Modern Family breaks out from the home life in season three, moving out to the wilds in Wyoming, and taking a full, chaotic family trip to Disneyland with admirable plot devices. It’s breaking free from the shell the show typically follows, of setting up a narrative involving each sector of the family, forging ahead into sheer madness, and breaking down into a show of affection across lines. At this point, it’s almost too predictable.
In the scheme of current TV comedies, Modern Family does it best, having a blast with a faux-reality show gimmick that can never wear thin. Under the guidance of “always on” cameras, the Pritchett’s, Tuckers, and Dunphy’s are almost use to this unacknowledged intrusion. The fourth wall breaking is ingenious.
Breaking boundaries and being relatively coy with much of its humor, the show demands attention because it’s too easy to gloss over high-end lines treating Modern Family as a general sitcom. The show is smarter than it leads itself onto. The set up is rife for continued gags, or at least until this multicultural set-up somehow wears thin, or becomes less relevant to the audience… which will probably be never.
Even if it reaches for a knee-slapper here and there, the show will become a perfect time capsule. It snips at reality TV, mocks the modern hierarchical tiers within America’s homes, and is never abrasive when dealing with issues that may offend. Modern Family is credited with opening people’s eyes when it comes to gay adoptions, and while it’s almost tragic it had to be a fictional TV show, at least someone took the initiative.
Settled in over time, Modern Family has built a dream cast of top tier talent, and the show wouldn’t be the same with a single missing piece. Together as a whole – and the show typically finds a reason to bring them all together before the end of each episode – they feel like a single, genuinely affectionate unit, if suitably dysfunctional for our own amusement. Then it clicks that it’s only funny because it’s not you.
Any Blu-ray edition of Modern Family will eclipse the TV broadcast, if only due to current technology and local network quirks. The show locally is endlessly filtered and noise reduced making it a sloppy mess, and this Blu-ray a joy. It’s stunning to view the show (rendered in non-TV like 1080p) glisten and score this much definition. Close-ups feel natural even if they’re not hitting a home run, and rarely does the digital facade the show was captured with feel intrusive.
Pushing superlative black levels and dense contrast, Modern Family is an eye-popper for sure. Location shoots are consistent with a rare instance of lower quality video use that will fade the image (including car interiors). Aliasing and minimal flicker are quick to subside. Problems are dealt with swiftly before returning the show to its clear, rich look.
It doesn’t hurt when saturation levels are high, even if they’re not as sugar coated as co-comedy The Middle. Flesh tones are breezy and primaries can soar given the chance. Noise free as it is, the encode is clear to handle a rather high level of motion blur that can hit the video hard in spots. Artifacting on an encode level is no concern. Problems are purely with the source, and not detrimental enough to warrant too tough a warning. Just enjoy.
Quick and dirty television doesn’t allow much time for intangibles, but here’s a show that likes to set itself up for sharp audio. Homes feel spacious with wide dialogue echoes that sell these rooms, halls, and other spots. It’s nifty to hear it disappear when inside an attic. Large locations such as a Target store or Disneyland space out crowds and bring the viewer in. Stereos won’t do much, but there’s not much opportunity to. Balance favors dialogue, and that’s clearly crucial.
After a direct intro, the theme song kicks in full, a heavy, weighted theme that dominates for about 30 seconds as it fills available channels. Only the super sensitive will glean any difference between the broadcast and DTS-HD mix, although any fears are at ease knowing it’s not being crushed under the weight of the broadcast system.
Each disc will carry their own burden in terms of extras, but there are consistencies. Each holds a set of deleted scenes relevant to the episodes on the disc, averaging out to seven minutes a piece. Disc one’s featurettes include Destination Wyoming, a look into the premiere plus local media coverage. A Day on the Set with Ty follows Burrell during his typical day on set. Adventures with the Modern Family Kids tracks the youngest set as they have a blast during the Wyoming run.
Disc two deals with the Christmas episode, a rather useless feature as it merely recounts the events with no info on the process. Driving Lessons is much the same as the kids rattle of their scene interspersed with finished clips. The lengthiest thing on any disc is a piece on Ed O’Neill’s Walk of Fame ceremony at 16:46.
Modern Family Goes to Disneyland is a three-minute clip piece on how the shoot was while retelling plot points. The set will end with a funny gag reel that is probably the best part of the set beyond the episodes themselves.
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Note: All screens come from a variety of episodes from the first disc and show some of the variances in quality.