Jay (O’Neill) is the patriarch of his extended family. He’s a pretty wealthy businessman who lives in relative comfort. He’s married to a Columbian woman who is much younger than he is. Gloria (Vergara) also brings her son Manny (Rodriquez) to the Pritchard home. They also have their own 5-year old named Joe (Maguire). Jay has two grown children with families of their own. Mitchell (Ferguson) is gay and living with his partner Cameron (Stonestreet). The two have adopted a Vietnamese daughter named Lily. Mitchell is an attorney who supports his family, while Cameron is the jolly stay-at-home dad. Jay’s daughter Claire (Bowen) has a more traditional family. Husband Phil (Burrell) sees himself as a cooler, hip kind of dad, which usually leads to some embarrassing situations for him and his family. They have three kids. Luke (Gould) is the only boy and more clueless than his father. He’s obviously not playing with a full deck. It’s ironic, because actor Nolan Gould is a Mensa member and somewhat of a child genius. Now that’s acting. Daughter Alex (Winter) is the smart one in the family and finds herself the most embarrassed by everyone else. Daughter Haley (Hyland) has become quite worldly.
The show contains numerous interludes where various cast members are talking to an invisible counselor. They offer some commentary from their character’s point of view on the events of the story. I thought I would find it distracting, but I ended up loving it.
This is all about a great variety of characters and acting styles. It provides a wealth of places and situations that the series can move around in. There isn’t near as much of the repetition that too many comedies find themselves trapped within. The situations are almost all new and fresh each week. The chemistry is excellent. There isn’t a weak link in the cast. Julie Bowen in particular has such incredible expressions, it’s funny just to watch her react. The show never goes for the obvious joke or works too hard to set the humor up. The writers are smart enough here to just set up the situations and let the laughs come to them. The result is that the characters never feel like they’re reaching too hard for a laugh. It all comes so naturally. This is the best new situation comedy I’ve seen in years. Check it out and see what it’s like to laugh without checking yourself and your company for appropriateness. Who says you can’t be funny for all ages? The cast and crew of Modern Family don’t believe any of that crap. Just one episode and you won’t either.
Season 9 starts with the entire extended family out on a boat on a lake to watch the eclipse. It really is the last time we appear to get everyone in the same place at the same time. We have the same trouble Jay is having. He wants to feel like a true patriarch for a family that is drifting into their own lives. This year Manny is going to an art school where he’s becoming quite the ladies’ man, even with his professors. Alex is also away for her second year in college, where she feels left out because she’s so smart. Haley begins the season working at a country club where she drives a booze cart out on the links. She eventually ends up working at a business started by a new-age crazy ex-actress, played wonderfully by Mira Sorvino. She also finally finds a guy she actually cares about, but he’s the British professor in one of Alex’s classes. Cam and Mitchell manage to burn down their kitchen…twice. Phil ends up fired from the realty firm where he was a partner and strikes out on his own. He also fulfills his dream of owning a magic shop. There’s a celebrity episode where each of the family groups has celebrity encounters. Jay ends up on jury duty with Terry Bradshaw. That one is particularly funny, because Terry also met Al Bundy. Phil tries to sell a house to Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Billy Crystal annoys Manny and Gloria at a diner. Also, it appears that Tony Danza is making quite a comeback. No, he doesn’t appear here, but this is the third series I’ve reviewed in the last couple of months where characters had a discussion about whether Tony was actually the boss, a reference to his own sitcom from years ago.
The show has had a tradition of very special Halloween episodes, but they have been getting more disappointing of late. It’s hard to top those first years. This one was pretty lame. It’s actually the Valentine show this year that was the fun special. You get all 22 episodes on three discs with only a gag reel for extras. It appears that Fox hasn’t been putting as much effort into these releases as they once did. I remember when they were available on Blu-ray. Now they’re going bare-bones. I can’t really explain why. But the show hasn’t lost its touch and is returning for a 10th season. “That I can explain.”