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Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season(TV) (2012-2013)
A satirical look at three different families and the trials they face in each of their own uniquely comedic ways.
For more about Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season and the Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray release, see Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on September 24, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ed O'Neill, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Directors: Michael Spiller, Jason Winer, Gail Mancuso, Chris Koch (I), Beth McCarthy-Miller, Fred Savage
» See full cast & crew
Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review
Television's First 'Family'.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, September 24, 2013
There's been a supposed critical consensus that Modern Family's fourth season saw a minimal, if material, decline from what has been one of the highest bars ever set by a television comedy. I would argue that if—and I repeat if—the series has taken an incremental step downward, it is still so much better than virtually everything else on the boob tube that it's ridiculous to even talk about whatever perceived shortcomings the series has. But I'll even go one step further—I don't think Modern Family has suffered anything near the "issues" some have ascribed to it during its fourth season, and in fact I found many of this season's episodes to be among the best the series has offered over its entire run. Four years ago, I stumbled on Modern Family's premiere episode quite by chance. For whatever reason that year I hadn't really paid any attention to pre-season hype about new shows, and I think it was basically just the luck of the draw that led me to turning on ABC that night and being introduced to the extended Ptitchett-Dunphy families, an interconnected lot of lovable misfits who were not even revealed to be related until the closing moments of that debut outing—just the first of many sleights of hand the show's writers would pull over the ensuing years. What struck me then, and continues to strike me now with really astounding regularity, is how brilliantly Modern Family manages to provoke laugh out loud hilarity while also being incredibly touching. This motley crew of characters has "something for everyone": a crusty elder and his Colombian trophy wife who parent both her young son from her first marriage as well as their brand new baby (an addition to this season), a middle aged suburban couple and their three radically different children, and a gay couple raising a Vietnamese child whom they've adopted. One of the best things about Modern Family is, despite this overly PC assemblage of characters, the show rarely if ever feels contrived. This is some of the most honest comedy television has ever seen, and that genuineness continues largely unabated through the fourth season.
For those not up to speed with the incredibly interconnected world Modern Family explores, I highly recommend reading my colleague Casey Broadwater's reviews of the series' previous seasons:
Modern Family: The Complete First Season Blu-ray review
Modern Family: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray review
Modern Family: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray review
While the biggest sea change (of diapers?) in Modern Family's fourth season might seem to be the arrival of baby Joe to Jay (Ed O'Neill) and Gloria (Sofia Vergara), a closer look at the ever evolving dynamic between these multifaceted characters finds each of them going through various important life stages. Jay is coming to terms with being a father again at the ripe old age of 65. Gloria is dealing first with the new "curves" her pregnancy brings, but also with her insecurities harbored as a result of having largely raised her son Manny (Rico Rodriguez) by herself prior to marrying Jay. Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen) are ushering eldest daughter Haley (Sarah Hyland) into something approaching adulthood, dropping her off at college (in what turns out to be a short-lived stay), while literally counting the years until younger kids Alex (Ariel Winter) and Luke (Nolan Gould) are out of the house. Meanwhile, Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) are learning to cope with adopted daughter Lily's (Aubrey Anderson- Emmons) increasingly firebrand manner, while at the same time they attempt to navigate the treacherous waters of wanting to adopt another child.
The series continues to artfully mine both humor and pathos in about equal measure with all of the major characters, sometimes rather incredibly at the same moment. This season has a myriad of moments that are full of throwaway punchlines but which also reveal character at virtually the same moment. When Alex and Haley say goodbye as Haley is leaving for college, they assault each other with epithets and then almost immediately fall into a hug with each other, telling each other how much they're going to miss their sister. Similarly, Cam and Mitch get into an absolutely hysterical you-know- what match with two lesbians whose son has had a conflict with Lily at school, and both sets of couples (well, mostly Cam and Cam's female counterpart in the other couple) start a hilarious barrage of insults, only to figure out in the episode's closing moments that the four of them are more alike than they might have initially imagined.
Modern Family may not seem like it's taking many risks, at least when compared to admittedly much edgier fare that appears on a variety of niche cable networks. But how many of those series could have navigated the dangers of building an episode—a beautifully touching and incredibly funny episode—out of the unlikely material of the death of a parent, as this series did in this season's finale? Modern Family doesn't so much push the envelope as gently nudge it along, giving us one of the most finely tuned ensembles on television reciting some of the smartest writing in the entire history of sitcoms. The naysayers may be nipping at this series' heels—if for no other reason than it's been around for a while now—but at least the Television Academy rightfully understands just how excellent this series continues to be. Modern Family has just taken its fourth straight Emmy home as Best Comedy (a feat shared by only the legendary Dick Van Dyke Show), and my bets are on this show to be the frontfunner again next year for a fifth trophy.
Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. Those who have the previous seasons on Blu-ray will know more or less what to expect here. This native HD presentation is sharp, colorful and nicely detailed, boasting solid contrast that easily navigates both the interiors of the various family members' abodes as well as the sunny exteriors of Los Angeles and its environs. Fine detail is really excellent in the close-ups, including the mockumentary confessionals that fill each episode. As with previous seasons, a lot of this show seems to be shot on the fly utilizing hand held cameras (one gets the feeling things are more rigorously choreographed than they might first appear to be), and that gives a slightly imprecise ambience to some of the shots. Otherwise, though, this is another very enjoyable high definition presentation that should easily please the series' many fans.
Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season features another perfectly serviceable lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that is, as with previous seasons, a pretty front heavy affair, with only the bumper music and occasional ambient environmental effects really creating much depth in the surrounds. There are some nice moments here, though—the episode with Phil trying out Jay's motorcycle has some great low end and immersion as Phil tools through the suburban streets, and the episode where Cam and Mitch try to save a tree in the park has a nice sense of aural space. Dialogue is always presented very cleanly (though Nolan Gould really needs some elocution lessons), with excellent fidelity. Dynamic range is pretty limited here, aside from when Gloria loses it (that's a joke—kind of).
Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I'm more or less in the same generation as Phil and Claire (maybe a tad older), with two teenage kids of my own, and I continue to find Modern Family a genuine oasis in what can still be the "barren wasteland" of network television. This is in fact one of the rare "appointment television" moments my entire family will sit together and watch, which is a testament to just how accessible and relatable the various characters in this series are. I've frankly been a little surprised at some of the criticisms I've seen lobbed at Modern Family this past year. For my money, it is easily the strongest, most consistently brilliant, sitcom currently airing on television, network or cable. The video and audio preesntations here are great, and it's nice to finally get some commentaries as supplements. Highly recommended.
Modern Family: Other Seasons
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Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray - August 12, 2013
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the nation on September 24th.
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