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Modern Family: The Complete Fifth Season (2013-2014)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 9/23/2014

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/27/2014

When it comes to awards for feature films, there is some consistency. Over the years, we've seen some back-to-back winners (Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Jason Robards, and Tom Hanks) and the Weinsteins had a run where they seemed to have their hands all over the Best Picture winners. But, that pales in comparison to the domination which occurs when it comes to awards for television. Modern Family has won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series five years in a row. Check the math and you'll see that the show has won the award every season that it has been on. That is quite an accomplishment. But, does it deserve the award? Let's check out Modern Family: The Complete Fifth Season.

As noted in my review for Season 4 of the series, Modern Family made a change for the better by introducing story arcs as opposed to simply focusing on individual episodes. This approach continues into Season 5. As the season opens, gay marriage is legalized, so Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) decide to get marry. Of course, this entails planning the perfect engagement and wedding -- something which will carry on through the entire season. Claire (Julie Bowen) goes to work for her father. (I never thought I'd see the day when Claire would get a job, even if it is through nepotism.) Gloria (Sophia Vergara) is dealing with raising her new baby, and decides to get a nanny, Andy (Adam Devine.) Jay (Ed O'Neill) is not happy with the idea of a male nanny. Manny (Rico Rodriguez) and Luke (Nolan Gould) deal with the stressors of entering high school. As she is not returning to college, Haley (Sarah Hyland) must decide what she wants to do with her life, while Alex (Ariel Winter) tries to come to grips with the pressure she puts on herself.

I've read comments from those who think that Modern Family has "jumped the shark", but I feel that the show is still going strong (and not just because it continues to garner awards). As noted above, the changes with the characters have helped. While the introduction of a baby is a tired cliche (Kudos to the show for leaping over much of Gloria's pregnancy. Was this because they were afraid that it may rob Gloria of her appeal?), some of the other changes are very positive. Getting Claire and Cam out of their respective houses (he becomes a substitute teacher and then a football coach) was a good move, as actually having characters who works lending a much needed air of reality to the show. As did the episode which focused on Alex's issues. While the show has yet to return to that topic (as of this writing), it definitely humanized the character and highlighted teens in a realistic light. Adding Adam Devine of Pitch Perfect and Workaholics fame may seem like stunt casting, but his character brought new life to the Pritchett household.

However, the show has remained relevant because the writing has remained strong. Modern Family is one of those shows which is able to maintain a nice balance in its humor. The show deftly combines some physical comedy (usually Cam or Phil), some broad comedy (often with a sexual theme), and some very sharp dialogue, most of which comes very quickly. This is not to imply that the show is for everyone. While the series is clearly a success, I'm sure that there are those who find its combination of very dump and very smart off-putting. While I appreciate the broad aspects of the show, it's the more subtle and clever jokes that I love and find myself quoting later. Modern Family is smart enough to look like a stand sitcom, but it's slyly winking at those who get it's more shrewd and obscure jokes.

But, is it the funniest show on TV? As I've said for the past five years, no. I certainly like the show, watch it regularly and look forward to these home video releases, but I still laugh more at Parks & Recreation, Bob's Burgers and the better episodes of Tosh.0. Having said that, Season 5 still shows that Modern Family is an unstoppable force. This was never more apparent than in the season finale, which could have been a train wreck of predictable proportions, but kept things moving along nicely, despite the butterflies.

Modern Family: The Complete Fifth Season needed more Jane Krakowski on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. After making Seasons 1-4 available on Blu-ray Disc, Season 5 is only coming out on DVD. (Sales?) The 3-Disc set contains all 24 episodes from the show's fifth season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source material. The colors look good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. However, we lose the crispness which was seen on the previous Blu-ray Disc releases, and I have to question the number of episodes crammed onto each DVD in the set. The image does not rival HD broadcast quality. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. We get some minor stereo effects here, mostly highlighting sounds coming from off-screen and some crowd and street scenes provide modest surround sound effects. Otherwise, the bulk of the audio comes from the center channel.

The Modern Family: The Complete Fifth Season contains a handful of extras (and of course has to feature something on the cast's trips on location). Disc 2 offers four DELETED AND ALTERNATE SCENES which come from various episodes and run about 2 minutes. The remainder of the extras are found on Disc 3. "Modern Family in Australia" (9 minutes) takes us on-location to see the production at work down under. We see the cast arriving in Australia and the piece then looks at the various set-pieces. "A Day with Jesse" (6 minutes) gives us the opportunity to follow Mitchell around as he shoots various scenes. Starting in makeup and costume, Ferguson walks us through his day. We go on-location yet again with "Modern Family in Vegas" (4 minutes) , highlighting the shooting in a casino. "Mitch & Cam's Wedding" (8 minutes) goes behind-the-scenes for the making of the season finale. This looks at the story and the statement the show was making. The final extra is an 8-minute GAG REEL.

Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long