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"Modern Family" The Complete First Season DVD Review - Page 2 of 2

Modern Family: The Complete First Season DVD cover art - buy from Amazon.com Modern Family: Season One (2009-10)
Show & DVD Details

Creators: Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd / Writers: Steven Levitan, Paul Corrigan, Brad Walsh, Christopher Lloyd, Bill Wrubel, Dan O'Shannon, Danny Zuker, Joe Lawson, Caroline Williams, Jerry Collins, Alex Herschlag, Vanessa McCarthy, Ilana Wernick / Directors: Jason Winer, Reginald Hudlin, Randall Einhorn, Michael Spiller, Chris Koch, Kevin Sullivan, Seth Gordon, Steven Levitan

Regular Cast: Ed O'Neill (Jay Pritchett), Sofia Vergara (Gloria Delgado-Pritchett), Julie Bowen (Claire Dunphy), Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell Pritchett), Eric Stonestreet (Cameron Tucker), Sarah Hyland (Haley Dunphy), Ariel Winter (Alex Dunphy), Nolan Gould (Luke Dunphy), Rico Rodriguez (Manny Delgado)

Recurring Characters: Reid Ewing (Dylan), Jayden & Ella Hiller (Lily Pritchett-Tucker), Fred Willard (Frank Dunphy), Suzy Nakamura (Dr. Miura), Andrew Borba (Mr. Balaban)

Notable Guest Stars: Brandy Ledford (Desiree), Shelley Long (Dede Pritchett), Mo Collins (Denise), Elizabeth Banks (Sal), Edward Norton (Izzy LaFontaine), Margo Harshman (Jungle Tanya), Brian T. Finney (Scott), Benjamin Bratt (Javier Delgado), Chazz Palminteri (Shorty), Kristen Schaal (Whitney), Minnie Driver (Valerie), David Brenner (Himself), Jackson Odell (Ted Durkas), Dale E. Turner (Jenkins), Judy Greer (Denise), Bruce Altman (Mr. Jennings), Jason Antoon (Apple Customer), Justin Kirk (Charlie Bingham), Eric Lange (Coach Stupak), Christopher Shea (Ben Dugan), Tom Wright (Security Guard), Patrick Stafford (Jeff), Kobe Bryant (Himself)

Running Time: 513 Minutes (24 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Cantonese
Closed Captioned; Extras Not Captioned or Subtitled
Release Date: September 21, 2010; Season 1 Airdates: September 30, 2009 - May 19, 2010
Four single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Clear Keepcase with Cardboard Slipcover
Suggested Retail Price: $59.98; Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($69.99 SRP)

Buy Modern Family: Season One from Amazon.com: DVD Blu-ray

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Jay (Ed O'Neill) tries to get his old friend and golf partner Shorty (Chazz Palminteri) to share his secret in "Fifteen Percent." Phil and Claire's exciting Valentine's Day plans come undone when her trenchcoat (the only thing she's wearing) gets caught in the hotel escalator.

Disc 3

13. Fifteen Percent (21:38) (Originally aired January 20, 2010)
Mitchell is bothered by the way Jay introduces Cameron to his friends. Claire struggles to understand the remote for the family room's new home theater system. Gloria gives a makeover to an underconfident woman (Kristen Schaal) who comes for a date with online pal Manny.

14. Moon Landing (21:37) (Originally aired February 3, 2010)
Claire thinks about giving up her career for family, while meeting with her increasingly successful former colleague Valerie (Minnie Driver). Mitchell meets with Gloria to represent her in a car crash lawsuit. Jay and Cam play racquetball.

15. My Funky Valentine (21:36) (Originally aired February 10, 2010)
Phil and Claire try to spice things up with a Valentine's Day of hotel role-playing. Mitchell and Cam help Manny try to win the girl he likes. Jay and Gloria see corny stand-up comedian David Brenner.

Home is where the treasure hunt begins for Phil and Luke in "Fears", as a coy comment leads them to explore the crawlspace under their house. Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) fears his boss may have just heard himself badmouthed through his car window at their shared traffic light.

16. Fears (21:07) (Originally aired March 3, 2010)
Phil and Luke look for treasure under the house, Gloria tries to get Manny to face his fear of roller coasters, Mitchell and Cam have Lily's pediatrician over for brunch, and Haley takes her road test.

17. Truth Be Told (21:37) (Originally aired March 10, 2010)
Phil reconnects with an ex-girlfriend (Judy Greer) to Claire's jealous suspicions. Jay lies to cover up his accidental killing of Manny's pet turtle. An overworked Mitchell quits his job.

18. Starry Night (21:17) (Originally aired March 24, 2010)
Manny's presence encroaches upon Jay and Cameron's traditional meteor shower watching. Cam tries hard to make Gloria happy on their night out. Phil helps Luke and Claire helps Haley with school projects.

Phil (Ty Burrell) spends part of his birthday at a party that isn't for him. Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) find themselves trapped in the garage of Mitchell's potential new employer in "Benched."

Disc 4

19. Game Changer (21:34) (Originally aired March 31, 2010)
Phil's birthday is marked by disappointment, starting with Claire sleeping through the iPad release day launch line. Mitchell and Cam overhear another couple's issues in their baby monitor. Manny lets Jay win at chess.

20. Benched (21:03) (Originally aired April 14, 2010)
Jay won't give Phil the chance to coach Manny and Luke's basketball team. Mitchell considers a new job offer, while he and Cam hide their real feelings from one another. Claire and Gloria are saddened by their kids wanting space from them.

21. Travels with Scout (21:37) (Originally aired April 28, 2010)
Phil's father (Fred Willard) visits along with a dog named Scout. Cam fills in as drummer of Haley's boyfriend's band. Manny is scared by a horror movie Jay takes him to.

In Hawaii, Claire (Julie Bowen) and Phil (Ty Burrell) try to enjoy a honeymoon away from their kids. Appearing on the Staples Center Kiss Cam with Gloria (Sofia Vergara) makes Phil (Ty Burrell) visibly uncomfortable.

22. Airport 2010 (20:38) (Originally aired May 5, 2010)
Gloria surprises Jay for his birthday with a trip to Hawaii, for the whole family, with many scheduled activities. While Phil helps Mitchell rush home to retrieve his wallet in time for the flight, the rest of the family endures LAX.

23. Hawaii (21:28) (Originally aired May 12, 2010)
On vacation in Hawaii, a worried Jay tries to be active, Cam fesses up to Mitchell that he's not so adventurous, and Phil and Claire try for the honeymoon they never had.

24. Family Portrait (21:23) (Originally aired May 19, 2010)
Claire stresses in anticipation of the big family photo she's planned. While Cam sings at a wedding, Mitchell battles a pigeon inside the house. At the Lakers game, Phil and Gloria turn up on the Kiss Cam.

In a perk usually reserved for enduring series, the families of "Modern Family" haste not to take a family vacation, shot and set in Hawaii.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Modern Family" looks terrific in its DVD's 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The video remains immaculately clean and clear, with warm, natural colors and excellent detail. The Dolby 5.1 soundtracks stay mostly in the front channels, but do open up when appropriate. The audio is always pleasantly crisp, vital, and robust. Fox has also included a host of subtitles to fill in any uncertainties.

Mitchell and Claire join Manny for a Christmas morning staircase photo in this Disc 2 deleted scene. Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) does his impression of Claire's Richard Nixon impression in this deleted family interview.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The DVD's biggest bonus feature by length and number is deleted material. It is divided into two groups and provided on the same discs are the episodes it's meant for.
Presented with the same picture quality as the show, the content can be viewed per episode or per disc.

Most of the cut bits fall under the heading of "Deleted, Extended & Alternate Scenes", running 43 minutes and 22 seconds across the four discs. There are some amusing alternate Meryl Streep and Hall & Oates references, more of Phil's role-playing characters, more of David Brenner and Fred Willard. But, much of this isn't of note, offering slight extensions or variations on scenes that aired.

There are also a few "Deleted Family Interviews" (10:25) included on Discs 1 through 3. These mostly give us more of Phil and Claire and stem primarily from the early episodes with a rambling, improvised feel. There are certainly some funny moments, such as Phil's impressions of Claire's celebrity impressions, but once again nothing huge.

Ed O'Neill and Sofia Vergara crack up during a couch interview in the Season 1 "Modern Family" gag reel. "Real Modern Family Moments" shows us home video of the actual father-son air gun shooting worked into the pilot. The screen tests of child actor Rico Rodriguez and his castmates are excerpted in "Before Modern Family."

The remaining bonus features appear on Disc 4.

Upholding the tradition that the funnier something is, the more entertaining its outtakes will be, a Gag Reel (5:40) amuses with its assortment of bloopers in spite of someone making the "boop" transitional sound throughout.

"Real Modern Family Moments" (10:23) reveals the many storylines inspired by incidents in the lives of the writers and producers. Their funny anecdotes are even supplemented by home movies, photos, and under-house crawlspace exploration.

"Before Modern Family" (12:52) coolly puts perspective on the ten speaking principal cast members by letting them recount their previous working experiences in and out of the industry. We even get to see some screen tests.

I'd suspect the backstory on "Fizbo the Clown" was a joke if not for the real footage of a teenaged Eric Stonestreet performing as an Auguste at gatherings. Writer Ilana Wernick shows us the awkward family photo that inspired the season finale. Co-creator and executive producer Steven Levitan discusses the Hawaiian episode he personally directed.

In "Fizbo the Clown" (4:12), recent Emmy winner Eric Stonestreet explains how his colorful Auguste clown party character was born out of reality, complete with clips of him entertaining audiences as a teen.

"Making of 'Modern Family': 'Family Portrait'" (9:13) thoroughly deconstructs the creation of the season finale, from table read clips and writer Ilana Wernick showing the family photo that inspired her script to Stonestreet's singing rehearsal and ample on-set footage. It's a nice, revealing approach that few shows have previously thought to provide.

Finally, the featurette "Modern Family: Hawaii" (5:18) gathers on-location cast and crew comments on the Steve Levitan-directed vacation episode, really shot in Maui.

Mitchell's slow-motion chase of an intruding pigeon features among the Disc 4-specific bits of the animated main menu montage. The series' eleven regular family/cast members accompany the six entries of Disc 4's Episodes menu.

Disc One opens with promos for Fox dramas on DVD, "Glee": The Complete First Season, and Knight and Day.

The disc-specific main menu montages cycle through the cast with character clips, photo frame transitions, and an extended version of instrumental theme tune.

"Modern Family" is packaged in a clear, slipcovered, standard-sized keepcase. The discs, each of which is adorned with an object of relevance to it, are held on two swinging trays and the reverse artwork lists episodes and extras across from a dinosaur and robot drawing inspired by "Airport 2010." Such nice little touches are easy to appreciate.

"You too, brother." Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) proudly points out his latest accessory, a fake mustache. Well this is awkward... Jay (Ed O'Neill) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) come up from what's known as a moon landing in the locker room before their racquetball game.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"Modern Family" gives the family sitcom the mockumentary treatment with regularly diverting results. It may not be the absolute funniest comedy on television today, but it's definitely one of the most widely appealing. I hope it gets better before it gets worse. I enjoyed Season 1 enough to want to find out either way.

Fox's Complete First Season DVD is steeply priced but otherwise satisfying, with its first-rate picture and sound and a solid collection of worthwhile bonus features. I recommend both the release and the show it holds.

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Reviewed September 22, 2010.



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