Modern Family – Season 2 (DVD review)

With no sophomore slump in sight, Modern Family’s second season continues to be as laugh-out-loud funny as the first. The adventures of the Pritchetts and Dunphys are still born of character, lovable yet flawed characters, who show us an extended family with genuine affection for each other rather than just seeing each other as fodder for jokes.

My favorite two episodes of the 24-episode season are “Strangers on a Treadmill” and “Slowdown Your Neighbors.” In the first, brother and sister Mitchell and Claire are exercising together and hit on the idea to have Mitchell tell Claire’s husband Phil that his jokes are going to bomb at an upcoming work dinner at which he will be Master of Ceremonies, and Claire will tell Mitchell’s partner Cameron that his extremely tight biker shorts are not appropriate wear for … anywhere. Of course Claire follows through, hurting Cam’s feelings, while Mitchell chokes in telling Phil that the jokes he has planned for the Realtor’s banquet are going to go over like a lead balloon.

In “Slowdown Your Neighbors”, Claire is so indignant about a speed demon who repeatedly zooms by the house that she posts a sign she thinks says “Slow Down [license plate number] signed Your Neighbors.” However, her family points out that it actually reads “Slow Down Your Neighbors.”  Meanwhile, Claire and Mitch’s father, Jay, learns that neither his wife Gloria nor stepson Manny can ride a bike, and Claire’s son Luke teaches Gloria by shooting a water pistol at her so she will flee him. Finally, in my favorite plot, Cameron and Mitchell have a new neighbor, of whom Cameron is welcoming and Mitchell wary. Cam pointed out that Mitchell has a history of being too hard on people he has just met. “You wrote off Scott because he served the salad after dinner, which is very common in Europe. “ “What part of Europe is he from?” snarked Mitchell. “Pretentioustan?”  A standout here is guest star James Marsden, who is pitch-perfect as the not-as-together-as-he-seems neighbor.

Each episode continues to have 3 stories, one for each household, with points of intersection.

Continuity is clearly the key here, and the team of Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, who collaborated on Frasier, continue to executive produce and to write many episodes. Emmy continues to love the show, and it won this year for Best Comedy Series, Best Writing, Best Direction, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Ty Burrell (Phil) and Julie Bowen (Claire). I find the categories puzzling because I do not see any of the adult actors on this show having a more supporting and less lead role. I guess that is what happens when you have a true ensemble.

Where this DVD set disappoints is the extras. There are some extended scenes, most of which leave you scratching your head over what was cut out of the finished version, and a couple of rather uninspired featurettes. Even the gag reel, which is usually pretty hysterical even for shows which aren’t comedies, falls pretty flat here.

by Heather Craig

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