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Modern Family: The Complete Second Season(TV) (2010-2011)
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 Second Season and the Modern Family: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray release, see Modern Family: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on September 27, 2011 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 Second Season Blu-ray Review
Modern, yes, but traditional too.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, September 27, 2011
Modern Family fans, you already know you'll be picking up this 3-disc set, so I'll give you the short version of my review upfront: 1.) Season two mostly maintains the high standard of writing set by season one, and 2.) the show once again looks and sounds great on Blu-ray, and comes with a decent assortment of value-extending special features. And that's probably all you need to know to make an informed purchasing decision. So, I'm going to direct the rest of my comments towards newcomers to the ABC show, a half-hour sitcom that holds a mirror up to our diverse perceptions of what family is, can be, and should be in the 2010s.
Of course, the traditional, straight, racially homogenous nuclear unit of a mom, a dad, and 2.5 kids is definitely still the norm—and, for most, still the ideal—in America, but since the Leave it to Beaver domesticity of the 1950s, the definition of "family" has expanded significantly to include gay marriage and adoption, multi-cultural pairings, and single parenthood, among other permutations. Modern Family reflects this change with humor and grace, giving an honest look at the way every style of family has—and, with love, can overcome—its foibles. It's smartly written and well-acted too, but as LeVar Burton said on Reading Rainbow, don't take my word for it; the show recently swept the 2011 Emmy's, winning awards for best supporting actor and actress, best direction, best script, and even the big one, best comedy series.
At the heart of the mockumentary-style show—think an "at-home" version of The Office—is a large ensemble cast that makes up three extended, interrelated, and wildly different families, each of which represents a different kind of 21st century family structure. The closest to the traditional "atomic" unit are the Dunphys, Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen), who have three kids and live in upper-middle-class suburban Los Angeles. Phil, a semi-successful realtor, desperately wants to be the "cool" dad, to the point of acting like a kid himself and perpetually embarrassing or frustrating his loving but longsuffering wife. Ty Burrell is cast against type here and it works perfectly. I first remember seeing him in 2004's Dawn of the Dead remake—he played the self-centered, yacht-owning ass who became a zombie—and with his deep-set eyes he still looks a bit like an undead jerk, which makes his character's juvenile goofiness all the more surprising and endearing. He's one of the most consistently hilarious characters on the show, aided in large part by Julie Bowen, who makes a great foil. Her Claire holds the family together, and she has to play the "straight" role much of the time, but in a more subtle way she's funny too as an overprotective helicopter mom who can't stand seeing her children grow up but wishes that her husband finally would.
Claire's brother is ginger-haired Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), a mild-mannered but mildly neurotic gay man and lawyer who, in season one, adopted a Vietnamese baby with his more flamboyant partner, Cam (Eric Stonestreet), a melodramatic stay-at-home "mom" who resents being perceived as the "woman" of the relationship. The two have an almost Laurel and Hardy-ish odd couple relationship—Mitchell is skinny and prim, Cam is overweight, loud, and proud—and the show finds humor in the fact that society at large doesn't yet have a vocabulary or etiquette for gay parenthood, like when Cam gets given flowers for Mother's Day by their daughter's play-date group. Last season, the series got some criticism for not portraying Mitchell and Cam as being intimate with one another—they were only shown hugging—but this was rectified with a no-big-deal kiss in this year's second episode, which appropriately centers around Mitchell's fears about public displays of affection. For my money, Jesse Tyler Ferguson is the show's other biggest source of laughs. In one of my favorite moments from this season—and really, this is just a throwaway sight gag—Mitchell is addressing the camera about how enjoying Lady Gaga is the one gay stereotype that he'll permit himself. He then notices that his legs are crossed effeminately and immediately spreads them and puts his hands on his thighs, trying to look manlier. Ferguson is wonderful at these kinds of comedic reversals.
One of the show's narrative through-lines is Mitchell's awkward relationship with his and Claire's father, Jay (Married with Children's Ed O'Neill), a tough-as-nails patriarch who, somewhere beneath his grumpy grandpa exterior, is secretly a big softie. Jay is married to Gloria (Sophia Vergara), a voluptuous Columbian nearly half his age, and her pre-teen son from a previous marriage, Manny (Rico Rodriguez), is a comically mature middle schooler, drinking coffee, writing capital-R-Romantic poetry, and frequently wearing his favorite "burgundy dinner jacket." Gloria's love of Hispanic traditions and Catholic culture often put her at odds with Jay's sheer white-bread American-ness, but Jay puts up with it because—let's face it—Gloria is quite a catch, with a va-va-voom figure that inspires envy in her same aged step-daughter, Claire.
The mechanics of this three-pronged extended family are strange and conflict-prone, but what Modern Family does best is show how these people are just trying to love each other as best as they can, despite all the weirdness and differences. I don't think the show is nearly as funny as Arrested Development ever was, but it's certainly more relatable for its target audience of real-life modern families, who will probably see more than a little of themselves in each episode. Showrunners and co-creators Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan base many of the storylines on actual incidents in their own lives, so there's an air of genuineness here that's absent in a lot of other contemporary sitcoms, which spend perhaps too much time winking knowingly at their audiences. The show's one fault, as far as I'm concerned, is that it tends to wrap up almost every episode with a tidy, saccharine message, which will probably make more jaded TV viewers roll their eyes. But if you can look past the cloying predictability of all the life lesson learnin', you'll find a rare TV series that's funny, smart, warm, and still full of promise going into its third season. If you've yet to see the show, dive right in—the episodes are mostly self-contained—but make sure you go back eventually and watch the multiple-Emmy-award- winning first two seasons. There's a lot to love.
Modern Family: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
If you own the Modern Family season one set, you know exactly what to expect here, as the presentation for season two is practically identical. The show is shot natively in high definition, so it makes the transition to Blu-ray easily, with 1080p/AVC-encoded digital-to-digital transfers that look sharper, cleaner, and less prone to the banding/macroblocking compression quibbles you often get with broadcast TV. Color is realistic and vibrant, with consistently balanced skin tones and rich primaries, while black levels are deep and defining and contrast is right on the mark, giving the picture a strong sense of presence. Clarity is strong too; the handheld camerawork means there are occasional soft shots due to varying focus, but most of the time the image is crisp and resolved, letting us make out fine facial features and wardrobe details. You'd really have to nitpick to find complaints about the show's presentation—highlights are occasionally overblown, especially on brightly colored objects, and there are a few instances of mild banding and a couple darker scenes where noise spikes. Overall, the show looks fantastic.
Modern Family: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Likewise, there's really no noticeable change in audio quality or sound design between season and season two. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks that accompany each episode are as dialogue-driven and front-heavy as they've always been, with the rear channels only intermittently called upon for light ambience and the occasional musical cue. (I don't think I can recall a single cross-channel effect.) Given that this is a family sitcom, set mostly inside—not a war movie—the solid but spartan sound design makes sense. Dialogue is clean and clear, the theme song and incidental music are as full and dynamic as they need to be, and there are no drop-outs, buzzes, hisses, or muffling. No complaints here. The discs include optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles in easy to read lettering.
Modern Family: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Modern Family: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Considering it's title, Modern Family is actually a fairly traditional sitcom, but the difference is that it's done well—it's smartly written, brilliantly acted, an all around fun. Season two has a handful of lackluster entries, but most of the episodes hew closely to the same level of quality as season one. And once again, the show looks and sounds wonderful on Blu-ray. If you're a fan, you'll want to pick this set up immediately, and if you're new to the Modern Family fold, I'd suggest checking out an episode on Hulu; if you like what you see, go ahead and pick up both season sets. Recommended!
Modern Family: Other Seasons
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Modern Family: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Modern Family: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray - June 29, 2011
Fox has announced the second season of their immensely popular family sitcom, Modern Family for Blu-ray. The 3-disc set will contain all 24 second season episodes with special features. Modern Family: The Complete Second Season streets on September 20th.
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