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Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season (2012-2013)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/24/2013

All Ratings out of
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/10/2013

In my recent review for This is the End, I wrote about how Hollywood is afraid to take risks and experiment. On a similar note, those in entertainment rarely mess with success if it can be avoided. If something is popular and making money, why change the formula? Fortunately, there are those in show business who understand that things get stale and may fall out of favor if they don't change. As I write this, Modern Family was recently award it's fourth consecutive Best Comedy Emmy award. One would think that a show this successful with stick with what it knows best. But, the show has made some changes over the years -- changes which have only helped it.

I've mentioned before that I didn't watch the first season of Modern Family when it originally aired, as it looked like just another over-hyped ABC show. (Note to ABC: Quit over-hyping your shows. You sound like a carnival barker.) I didn't discover the show until it made its home video debut, and I believe at that point, it has already won its first Emmy. I found the show to be humorous and I liked the characters, but I didn't like the lack of continuity on the show. In essence, each episode was a stand-alone show and stories never flowed from episode-to-episode. This didn't make Modern Family a bad show, but it felt somewhat lazy, as if the writers didn't want to go out on a limb. As the show progressed, this approached and we began to get plots which stretched through multiple episodes. This really became a trend in Season Four.

Season Four is dominated by a few key storylines, some of which began in Season Three. As Season Three ended, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) learned that they weren't going to be able to adopt a new baby, so they begin pouring their energy into new things. However, Gloria (Sofia Vergara) revealed that she was pregnant. Now, Jay (Ed O'Neill) must deal with the fact that he's near retirement age and that he's going to be a father again. Manny (Rico Rodriguez) has to adjust to the fact that he'll no longer be Gloria's only child. Haley (Sarah Hyland) goes off to college, something which her parents, Claire (Julie Bowen) and Phil (Ty Burrell), thought would never happen, but things don't go so well for her. Meanwhile, Claire, Phil, Cam, and Mitch go in on a house together with the intent to renovate it and flip it.

I've said this before and I'll say it again -- I still don't think that Modern Family is the funniest show on TV. (That honor belong to either Parks & Recreation or Bob's Burgers.) Having said that, I do think that it's a solid, well-written show which consistently delivers laughs -- mainly from Phil and Cam. The decision to incorporate stories like Gloria's pregnancy (which is, admittedly, a bit hackneyed) and Haley's trouble with college, not only give the show more credence in my book, but they also give the writers more structure on which to hang subplots. Sure the show was good when each episode told its own story, but we now tune in not only for the laughs, but to actually see what is going on with the characters. Do the writers mine the same vein once too often? Yes, most notably when it comes to jokes related to Jay or Manny. These two characters are desperately in need of some traits for the writers to exploit.

Despite its flaws, Modern Family does deliver on a regular basis, and in today's world, that's really all that we can ask. The writing remains clever and while there are jokes for everyone, the show continues to deliver quick and very subtle lines for the truly astute viewers in the audience. As noted above, Jay and Cam often steal the show and Burrell and Stonestreet respectively keeps things moving with their great comedic timing. Yes, it's a bit cliched at times, but Modern Family proves that a show can be smart, silly, and entertaining.

Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season leaves a hump in the middle of the baseball field on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The three-Disc set contains all 24 episodes from Season Four. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 33 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors are nicely natural and the image is never overly dark or bright. The image shows nice detail, as it's never soft, and the depth is adequate for a TV show. This rivals HD broadcast quality. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a sitcom, this is a demo track, but it does deliver quality stereo effects, especially when someone off-screen is speaking, and some crowd scenes deliver noticeable surround effects.

The Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Disc contains several extras which are spread across the set. Disc 1 offers four DELETED AND ALTERNATE SCENES which run about 4 minutes. Disc 2 kicks off with a pair of AUDIO COMMENTARIES -- Executive Producer "Danny Zuker and Executive Producer Bill Wrubel provide talks on both "Party Crasher" and "Fulgencio". Sofia Vergara and Rico Rodriguez comment on how the new baby changed things for the characters and what it was like to work with the infants in "An Addition to the Family" (7 minutes). We also get one DELETED SCENE which runs about 40 seconds. Disc 3 brings more AUDIO COMMENTARIES -- "Career Day" with Steven Levitan, Brad Walsh, and Paul Corrigan and also "Goodnight, Gracie" with Steven Levitan and Jeffrey Richman. We follow Stonestreet through a day of production in "A Day with Eric" (12 minutes). "A Modern Guide to Parenting" (5 minutes) is simply a series of clips from the show which focus on child-rearing. "Modern Family Writers" (13 minutes) has the show's creative team members discussing how their real lives influence the show's stories. The Disc offers two DELETED SCENES which run about 2 minutes, as well as a 10-minute GAG REEL.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.