Modern Family Season Two [Blu-Ray]

Modern Family Season Two [Blu-Ray]
Recent Emmy juggernaut Modern Family has increased confidence in its clever, goofy and relatable strut in this second season. It functions exactly as it's named – as a contemporary take on the classic populist family sit-com formula. In this post-Office age of television, that means the illusion of viewer involvement via faux-reality show conceits. Instead of inner monologues or voiceovers, we get character interviews – breaking the fourth wall is a frequently employed punch-line substitute. Standards of social etiquette have come to accept a higher degree of sexually suggestive and politically incorrect humour, and the writers take every opportunity to whip up witty double entendres and indulge in non-malicious insensitivity. We can recognize our shortcomings, insecurities and good intentions in this trio of idiosyncratic families, but, of course, this is entertainment first and foremost, and entertain it does, thanks in large part to the talented and well-utilized cast. The Dunphys, Phil (Ty Burrell), Claire (Julie Bowen), Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter) and Luke (Nolan Gould), in particular, assert their comedic dominance, playing Claire's anal-retentive neurosis off Phil's awkward, hammy man-child, coming up with smarter social standings-based sibling rivalries between the sisters, and giving Luke more personality than his idiot-savant exterior suggests. Manny (Rico Rodriguez) has his mature-beyond-his-years sub-plots pared down a bit, leaving more space to see the competitive side of Jay (Ed O'Neil) and Gloria's (Sofia Vergara) culture-clashing, pronounced age-disparity relationship. Challenging Jay's all-American man's man persona, gay son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and husband Cameron (Eric Stonestreet), with the still nearly expressionless baby Lily in tow, help give the cultural icon plenty of opportunities to get comfortable with the more flamboyant and emotional aspects of life. Many of the episode stories could come across as preachy were it not for the diverse perspectives in the writing, snappy editing and dedicated performances. The features, while often entertaining, come up a little short. Each disc has deleted family interviews and extended scenes, including an especially good Luke moment on the first. A live table reading of the "Strangers on a Treadmill" episode is funny, demonstrating how much the line delivery is worked out instinctually by the cast. There's a bland behind-the-scenes look at Mitchell's flash mob performance and a suitably cheesy music video for Hayley's boyfriend Dylan's "Imagine Me Naked." Additional behind-the-scenes footage on each of the holiday episodes and "Waiting for Oprah" kind of blend together, but "At Home With Modern Family" is more interesting, taking a tour of each of the main house sets. In lieu of commentary tracks, there's "Chatting With Steve Levitan," in which the co-creator talks about scenarios taken directly from the personal lives of the writers and the usage of guest celebrities (Nathan Lane and Matt Dillon make notable appearances). Best of all is the plethora of Sofia Vergara line flubs in the gag reel. (Fox)