THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Ed O’Neill as JAY PRITCHETT
Sofia Vergara as GLORIA DELGADO-PRITCHETT
Julie Bowen as CLAIRE DUMPHY
Ty Burrell as PHIL DUNPHY
Jesse Tyler Ferguson as MITCHELL PRITCHETT
Eric Stonestreet as CAMERON TUCKER
Rico Rodriguez as MANNY DELGADO
Nolan Gould as LUKE DUNPHY
Sarah Hyland as HALEY DUNPHY
Ariel Winter as ALEX DUNPHY
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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Told in mockumentary style, this Emmy-winning situation comedy tells the story of three parts of a very unique family in Los Angeles. Phil and Claire Dunphy have a typical nuclear family with three kids, but plenty of hang-ups and silly problems. Claire’s dad Jay is married to a young Latina hottie named Gloria, who has a shockingly mature child named Manny. Claire’s brother Mitchell and his partner Cameron have just adopted a young Vietnamese girl and are having their first shot at being parents.
WHAT I LIKED
When “Modern Family” first aired last fall, I wasn’t able to watch it on broadcast television. However, I kept hearing great things. While all those accolades were coming in, I wondered whether it could really be that funny. The answer is that it is that funny, and it’s a great show.
The pilot is a little shaky, which isn’t uncommon. But when the show allowed all the characters to have their bizarre quirks and not try to be preachy, things really took off. Too often, a show will present parents like Claire and Phil as normal, when the reality is that these characters are just as neurotic and screwed up as anyone else on the show. That’s where the comedy is.
Even when the show tries to get heartfelt and honest, it doesn’t get preachy or annoying. It keeps its messages subtle and doesn’t overdo any sort of normalcy.
It takes a good chunk of the season for every character to come out of his or her shell. In the early episodes, the fatter the character, the more I liked them (with my favorites being Cameron, Manny and Jay). However, by the end of the first season, everyone gets their day. In particular, the normally reserved Mitchell gets a chance to shine as he freaks out over a pigeon in the house. His brilliance is carried over into the second season, which airs on the heels of this DVD release.
Mockumentaries are hard to do, and they’re becoming a little overdone, pioneered with “Arrested Development” and perfected with “The Office.” The format works in this show, and it is executed perfectly. There’s a reason the show has won an Emmy.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
As I said previously, the first episode or two takes some time for the show to find its footing. In particular, Claire and Phil’s family is presented as very normal, but they’re insane people. Like other television families, like the Scavos on “Desperate Housewives,” who are presented as the typical family even though they’re anything but.
I really don’t have any complaints about this series by the end of the season, and I’m looking forward to season two.
The first season DVD includes a gag reel, deleted, extended and alternate scenes on many episodes and deleted family interviews which are quite funny. There’s also a series of featurettes, including “The Making of Modern Family: ‘Family Portrait,’” “Modern Family ‘Hawaii,’” “Fizbo the Clown” about Eric Stonestreet’s real clown character, “Real Modern Family Moments” which features cast and crew stories about their own families and “Before Modern Family” which shows what the stars did before they landed their roles.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who like well-crafted mockumentary sit coms.