Another year older...
The Story So Far...
It may too earlier to call Joe, the toddler son of Jay (Ed O'Neill) and Gloria (Sofia Vergara), Modern Family's Cousin Oliver, but his arrival as the cute new kid, just as the show's core kids are in their teens, seems to fit the mold. That he does little more than throw out adorable line readings makes it that much more a comparison. While he did allow for some character development for the older Jay, his retirement this season offered similar possibilities, in a much more organic way.
Jay's retirement also allowed the show to take Claire (Julie Bowen) in a new direction, as she takes over for Jay at his company. The new challenge created a few fun storylines, including Phil (Ty Burrell) feeling neglected and Claire trying to have it all, balancing work and family. Bowen tends to be at her comic best when her character tries to cope with stress, and she's got plenty of it here. Burrell gets a solid plotline of his own as he copes with his children growing up, in a trademark Phil way, involving overcompensation and ducks.
Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) don't have any major story arc this season, as there are no major milestones for them. Instead, there are smaller plots involving them being blackballed from weddings and trying to throw a perfect birthday party for their daughter Lily, while renting out their upstairs apartment brings an assortment of strange characters into their lives, including a Christian rock band, a bizarre and suspicious trio (featuring Steve Agee) and some Canadians. As with many couples with a young child (that they care about), their lives revolve around their kid, so this makes a great deal of sense.
Meanwhile, the kids, who really aren't kids anymore, are all having their own adventures, which usually wind up involving the rest of the family, whether it's Luke (Nolan Gould) and Manny (Rico Rodriguez) and their quest to meet girls, Alex (Ariel Winter) and her travails at college or Haley (Sarah Hyland) and her journey toward adulthood. It's the last one that ends up being the most entertaining, largely due to the involvement of her would-be flame Andy (Adam DeVine). DeVine, playing a naive good-guy is a great foil for Hyland's Haley, and their courtship is rather satisfying, with some good twists along the way.
No particular episode stands out this season, but there are enjoyable moments throughout, and some great guest stars, like Keegan Michael Key and Catherine O'Hara. Though anything with Joe threatened to be saccharine, for the most part, this was a solid, steady and entertaining season.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks come alive mainly during the show's active theme song, leaving the center channel to handle the brunt of the work during episodes, with dialogue mostly heard front and center. The surrounds get some work with atmospheric sounds (particularly during more public scenes), but otherwise, voices are the key element.
" Storming the Set: The Making of an Episode" (5:22) features producer/writer Danny Zuker, as he walks you through the preproduction of the show, including a look at the series' offices, the writing process and the inspiration for the storylines. Zuker is an entertaining guy (as any of his Twitter followers can attest to) and he enhances this behind-the-scenes tour.
There are 13 deleted/extended scenes to check out, running 6:32 in all. Most of them are minor changes, but a few scenes with Haley are worth checking out.
"Growing Up Modern Family" (5:14) looks at how the kids have changed over seven years of doing the show, focusing on Winter, Gould and Rodriguez. Using clips from early in the series, it really shows how they have changed and talks about how they relate to their characters and their connection with the actors playing their parents.
"Kids in the Spotlight" is tangentially related to the series, focusing on Rodriguez' support for an organization encouraging foster kids to get into movie making. Burrell and Gould appear as well, as they take part in an award ceremony for the kids.
The last extra is a 7:11 gag reel, which hits all the usual standards, like dancing, screw-ups, and general goofiness. There's nothing wrong with it, but it feels a little light on laughs.
The Bottom Line