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Featured TV on DVD Review: Modern Family: Season Two

September 20th, 2011

Modern Family: Season Two - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Modern Family was my favorite new show of the 2009 / 2010 TV season and I was not alone in thinking that way. Not only did the show earn some of the best ratings for a new TV show, it also picked up numerous awards and countless critical accolades. However, there's always a concern that when a TV show starts out so amazing it will suffer through the dreaded "Sophomore Slump". Was that the case with Modern Family? If so, did it drop far enough that it's not worth watching? Or, on the other extreme, did it manage to improve?

The Show

First a recap... The show looks at three families, who represent three generations of the Pritchett family. Jay Pritchett is the head of the family and lives with his new wife, Gloria, and her son, Manny (Rico Rodriguez). He had two children from his first marriage, Claire and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson). Claire married Phil and they have three kids of their own: Haley, Alex, and Luke. Mitchell and his boyfriend, Cameron Tucker, adopted a Vietnamese girl, Lily.

In a typical episode, we see three stories, one for each family, while sometimes two or more of the stories combine. The show is broken up by family interviews, documentary style talking head segments with the characters speaking about the plot, motivations, back stories, etc. It adds a lot to the style and flavor to the show, not to mention the humor. Going from a characters recollection of past evens to direct flashbacks is one of the best sources of humor

There were a lot of highlights in this seasons, including The Kiss, which has Alex texting a boy and Haley helping her with some sisterly advice. (The two also bond more in Strangers on a Treadmill.) An Earthquake hits and the three families deal with it in vastly different ways. I especially like Mitchell and Cameron using it as an excuse to get out of a brunch with Pepper, whose brunches started out fun but have become a chore. Halloween is Claire's favorite holiday, but she obsesses over it so much that the rest of the family has lost interest. Cameron's Mother arrives in Mother Tucker, which causes Mitchell a lot of problems. Slow Down Your Neighbors features a couple of guest appearances, including one by James Marsden as Mitchell and Cameron's new neighbor. In Caught in the Act, Claire and Phil are... caught in the act by their kids. Bixby's Back is the Valentine's Day episode and it has all three couples trying to celebrate in their own way. Shelley Long returns as Claire and Mitchell's mom, this time bringing a boyfriend, Robbie, who Claire used to date in high school.

At this point I'm just going to stop talking about the best episodes, because even at its worst, Modern Family is an amazing show. And, season two was arguably better than season one. It increased its Emmy nominations, earning 17 of them and lead on TV shows with 5 wins. It earned more Golden Globe nominations, more guild nominations and wins, etc. It's possibly my favorite show on network TV, and it's no worse than top three.

The Extras

Extras on the Blu-ray begin with four additional minutes of family interviews and ten minutes of deleted / extended scenes. There is also a 38-minute featurette on a live table read for the episode Strangers on a Treadmill. And finally there's a three-minute featurette on the flash mob from Manny Get Your Gun. Disc two has five more minutes of family interviews and eleven minutes of deleted / extended scenes. There's a music video for "Imagine Me Naked", as sung by Dylan (Reid Ewing). The final disc has two minutes of family interviews and one minute of deleted scenes. There are also 8 minutes of outtakes. Modern Family Holidays is a 13-minute featurette on three of the holiday episodes: Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and Halloween. Waiting for Oprah is a four-minute featurette on the day Oprah's crew came to the set. Chatting with Steve Levitan is a four-minute interview with the co-creator of the show. And finally there's At Home With Modern Family, which looks at the three homes in the show. Again, there are no audio commentary tracks, but again there are almost two hours of extras on the three-disc set.

Like last time, there appears to be no exclusives on the Blu-ray, but the audio and video are great. Granted, I'm judging it compared to other TV sitcoms, so it is not as strong as a theatrical release, but the level of detail is high, colors really pop, the blacks are deep and never swallow details, etc. The audio is clear, but not that complicated. Plus, it only costs $5 more than the DVD.

The Verdict

Modern Family was the best new show when it debuted, and now during Season Two it is arguably the best show on Network TV, period. I would have loved some audio commentary tracks, but even without any, the DVD and the Blu-ray are worth picking up, while the latter is a contender for Pick of the Week.

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