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Featured TV on DVD Review: Modern Family: Season One

September 18th, 2010

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

There are a handful of TV shows that debuted last fall that could claim the mantel of "Best New Show of 2009." NCIS: Los Angeles led the way in ratings for much of the year, till the midseason replacement Undercover Boss took the crown. Glee had arguably the most buzz and nearly set a record for Emmy nominations; however, it was mostly shut out on Emmy night. The other major candidate is Modern Family. This show was in the top five for ratings for new shows, and in the top 40 overall. It earned more than a dozen Emmy nominations, including acting nods for nearly everyone in the adult cast (and I still think Ed O'Neill was robbed... so was Ariel Winter). So now that I get a chance to review the show, will I be adding my voice to the choir, or will I be dissenting?

The Show

Modern Family looks into the lives of three related families. Ed O'Neill stars as Jay Pritchett, the patriarch of the clan. He recently remarried a younger woman, a much younger woman, Gloria. Gloria is from a small Colombian village that is poor in money, but rich in murders, and beautiful women. She has a son, Manny, whom Jay has adopted. Jay also has two adult children...

Claire is married to Phil and they have three kids. There's Haley, the popular / naive one. There's Alex (Ariel Winter), the smart / evil one. And then there's Luke (Nolan Gould), the weird / dumb one. Claire had a wild youth and is not overcompensating by being strict and controlling over her kids. Phil is trying hard to be the cool dad. He's a failure at the cool part, while he's not much better at the whole dad thing.

Finally there's Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) Jay's son, who is gay. His partner for five years, Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) is much more outgoing than he is, but Mitchell's more uptight nature could be because his father is not 100% accepting of the whole gay thing. In the pilot, we meet them returning from Vietnam with Lily, their new baby girl they adopted.

The show's pseudo-documentary style has a lot to do with it's success. The characters often sit on the couch talking directly to the camera with flashbacks, either emphasizing or completely contradicting their statements. This leads to a very disjointed experience, but one that stands out from the typical sitcom. It helps that the show has such terrific writing, not to mention the acting. It allows for a very very sharp changes in tone from the absurd to the sentimental in a flash. Normally this would kill a show, but here they don't even miss a beat.

This show earned 14 Emmy nominations, including five for acting, and won six Emmys in total. It also earned five nominations from the various guilds (Screen Actors, Writers, Directors), winning three of those, not to mention a Golden Globe nomination, Teen Choice Awards nominations, a Television Critics Awards win and four more nominations. Having reviewed most of the top new TV series from the 2009 - 2010 season, this one is clearly my favorite.

The Extras

I only have the Blu-ray to review, so I'm not 100% sure if there are exclusives or not. There don't appear to be any. There are plenty of extras starting with 24 minutes of deleted / extended / alternate scenes on disc one, although they are divided into scenes and family interviews. Over on disc two, there's more of the same. Technically it's less of the same with 22 minutes in total. The deleted / extended / alternative scenes continue on disc three with 9 more minutes. There are also six minutes of outtakes.

There is also a series of featurettes starting with Real Modern Family Moments, a 10-minute featurette on how a lot of events in the show were inspired by real life events. Before Modern Family takes a 13-minute look at the cast and what they were doing before the show. There is a 4-minute featurette on Fizbo the Clown, which is apparently something Eric Stonestreet did before he was an actor. (On a side note, its arguably the best episode of the season, and not just because of Fizbo, but the Airport 2010 / Hawaii two-parter is very close to the top as well.) The Making of Modern Family: Family Portrait is a nine-minute making of featurette of Family Portrait episode. The second making of featurette is on the two-part episode, Airport 2010 / Hawaii.

I'm a little disappointed that there are no audio commentary tracks, but there are almost two hours of extras here. That's acceptable.

There appears to be no exclusives on the Blu-ray, but I'm not too upset for a couple reasons. First of all, it looks amazing. I recently reviewed the last season of Lost on Blu-ray and called it "arguably the best TV show when it comes to High Definition presentation". This show isn't as good, but it is a sitcom and less cinematic than Lost is, so you have to judge it accordingly. The colors pop, details are sharp... let me take that back, the colors really pop and the details are incredibly sharp. Even without additional extras, it's worth the extra $6. Oh yeah, that's the other selling point. It only costs $6 more.

The Verdict

Modern Family is the best new show from last season, and the DVD and Blu-ray releases for Season One are both worth picking up. The latter is the better deal and depending on the competition, it could be a contender for Pick of the Week.

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