Once upon a time there was a show about a large family. This show was split into sections for storytelling purposes, although they often intersected when their crazy plots came together in some fashion. The characters were fleshed out, easily liked and/or laughed at and it featured such a strong and streamlined cast that no one would ever think to mess with it. The show garnered heaps of praise from critics in its inaugural season and by the time the second season started, awards had already started to roll in. It was hailed a modern classic by fans and reviewers alike and everyone wanted nothing more than for it to continue on forever and ever. That show was called Arrested Development. And now we have another show that fits those exact parameters, only it isn’t on Fox so it might not get cancelled before its time. That show is called Modern Family. And it is one of the best shows on TV.
One of the highest rated new television shows of the year, the engaging, honest and hilarious “mockumentary” view of today’s non-traditional households, “Modern Family” The Complete First Season debuts on Blu-ray and DVD September 21 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “Modern Family” takes a refreshing and funny view of what it means to raise a family in this hectic day and age. Multi-cultural relationships, adoption, and same-sex marriage are just a few of the timely issues faced by the show’s three wildly-diverse broods. No matter the size or shape, family always comes first in this hilariously “modern” look at life, love, and laughter.
I held off on watching Modern Family at first because it seemed like another branch off of The Office. By about six episodes into the series, however, I finally played catch-up and immediately added it to my weekly record list. I hesitated to call it better than Arrested Development at first, but by the end of the first season it was clear that I had a strong contender to upset the position that Arrested held for so long on my top favorite TV shows list. Though the two shows were very similar in more than a few ways, Modern Family not only felt more accessible than Arrested but it also featured plots that were directly relatable if you come from a big family.
Essentially Modern Family really is just a more grounded-in-reality version of Arrested Development. I’ll quit comparing the two now, I swear, but there’s just so much to love about both shows I can’t help but talk about one in place of the other. Modern Family works simply because the characters are so likeable. There are a few stereotypes that play into the series, but they’re always done tongue-in-cheek and end up resulting in a “we know what we’re doing, just play along” type situation. Probably the most wonderful thing about the show is just how unscripted it feels; the shaky documentary style camera no doubt helps with that, but the performances by every single cast member are really all of the same, incredibly high level that it’s a bit of a mind bender that they managed to assemble a cast this large without a single “squeaky” wheel.
With three major families to focus on, there’s nary a dull moment on the show. While it’s rare to not see some kind of crossover between the three, it’s also not unusual to focus entirely on a family on their own as a whole. While many people have a preference of the three, I honestly enjoy all of them—they all have their own unique dynamics. It helps that they all have inimitable situations to deal with as a result of their own familial make up, but no matter what the end result is either something eye-wateringly hilarious or heart warming (or a combination of the two).
I’ve analyzed this show way more than I should have, but the only thing that matters in the end is that it’s hilarious. And it is. There isn’t a single episode in this season that wasn’t positively hilarious; while there were some that stood out more than others (the two-part Hawaii vacation is one), the chances of you finding any episode that didn’t make you laugh from start to finish in some form or another is exceedingly slim. It doesn’t hurt that there two dozen episodes that comprise this season:
• The Bicycle Thief
• Come Fly With Me
• The Incident
• Coal Digger
• Run for Your Wife
• En Garde
• Great Expectations
• Undeck The Halls
• Up All Night
• Not in My House
• Fifteen Percent
• Moon Landing
• My Funky Valentine
• Truth Be Told
• Starry Night
• Game Changer
• Travels with Scout
• Airport 2010
• Family Portrait
Overall this is a Must See show. Unless you hate laughing and families; in that case you can ignore it, you heartless joke hater.
Fox brings Modern Family’s first season to Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with the three discs housed inside. On the exterior is a nicely done slipcover, although there’s no fancy texturing or embossing—it’s just a straight up slipcover that mimics the art beneath it. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and disc art features art from the show.
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded transfer that brings to life the exciting area of suburban life. This is obviously not a show that demands to be on Blu-ray, but there are still plenty of moments that you’re thankful for high definition (the Hawaii episode, Sofía Vergara). The audio, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, is also kind of overkill for a dialogue driven series, but there are still environmental effects/noise that fills the surrounds. The subwoofer wakes up only when something calamitous happens usually, but its there whenever it’s called upon. Overall it’s not a mind-blowing presentation, but there are still plenty of solid details throughout the series to take note of.
• Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes
• Deleted Family Interviews
• Gag Reel
• Real Modern Family Moments
• Before Modern Family
• Fizbo the Clown
• Modern Family: Making of “Family Portrait”
• Modern Family Hawaii
There’s nearly an hour of deleted/extended scenes and family interviews stretched across the set, plus the whole smattering of other goodies make for nearly two hours of extras. While it’s sad there are no audio commentaries, the featurettes here usually focus on specific episodes, so they’re kind of mini-profile moments from the season. Then there are elements like the Fizbo bit where we get to see home video footage of Eric Stonestreet (Emmy winner!) hone his craft as the unsettling clown. Like the show there isn’t a featurette or short reel of film here that’s not worth checking out in the extras department—it’s all good stuff. What isn’t hilarious is informative and vice versa, so there’s a good mixture here.
Overall this is a Highly Recommended set. It didn’t blow me away like it could have (commentaries, people!) but it’s still a really solid set and considering there’s a strong chance you’ll be re-watching this show over and over again it’ll be nice to add to the ol’ Blu-ray shelf.
Modern Family: The Complete First Season is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.