan the overuse of the “documentary style” in movies; I think it’s a lame attempt to convey “reality” and it usually just seems like an excuse to avoid good cinematography.

That sense of laziness never occurs during Family. If used poorly, the fake reality format would quickly become a distraction, but as featured here, it never intrudes. The camerawork remains tasteful and allows us to focus on the characters and action; we don’t see awkward shots that distract us. Honestly, after a few minutes, I think you forget that Family is supposed to resemble a reality show.

This is also true because Family is such a broad spoof of the genre. The performances tend to veer just on the edge of campy. They maintain enough realism to avoid cartooniness, and the acting is certainly less over the top than you’d see on a standard sitcom; those usually feature actors who practically shout the punchlines and beg for our love.

Perhaps I shouldn’t call the performances broad, as it’s actually the characters who are broad – to a degree. No one’s so extreme that they come across as caricatures, but they come close. Phil and Claire feel like they’re from the Jon and Kate template, while the gayness of Mitchell and Cameron flirts with offensiveness but doesn’t get there. Gloria also occasionally veers toward the Frito Bandito School of Ethnic Stereotypes, but she still stays real enough to remain a recognizable person.

Sort of. While each of the roles shows characteristics we see in real people, their consistent broadness lands them firmly in the Land of the Artificial. But they’re in the Land of the Very Entertaining Artificial, and even when they push the envelope, they never cross any particular lines. (How’s that for mixed metaphors?)

So we still invest in the characters and never view them necessarily as “only on TV” creations. Indeed, that might be the genius of Family: it uses fully believable characters and situations but tweaks them just a little to make them goofier than life. It’s not dissimilar to Seinfeld, really; that show relied on broad characters but it still kept them in touch with reality.

The actors uniformly provide engaging work. O’Neill seems like the most popular of the bunch, though I suspect that’s more due to residual affection for Al Bundy than anything he does here. Don’t get me wrong: O’Neill is very good in the role. I just don’t see anything in his work that makes him stand above the others, as all the adults are consistently strong.

And the kids do well also. If forced to pick a favorite, I’d go with Manny, though that’s more due to my affection for the character than anything Rodriguez dos in the role. Again, the kid’s fine, but he’s not any better than the others. Manny just gets the best lines.

You’ll definitely find more than a few good lines and gags throughout the show. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in other reviews, I’m a tough laugh. I might smile at a joke and throw out a quick “heh”, but I don’t often truly laugh at much.

My normal pattern went bye-bye as I watched Family. I’d guess I laughed out loud at least five times per episode, and the shows offered plenty additional jokes that made me smile or chuckle. Of course, some episodes were better than others, but I’d be hard-pressed to pick a particular fave or a relative dog; the series maintained a good level of consistency.

Honestly, if forced to pick a criticism about Modern Family, it’d relate to its semi-sentimental endings. No, it doesn’t indulge in the sappy goopiness found on most sitcoms, and it keeps the emotions pretty subdued. Still, like Seinfeld, much of the series’ charm comes from its lack of corniness, so the inclusion of the “we all love each other” endings can be a bit of a distraction.

But that’s a minor knock on an otherwise strong show. Across the board, the first season of Modern Family proves to be a delight.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

Modern Family appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. For the most part, the episodes looked fine.

Sharpness was generally good, though occasionally a little inconsistent. A few examples of wide shots appeared a bit soft, but those remained modest. Most of the episodes offered nice clarity and definition. No issues with jaggies or edge haloes appeared, and artifacts remained absent. Source flaws also failed to become a factor across these clean shows.

Colors looked fine. The series went with natural hues, and they came across as vivid and full. Blacks seemed tight and dense, while shadows looked acceptably concise; a couple of interiors were a little stiff, but those remained unusual instances.

Note that the visuals varied at times due to the use of lower quality cameras. To fit with the reality show conceit, some elements were shot on crummier equipment. This meant some uglier images, especially in cars; those bits used the worst cameras. I didn’t think any of these created distractions, though, so I didn’t dock my grade; they were part of the show’s concept and blended fine.

TheDTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Modern Family seemed acceptable but unexceptional. I didn’t expect a vivid soundfield from a chatty comedy like this, and the audio remained within the limits I anticipated. General ambience dominated. A few scenes used the spectrum a bit more vividly, but nothing memorable occurred along the way.

No issues with sound quality emerged. Dialogue sounded clean and concise, with no edginess or other issues. Music tended to be a minor factor but seemed fine. Effects also appeared clean and offered decent dynamics. No one will mistake the audio as demo quality, but the material was adequate for this series.

In terms of extras, Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes appear for 17 episodes. These run a total of 45 minutes, three seconds of footage. The majority of these offer minor extensions to existing sequences, so don’t expect a ton of fresh material. Nonetheless, the shots amuse; it’s worth sitting through the redundant stuff for the new gags.

We also discover Deleted Family Interviews for nine episodes, all of which appear on Discs One and Two. These fill a total of 10 minutes, 27 seconds, and mostly offer comments from Phil. As with the “Deleted Scenes”, some redundant shots appear, but the new bits are more than funny enough to merit your attention.

The remaining extras all appear on Disc Three. A Gag Reel goes for five minutes, 41 seconds, and shows the usual array of goofs and giggles. However, it throws in some alternate line readings, so it’s more interesting than most.

A few featurettes fill out the set. Real Modern Family Moments lasts 10 minutes, 24 seconds and delivers notes from executive producer/co-creator Steven Levitan, wife Krista, and son Griffin, consulting producer Ilana Wernick, writers/co-executive producers Danny Zuker, Dan O’Shannon, Bill Wrubel, Paul Corrigan, and Brad Walsh, and Zuker’s wife Annette. They tell us some real-life inspirations for the show’s stories. This becomes a fun piece as we learn about incidents that led to TV gags.

During the 12-minute, 53-second Before Modern Family, we hear from actors Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Rico Rodriguez, Ty Burrell, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, and Julie Bowen. They tell us about their showbiz work prior to the series. This seems unnecessary for O’Neill, but it’s interesting to learn a little more about the others.

We revisit one particular episode with Fizbo the Clown. It runs four minutes,13 seconds and offers notes from Stonestreet and Walsh. We learn about Stonestreet’s clown gig as a kid and how this influenced the episode with the same title. This turns into another informative little piece.

The Making of Modern Family: “Family Portrait” goes for nine minutes, 15 seconds and features Wernick, Ferguson, Stonestreet, Rodriguez, Gould, Winter and producing director Jason Winer. They talk about the roots of the “Portrait” episode and aspects of its creation. We get some nice shots from the set in this enjoyable featurette; I especially like the dissection of the Wernick family photo that inspired the theme.

Finally, Modern Family ‘Hawaii’ fills five minutes, 19 seconds and includes remarks from Steven Levitan, Ferguson, Stonestreet, O’Neill, Burrell, Bowen, Vergara, Gould, Rodriguez, and producer Jeff Morton. This one follows the same format as the “Portrait” piece, though it concentrates a bit more on its director; we learn a bit about Levitan’s style along the way. It’s not as interesting as “Portrait”, but it works fine.

An ad for Knight and Day opens Disc One.

Modern Family became one of 2009’s standout new series, and I understand why. It boasts clever writing and good performances to become a consistently amusing show. The Blu-ray offers good picture, adequate audio and a decent set of supplements. Nothing about this release dazzles, but the show itself is a winner that deserves your attention.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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