Modern Family has been a hit, and favorite of mine, going all the way back to the beginning, which is rare for any show. –Check the initial review here– The Season 4 Blu-Ray release doesn’t hold back, and it’s one that fans will be happy to add to their collection.
The show can’t stop winning Emmys, and each year fans have to wonder if things are going to slow down. The critics had their moments with season 4, voicing concerns about certain twists, in much the way that anything that is popular enough, long enough, is due for some amount of backlash.
What pulls this show along, through the potential minefield that is each successive season, is that the writers progress the characters, but not the series. That may not sound like a compliment actually, but a lot of series these days, even sitcoms, decide after a while that the general feel of a show needs a shift (or they simply can’t manage the same feel anymore), but Modern Family has stuck to its guns when it comes to the structure that pulls us along.
This is how the show can throw new elements in that are usually the kiss of death for a show, like the “new kid,” which is just as often a complete cop-out that spells doom, because it means the writers are admitting they have no real ideas. With Modern Family, whether someone is going off to college, there’s a new baby, people look for new jobs, you get it the Modern Family version of doing these things, and it’s just a statement that life happens to our characters, not that we don’t know what to do with them anymore.
From kicking off the season with Haley’s short foray into the world of higher education, to the trip to Florida that surrounds the death of Phil’s mother, everything is managed with its own unique spin that fits with the characters. Whether we’re looking at more or less mundane circumstances, or throwing out truly zany misadventures (going back even to series high points like Phil and Claire’s screwball roleplay at the hotel bar), the show knows how to get comedy out of its characters, and how to balance it all. This leads to – funny because it’s so watchable – as opposed to – watchable because it’s funny – which is something few shows figure out.
The show also continues it’s tradition of bringing in not only big name guest stars, but guest stars who can truly deliver the brand of comedy we’re after. Matthew Broderick stands out as someone who showed up and made you feel almost as though he had always been part of the cast. Shelley Long and Elizabeth Banks had equally solid turns, and several other new additions and guests punch up the show’s abilities nicely.
Finally, one aspect that has always kept fans glued to their set is the fact that everyone gets their time to shine, usually in each episode. We may focus on the school trip, or the adoption that didn’t go through, but there’s room enough for everyone, and no one gets the short end of the comedy stick as we’re putting the episode together. On any given night, the thing to talk about may be, for example, Cam and Mitchell’s encounter with the lesbian couple, but that doesn’t mean we were drifting when we turned away from them.
Season 4 may have had a few moments that weren’t the best the show has ever put out, but the zippy, clever banter remains, and the exploration of the characters and relationships is as solid as ever. The sofa moments still manage an impressive quick cut at the heart of the matter, and when the show wraps with an emotional tug, it never loses sight of why we’re watching.
Modern Family Season 4 Blu-Ray Special Features
The big news on this set is the commentary tracks, something that is becoming more of a standard, but hasn’t been around for Modern Family until now. They’re decent tracks, and fans will appreciate getting some insight from the writers and show creator Steven Levitan, but I imagine most purchasers are going to feel a bit cheated that they aren’t getting any of the cast. Still, these are a lot of fun, as you’d expect, especially because these are obviously people who know how to work an audience. You get a good deal of story background, and a bit on how things came together on certain episodes.
Also included are some of your usual featurettes which aim at a certain aspect of the show and give a little, fun detail about it. An Addition to the Family spotlights the new arrival, A Day with Eric is a follow-up to the last releases similar behind-the-scenes run with Ty Burrell, and we follow Eric Stonestreet through a day of production. It’s a lot of fun, and you get to see some of the people working to make the show, and the alleged frantic run that is life as an actor. Modern Family Writers is practically a continuation of the commentary tracks, as we get the writers around a table to go over some of the things that were carved from their own lives to create moments in the show.
There are a few more, including a “Parenting Guide,” which is a kind of clip compilation, deleted scenes, and a pretty impressive gag reel that runs far longer than what you could from most shows, which isn’t surprising.
Overall, the show is still going strong, and this is a great release that aims at providing a lot of bang for your buck. TV series are becoming more and more conscious of adding special features, but a lot of them don’t amount to much. This one gives you the sort of things fans are after and are going to enjoy.
Check out a couple of clips below, and be sure to enter for your chance to win your very own copy of the Modern Family Season 4 Blu-Ray.
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