Making waves as one of the best comedies on television, and certainly a progressive and at times edgy comedy that’s still appropriate for the whole family, ABC’s sitcom Modern Family plows through it’s second season with flying colors and plenty of raucous laughter on this three-disc Blu-Ray set. While each of the respective three families certainly have their issues to work through in every single episode, they are far from being as dysfunctional as the diabolical Bluth family of Arrested Development. Of course, that means that the comedy and writing isn’t necessarily on the same level either, but creators and executive producers Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd (no, not the one you’re thinking of) aren’t trying to emulate that comedy style or even tone, and the result is a familiar but fresh Emmy-winning series that looks to last for many seasons to come. For more of my take on the second season of Modern Family, hit the jump.
When it comes to Modern Family, a group of three families tied together by the Pritchett bloodline that starts with the elder Jay (Ed O’Neill), each has their own distinct unit that allows for the struggles of contemporary families to easily identify with every character. Whether it’s Jay’s marriage to the younger, and extremely pretty Gloria (Sofia Vergara) and raising her strangely mature and cultured son Manny (Rico Rodriguez), or a neurotic gay couple in the form of Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) raising their adopted Vietnamese daughter Lily, there’s something for nearly every American archetype. While one might consider the most traditional family unit to come from Phil and Claire Dunphy (Ty Burell and Julie Bowen), their interactions with their three kids Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter) and Luke (Nolan Gould) are anything but that. The chemistry and relationships between each of these units makes for some truly entertaining laughs complete with Emmy worthy performances from each and every star.
More specifically, the season really lets each family go through some kind of outrageous hardship or event for the audience’s pleasure. The Dunphy’s most embarrassing moments come in two different episodes, Caught in the Act and Bixby’s Back where, right in a row, the couple is caught by their kids just before getting busy in the bedroom on their anniversary, and then in the next episode, deal with the repercussions of Phil venturing into a stranger’s hotel room while role playing as Clyde Bixby, a suave alter ego who makes things interesting in their love life every now and then. Ty Burrell’s timing and delivery just seems to get better every episode whether it’s falling on that pesky trap step on the stairs or trying to be the hip Dad who knows all the cool lingo the kids are saying these days. Bowen’s contributions to the comedy department are much more subtle, but no less important to the family dynamic, especially when dealing with Phil’s childish antics from time to time.
Meanwhile, over at Mitchell and Cameron’s house, a lot of their gut-busting moments comes from outside of the house. This includes a great interaction between the boys, their gay friends, especially the boisterous and flamboyant Pepper Saltzman (played magnificently by Nathan Lane), and Mitchell’s father Jay, and a simultaneously charming and great storyline involving Mitchell joining in a flash mob for Cameron only to have it blow up in his face. But perhaps the best use of Mitchell and Cameron this season comes when the latter finds himself largely considered to be the “mother” in the relationship as they raise Lily. Stonestreet’s bombastic performance and high pitched squeals make for a comedic turn that would make even Lane himself blush. Meanwhile, Ferguson’s passive aggressive, sassy and neurotic behavior to counter that balance just makes for one of the best on-screen comedic duos TV has seen in a while.
Finally, Jay, Gloria and Manny always have the age and culture gap between them. Between Gloria’s difficulty in completely mastering the English language (it’s baby cheeses, not Baby Jesus, and dog-eat-dog world rather than a doggy dog world) and Manny’s wisdom beyond his years driving Jay up the wall, O’Neill’s return to a family comedy rivals that of the controversial Married with Children from back in the 90’s. The clash of Colombian culture and Jay’s turning into an older guy who just wants to coast until retirement makes for quite a riot, especially when Jay finally breaks down for a tender moment remembering his late mother on Mother’s Day.
Modern Family is the best sitcom to hit TV in a long time, and while certain aspects of the series can be rather on-the-nose or derivative from time to time, it’s the performances and spectacular writing and direction, that comes from surprising talents like Fred Savage from The Wonder Years, that really puts this in the running to be one of the best comedies on television.
- Deleted Family Interview: On each of the three discs the mockumentary or “confession booth” style interview segments that didn’t make the cut provide ample entertainment.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes: Just like the interviews, deleted or even extended scenes from nearly every single episode are spread across each disc.
- Imagine Me Naked Music Video: For those who love the musical stylings of Haley Dunphy’s boyfriend Dylan (Reid Ewing), there’s a well-produced music video for the song Imagine Me Naked, which fans should know well.
- Strangers on a Treadmill Table Read: Always a fan of peeking behind the curtain, this 37-minute segment has the cast doing a fantastically entertaining table read for the entirety of the Strangers on a Treadmill episode.
- Mitch’s Flash Mob: A short but sweet making-of featurette that looks at the work put into getting the flash mob together for the Manny Get Your Gun episode.
- Gag Reel: Standard gag reel fare of the cast’s various flubs while shooting the series, and while it’s a little long around 8-minutes, it still brings the funny.
- Modern Family Holidays: A 13-minute generic tour through the several holiday-themed episodes this season which are Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Too many clips from the episodes you’ve already seen, and not enough new content.
- Waiting for Oprah: The cast and crew were documented by Oprah Winfrey for her talk show, this segment is another documentary crew shooting Oprah’s crew. INCEPTION.
- Chatting with Steve Levitan: A brief, mildly interesting 4-minute interview with executive producer/co-creator Steve Levitan
- At Home with Modern Family: One of the more original featurettes, this gives us a tour of each of the family’s households from their owners.
THE FINAL WORD: The second season of Modern Family on Blu-Ray is a must have for any fan of the series, and anyone who wants their home video purchases to be in the best quality available whether it’s from the spectacular comedy and performance from the show itself, or the high-definition video and audio.