Modern Family: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
Directed by Michael Spiller et al
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 528 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Review Date: September 21, 2011
The families in question number three. First up is wealthy, middle-aged Jay (Ed O'Neill) and his wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara) who brings with her old soul twelve year old Manny (Rico Rodriguez) from her first marriage. Next is Jay’s daughter Claire (Julie Bowen who won this year's Emmy for supporting actress) and her man-child husband Phil (Ty Burrell who won this year's Emmy for supporting actor) and their three children: the brilliant Alex (Ariel Winter) and her siblings: older flirty sister Haley (Sarah Hyland) and younger (and somewhat I.Q. challenged) brother Luke (Nolan Gould). Finally there are Jay’s gay son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and his partner of six years Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) who are settling in with their adopted Vietnamese baby Lily. With families this sizable and diverse, any combination of characters is bound to generate tremendous laughs (the fact that the characters mix and match so effortlessly is one of the show’s most genius components), and they truly are a group of hilarious, endearing, and memorable characters. In fact, the show’s writers deftly manage multiple storylines in each episode that are simply amazing and worthy of utmost praise.
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 spending a relaxing day at the spa learning truths about women or frightened that Claire is going to leave him as the neighbor’s wife left her husband, whether Cameron is wanting once again to dress up as Fizbo the Clown to entertain at his child’s Princess birthday party or directing the school musical pageant, whether Manny is worrying that his childhood has passed him by or is doing health diagnostics from the internet: the documentary cameras pick it all up with candid confessions adding to the fun.
Four episodes really stood out this season. “Halloween” (which won Michael Spiller the Best Director Emmy) finds Claire trying her best to get the family in the spirit of the holiday while Gloria fumes about people making fun of her accent. “Slow Down Your Neighbors” finds all three plots among the best ever written for the show – Jay teaches Manny and Gloria how to ride a bicycle, Phil and Claire attempt to deal with someone speeding through their neighborhood, and Cam and Mitch find a charming squatter (James Marsden) living in Lily’s Princess Castle (the best episode of the season). “Bixby’s Back” is another sensational Valentine’s Day episode where Phil and Claire’s alter egos Clive and Julianna attempt another hotel rendezvous with catastrophic results. And the season finale finds put-upon Jay wanting to enjoy a quiet, relaxing birthday and having to endure intrusions from every one of his family members. Though not a guest star-plagued show, a few select ones made strong impressions this season namely Nathan Lane as Cam and Mitch’s affected friend Pepper (earning an Emmy nomination) and Shelley Long returning as Jay’s ex-wife with a boy toy (Matt Dillon) in tow.
Here are the twenty-four episodes contained on three discs in this second season set:
1 – The Old Wagon
2 – The Kiss
3 – Earthquake
4 – Strangers on a Treadmill
5 – Unplugged
6 – Halloween
7 – Chirp
8 – Manny Get Your Gun
9 – Mother Tucker
10 – Dance Dance Revelation
11 – Slow Down Your Neighbors
12 – Our Children, Ourselves
13 – Caught in the Act (Emmy winner for Best Comedy Writing)
14 – Bixby’s Back
15 – Princess Party
16 – Regrets Only
17 – Two Monkeys and a Panda
18 – Boys’ Night
19 – The Musical Man
20 – Someone to Watch Over Lily
21 – Mother’s Day
22 – Good Cop Bad Dog
23 – See You Next Fall
24 – The One That Got Away
The program is shown in 720p on ABC, and these 1080p transfers (AVC codec) do look a bit sharper and more defined than their network counterparts. Color is beautifully saturated with very pleasing and warm colors and with accurate flesh tones. Sharpness throughout is exemplary. Despite only average black levels, contrast is outstanding making for a very dimensional picture. Each episode has been divided into 5 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track offers a solid encode for the show’s most important element: dialogue. It’s placed firmly in the center channel and has been expertly recorded. Occasionally, there are some fleeting uses of the fronts and rears for ambient sounds: voices of children playing trick or treat, muffled chatter in several restaurant scenes and the like. Apart from the main title music, a background score is not really present in the series.
All bonus material is presented in 1080p.
Each disc contains alternate takes/additional interview snippets. On disc one they run 4 minutes, one disc two they’re 4 ¾ minutes, and one disc three they are 2 minutes.
There are deleted/extended scenes on each disc running 10, 10 ¾, and 1 minute respectively.
“Strangers on a Treadmill” Table Read finds the cast doing a table read of this episode in front of a huge audience at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It’s introduced by creator/producer Steve Levitan and runs for 37 ½ minutes.
“Mitch’s Flash Mob” is a brief 2 ¾-minute vignette about the staging of the flash mob scene in “Dance Dance Revelation” featuring producer Danny Zucker and co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
“‘Imagine Me Naked’ music video” is the love song boy friend Dylan (actor Reid Ewing) sings to Haley in “Bixby’s Back.”
The season two gag reel runs 8 ½ minutes.
“Modern Family Holidays” is a 13-minute look at three of the holida-themed episodes from season two. Producer Danny Zuker and the cast discuss the episodes that revolve around Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Halloween.
“Waiting for Oprah” is a brief 3 ¾-minute vignette as the cast prepares for an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
“Chatting with Steve Levitan” is a brief 4 ¼-minute interview with creator/producer Steve Levitan as he ruminates over the monumental success of the show’s first two seasons. He discusses how real life family situations spur story ideas for the show and also mentions a few prominent guest stars the show brought on board this season.
“At Home with Modern Family” takes the viewer on a tour of the three sets that are the residences of the three families and compares them to the real-life homes which were used in the pilot episode. This runs 6 ¼ minutes.
The disc has promo trailers for Fox series, FX series, Raising Hope, and Bones.
4.5/5 (not an average)
Clearly one of the best shows on television during the 2010-2011 season, the second season of Modern Family was even better than its first, making it a must-watch show, a hilarious and sometimes touching examination of living in today’s world with a Blu-ray package that earns a very strong recommendation!