Modern Family: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
Directed by Jason Winer et al
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 513 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
MSRP: $ 59.99
Release Date: September 21, 2010
Review Date: September 22, 2010
The funniest comedy series currently on network television, Modern Family brought back the family sitcom in a really big way after years of being relegated to an afterthought while workplace comedies moved to the forefront. This amazingly funny and insightful look at modern parenting, sibling relationships, and parental-children conflicts hits on all cylinders scoring laugh-out-loud moments in every episode, and with only two episodes during the season which could be said to not maintain the super high standard of the rest of the season, Modern Family emerged as this year’s real comedy find. Its six Emmy awards, including being named Outstanding Comedy Series, attest to its new status as one of network television’s true gems. It is indeed a treasure.
The families in question number three. First up is wealthy, middle aged Jay (Ed O'Neill) and his wife of six months Gloria (Sofia Vergara) who brings with her old soul eleven year old Manny (Rico Rodriguez) from her first marriage. Next is Jay’s daughter Claire (Julie Bowen) and her man-child husband Phil (Ty Burrell) and their three children: the brilliant Alex (Ariel Winter) and her siblings older sister Haley (Sarah Hyland) and younger brother Luke (Nolan Gould) who together have a combined I.Q. comparable to a piece of loaf bread. Finally there are Jay’s gay son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and his partner of five years Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) who have just adopted a Vietnamese baby Lily. With families this sizable and diverse, any combination of characters is bound to generate tremendous laughs, and they truly are a group of hysterically funny, endearing, and memorable characters. The fact that the show’s writers deftly manage multiple storylines each episode is simply amazing and worthy of utmost praise.
And whoever the genius was who cast these superb actors into these roles deserves some kind of prize (actually, Modern Family won the Emmy for casting of a series this year). Gloria with her twisted English, Manny who is a sage living in the body of an eleven year old, Cameron who makes it his business to find happiness for all around him, Phil whose childlike glee about electronic things and belief in magic make him the most endearing nerd possible: these characters are embodied by such brilliant actors that it’s a pleasure to watch them work in each episode. Apart from the absolute hilarity of the stories and performances each week, these actors bring a smile to the face by just facing the camera. Yes, the show uses one of those faux documentary style templates with the characters often talking straight to the camera and with a crew around filming the families as they conduct their daily lives. So whether Phil is pining for an iPad or dreading going under the house to explore amid the possibilities of spiders and other creepy crawlies, whether Cameron is dressing up as Fizbo the Clown to entertain at a child’s birthday party or hosting his gardener’s wedding, whether Manny is making dates on the internet with middle aged women or making his family proud while excelling in fencing: the documentary cameras pick it all up with candid confessions adding to the fun.
And while the show isn’t bursting with guest stars each week, the stars who have shown up in very particular and outstanding roles have been expertly chosen: Shelley Long as Jay’s addled first wife, Edward Norton as a faded British pop star, Elizabeth Banks as a former close friend of Cam and Mitch who has faded in importance after the adoption of Lily, Benjamin Bratt as Manny’s often absentee father, Chazz Palminteri as Jay’s close, closeted friend, Minnie Driver as a former work associate of Claire whose professional life has blossomed after Claire left to become a mother, and Fred Willard as Phil’s senior citizen nerdy dad. These guest stars match the perfection of the core cast’s performances to a stunning degree.
Here are the twenty-four season one episodes contained on the three discs in this set:
1 – Pilot
2 – The Bicycle Thief
3 – Come Fly with Me
4 – The Incident
5 – Coal Digger
6 – Run for Your Wife
7 – En Garde
8 – Great Expectations
9 – Fizbo
10 – Undeck the Halls
11 – Up All Night
12 – Not in My House
13 – Fifteen Percent
14 – Moon Landing
15 – My Funky Valentine
16 – Fears
17 – Truth Be Told
18 – Starry Night
19 – Game Changer
20 – Benched
21 – Travels with Scout
22 – Airport 2010
23 – Hawaii
24 – Family Portrait
The program is framed at 1.78:1 and broadcast over ABC at 720p, and these 1080p transfers replicate the solid, secure look of the network program. What you won’t see, however, is any great difference between the imagery. The programs display a colorful and sharp look, but nothing stands out as breathtakingly dimensional or superbly rendered. There won’t be any complaints: the visuals are free of artifacts and display good flesh tone accuracy and excellent black levels. Each episode has been divided into 5 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix delivers the show’s most important aural dimension, dialogue, with clear and solid precision. There is almost nothing, however, done with the surround elements of the mix with any ambient sounds usually placed across the front soundstage and the rear soundstage being merely an afterthought.
The deleted scenes and featurettes are all presented in 1080p.
Each of the three discs contains deleted, extended, and outtake scenes for the episodes which reside on that particular disc. They run 15, 20 ¾, and 9 ½ minutes respectively and can be played together or be selected by program.
Each of the first two discs contains deleted or extended on-camera interview segments for the episodes which reside on that particular disc. They run 9 and 1 ½ minutes respectively and can be played together or be selected by program.
The season one gag reel runs 5 ¾ minutes.
“Real Modern Family Moments” is an interesting featurette where a series of writers and producers on the show describe real-life situations in their families which led to plots for episodes during the first season. This runs for 10 ½ minutes.
“Before Modern Family” has all of the principal cast members (even the child actors except Lily naturally) briefly talking about their careers prior to landing their jobs on this show. It runs for 13 minutes.
“Fizbo the Clown” allows Emmy-winning actor Eric Stonestreet a chance to describe his invention of Fizbo years before he appeared on the show. Some home video footage of Fizbo taking part in parades and at parties is shown in this 4 ¼-minute featurette.
“Modern Family: Making of ‘Family Portrait’” is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the episode that served as the season finale for the show. Actors, director Jason Winer, and producers talk about what making the series has meant to them. It runs 9 ¼ minutes.
“Modern Family: ‘Hawaii’” is another behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the penultimate episode in Hawaii with cast, crew, and director/creator Steven Levitan commenting on filming in a tropical paradise. It lasts 5 ¼ minutes.
4.5/5 (not an average)
Clearly one of the best shows on television during the 2009-2010 season (which won, along with its Emmys, the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished programming), the first season of Modern Family is a must-watch, a hilarious and sometimes touching examination of living in today’s world with a Blu-ray package that earns a very strong recommendation!