Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Modern Family – The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review

America’s favorite extended family is back for even more laughs as Modern Family returns with this season two Blu-ray set!  This season two set is packed with tons of exclusive features and never-before-seen footage,and all 24 episodes of the critically acclaimed hit, plus deleted family interviews, extended and deleted scenes, a hilarious gag reel, a music video and much more.  The Pritchett clan has Jay sitting at the head, a true guys’ guy experiencing a bit of mid-life crisis, has remarried a much younger wife, Gloria, whose passion and loyalty is matched by her 11-year-old son, Manny, a boy wise beyond his years. Blending together into this new family has quite the learning curve with some culture clashes, a few awkward misunderstandings, and plenty of sweet victories along the way.  Modern Family was nominated for seventeen Emmy’s this year and ended up winning  five Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Writing for a Comedy Series and Directing for a Comedy Series, all of which except for the latter were consecutive wins.

Phil: We raised our kids right. One of them will come forward, or the other  two will rat them out.

Film (5 out of 5 stars)

As a big fan of this show and having already reviewed season one (which you can read here), so I was happy to review the second season as well.  Now that the characters have been established during the first season, the second season goes a little bit deeper into what makes this family both unique and relatable for its viewers.  Part of the reason the show is so popular is because it truly does represent a “modern family.”  Most families now have some members that have gotten divorced and remarried, stepchildren and stepparents, and both gay and straight family members and their partners as well.
Jay: [to Manny and Luke] Boys, here’s the only thing you need to know about being a man. Never let someone take what is yours.
Phil: Unless it’s just a parking spot and there’s plenty of others.
Jay: That’s sweet, Phil. You gotta write that down. You got any lipstick in your purse?
For the Pritchett clan, the head of the family is Jay (Ed O’ Neill), who is a stereotypical Baby Boomer Dad who likes things simple including his food (he’s a steak and potatoes man) and he has a gruff exterior that hides a caring person.  He also has trouble showing affection to his children partly due to how he was raised by his father, but this season shows him attempting to become a better father.  Despite these shortcomings, Jay was still able to remarry a beautiful woman who is half of his age named Gloria (Sofia Vergara) and he is now the step-dad to her young son Manny (Rico Rodriguez).
Jay’s children Mitchell and Claire have their own families and issues.  Mitchell is a successful lawyer who has adopted a Vietnamese daughter with his partner Cameron.  Despite being gay, Mitchell is more like his father than either of them believes since both have trouble showing affection in public.   Cameron on the other hand, is openly affectionate and is the more flamboyant of the two.  Watching the two of them trying to raise their young daughter and continue to be accepted by Jay.  By this point, Cameron has been accepted by the family including Jay, and during this season their concerns are more about getting their daughter Lily into a good preschool and networking with the right parents.
Claire: I was out of control growing up, there you know, I said it. I just don’t want my kids to make the same bad mistakes I made. If Haley never wakes up on a beach in Florida half naked, I’ve done my job.
Phil: Our job.
Claire: Right, I’ve done our job.
Jay’s daughter Claire is still overcompensating with her three children, Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter), and the dimwitted Luke (Nolan Gould).  Her goofy husband Phil (Ty Burrell) could at times be counted as one of the kids because of his unique parenting technique of “peerenting” (act like a parent but talk like a peer) and his attempts to be the coolest Dad in the world.  Most of the time, Phil fails spectacularly and ends up embarrassing his kids, but they know he loves them.  Their kids are a mix of their parents since Haley is rebellious like her mother was when she was young, Alex is an overachiever like her mother is now, and Luke is like a younger version of Phil except being a little less bright.
Living up to their amazing first season is a tall order but the cast and crew pull it off for the most part.  Not every episode is perfect but it comes a lot closer than just about every other show on television.  The show is consistently funny, smart, and the situations that the families get themselves into are issues that most families can empathize with. Whether it’s trying to sell something sentimental, dealing with family jealousies, trying to teach non-technical people how to operate electronics, or trying to set an example for your kids, all of these are things that most families deal with and part of the show’s success is how well it gets you to identify with the characters.
Phil: Claire likes to say “You can be part of the problem, or part of the solution.” But I happen to believe you can be both.
In a lot of ways, I’m a Phil man and Ty Burrell cracks me up every episode especially with lines like “Why do I have to watch a French movie?  I didn’t do anything wrong,” or “Sorry guys, I can’t be in Vegas because my wife’s having a breakdown. Believe me, you don’t want to make that call to a bunch of former male cheerleaders.  They will mock you with a hurtful rhythmic chant.”  Both he and his onscreen wife Julie Bowen justifiably won an Emmy this year for their roles.  Their chemistry is amazing and they are a crack comedy team.  But that can really be said about all of the cast-members since each of them is extremely good (and more importantly funny) in their roles.  With three relatable yet different families to choose from, there’s something for everyone to relate to which I think explains why the show has so many fans from such a wide variety of demographics.

Phil: My wife is always so tired and she’s always making lists of things for me to do.  Claire: Maybe if you did them she wouldn’t be so tired.  Phil: Oh no, she could make lists for days.

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Much like the first season set, the video quality is very impressive and it looks great on Blu-ray!  This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer offers a lot of detail that picks up textures nicely.  The show doesn’t suffer from the same issues that affect other shows since it’s filmed in high definition so it’s already a step ahead of a lot of shows.  Colors are bright and vibrant especially during scenes like Lily’s princess themed birthday party that’s full of color from the balloons and the rest of the decorations.  Flesh tones look natural and consistent throughout the show for both indoor and outdoor scenes and the contrast is excellent.  Black levels are also very good with a inky darkness to them for the rare scenes that call for it.  This is an excellent transfer with only the most minute of problems that aren’t even worth mentioning.

Gloria: [to Jay and Manny, about learning to ride a bike] You two have fun. I pass. It makes no sense. There’s no reason that thing should stay upright.  Jay: There’s no reason you should stay upright, but it just works.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

Modern Family’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is also very good and works perfectly for this kind of show.  It is a front heavy mix which is appropriate for a dialogue heavy show but the rear speakers do get called into action on occasion for ambient effects or music, like when Mitchell joins a flash mob dance party.  The dialogue is clear and sounds great as does the show’s theme song.  All in all, this is a very good mix and sounds even better than it needs to, (not that I’m complaining)!

Mitchell: There are very few parenting issues where I come out on top. I’m distant, I work too much, my french braiding is sloppy. Finally something that’s not my fault!

Special Features (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

These are fantastic special features and I liked that they added some new stuff that usually isn’t included such as the full table read of a script by the entire cast in front of a live audience.  All of these are also in high definition which makes me even happier.
  • Deleted Family Interview - Spread out across each disc you’ll find a few minutes of the family interviews included.  This season’s deleted interviews aren’t as strong as the previous one but it’s still fun to see some extra stuff.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes – Much like the interviews, the deleted scenes are spread across all three discs and there’s some decent stuff included.
  • Imagine Me Naked Music Video – A music video starring Haley’s dimwitted boyfriend Dylan.
  • Strangers on a Treadmill Table Read – The entire cast performs a table read in front of a live audience which is great since we get to see them both in and out of character having fun with each other.  They are allowed to break character so there’s a lot of laughing going on too.
  • Mitch’s Flash Mob - A look behind the scenes of the staging and preparation of Mitchell’s flash mob scene.  We also hear some thoughts about it from Jesse Tyler Ferguson and how he prepared for it too.
  • Gag Reel - This is a pretty long gag reel (almost nine minutes) but it’s funny to watch and I’m glad they included it.
  • Modern Family Holidays - The show’s stars talk about the holiday themed episodes that took place this year.
  • Waiting for Oprah - When Oprah sent a crew to capture the process of filming Modern Family, that crew was also filmed for this extra so you get to see it from their side.
  • Chatting with Steve Levitan – A talk with the executive producer/co-creator Steve Levitan about the show.
  • At Home with Modern Family - An informal behind the scenes tour of Mitch and Cam’s house with production designer Richard Berg who talks about trying to keep it looking like it did the first season despite changes made to it for continuity reasons.
Claire: We need a game plan, we need to map out exactly what we are going to say, because that is the only way I will be able to hold it together while our babies look at us with judgment and disgust.  Phil: That’s how they always look at us.

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars)

This is my favorite comedy on TV right now and I highly recommend this set to fans of the show and to those of you that may not have seen it yet.  Now that the first two seasons are out on Blu-ray, there’s never been a better time to start watching the show.  The cast and the writers are brilliant and deserve all of the Emmys that they just won.  Take a look at the show and you won’t be disappointed!

Order your copy today!

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