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Modern Family. Season One

It's quite surprising how a show with such a simple premise can actually be funny. As the title says, this is all about modern families; specifically, families in the 21st century.

There's three families involved here. The first one is a traditional family, the Dunphys. Phil and Claire, and their three kids Haley, Alex, and Luke. Then there's Jay Pritchett, Claire's father, remarried to a much younger Colombian Gloria, and her son Manny. Then there's the third family, gay partners Cam and Mitchell (Jay's son and Claire's brother), and their adopted Vietnamese baby Lily.

Even the technical aspects of this series all play a part in achieving the desired effect, which is realism. The lighting is so good, you won't even notice it. It seems like it's all natural lighting, but it's not. Kind of like the cinematography in The Sopranos. It's lit to look like it's not lit.

But unlike The Sopranos, the camera movement is a different story. It's all fluid, steadycam shots, made to look like it's a hand-held documentary. This again simply adds to the realism, because that is all this series is trying to achieve. It wants to show us that in this day and age, families like these actually exist, and they are actually made up of normal people just like us, and that we might even have neighbors or relatives with the same family set-up.

1. "Pilot"

Background music: "Circle of Life". Seriously.

Pictures are supposed to paint a thousand words, but this one only paints two: "Lion King". That's right. Cameron is holding up their newly-adopted daughter Lily. She's supposed to be the baby Simba, while Cameron is supposed to be Rafiki. And I kid you not when I say that "Circle of Life" is playing in the background.

2. "The Bicycle Thief"

My favorite gesture from Phil.

My favorite character in this series has got to be Phil Dunphy. Although he kind of reminds me of Christian Bale (probably the mouth, or the smile), his comic timing is wonderful. It's like he isn't even acting at all.

3. "Come Fly with Me"

"Hey, do I really look like Christian Bale?"

Lots of family bonding going on in this episode. There's Phil and Jay, flying an RC plane. There's also Gloria and Alex. And then there's Claire and Manny, who I just realized is way too smart for an eleven-year-old kid.

4. "The Incident"

Dylan: The stereotype rocker boyfriend.
With a stereotype hippie name.

We get a glimpse of DeDe, the former matriarch of the Pritchett clan. I've learned a valuable lesson after this episode, which is this: No. Exes. On. Your. Wedding. Day.

5. "Coal Digger"

All family gatherings should have some pool-throwing.

This is when the modernity of this family really sinks in. How exactly do you deal being called the nephew of someone who's the same age as you? I'm really loving Phil. Just seeing the look on his face makes me laugh out loud. Also, he really looks like Christian Bale.

6. "Run for Your Wife"

"Don't you have any smaller earphones?"

I don't think I can stand losing a race to my wife. But Phil's a loser husband already, so there's nothing new in that. They got the kids back to school, so we see less of them here, except for Manny. And I find it really amazing that car companies can open your car doors from a remote location. Go First World!

7. "En Garde"

"Of course it's not Manny Pacquiao."

A very touching episode. Yes, Manny could be a really great fencer. But it was the brother-sister conflict resolution, plus the twenty-one year-delayed figure skating routine in the parking lot that pulled at my heartstrings.

8. "Great Expectations"

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. That is Edward Norton.

Thank you, Modern Family episode 8. I didn't really like Edward Norton before. But after watching him play someone from Spandau Ballet, with his wonderful English accent, Edward Norton is okay in my book. I don't even care that Elizabeth Banks is also in this video. It's Edward Norton who steals the show.

9. "Fizbo"

Fizbo. A really creepy-looking clown.

Parties. Ziplines. Rock walls. Clowns. And hot reptile petting zoo girls. Not one of the funnier episodes. But good nonetheless.

10. "Undeck the Halls"

"Yes, there might be an Emmy for Best Costume."

The Christmas episode. How charming. Although the Colombian Christmas sounds like fun, as it's quite close to the Filipino Christmas.

11. "Up All Night"

Once again, Phil's hilarious face-mash.

Look at Phil. Doing it again. If you'll notice, that's the same thing he did in the second episode (check out the pic). That's the funniest, most hilarious thing a guy can do to his wife. Like covering her face for a few seconds will make everything all right. We also get a glimpse of Javier, Manny's biological father (played by Benjamin Bratt), but still, I really love Phil.

12. "Not in My House"

"Honey, it's not what it looks like."

That picture is not what it seems like. Jay is just fond of his dog butler, is all. And his name is Barkley. He's a he. Oh, this episode also tackles computer porn. And the winning line: "You're all the porn I need." ─Phil to his wife Claire.

13. "Fifteen Percent"

"What do you mean, 'the flowers' on fire'?"

More celebrity cameos. This episode, it's Chazz Palminteri. Who almost turned out to be gay. But you can't bring out any gayness in mobsters. That's like squeezing blood from rocks.

14. "Moon Landing"

The Moon Landing, a.k.a. The Butt Kiss.

"Moon Landing" refers to males touching butt cheeks. Eeew. Aside from that, this episode has a cameo by Minnie Driver, and a fake moustache on Phil. He really looks hilarious with facial hair.

15. "My Funky Valentine"

Almost girl-on-girl action. Almost.

What's sweeter than Valentine's Day? Claire naked under a coat, that's what.

16. "Fears"

"Are you terrorizing me just because I'm white?"

Lily says her first word. And it ain't "Daddy". Phil and Luke go on a treasure hunt─underneath their house. And Haley gets her driver's license. But just barely.

17. "Truth Be Told"

The "cougar bite" in action.

Phil doesn't come off as a ladies' man. And he actually isn't. Which is why the sight of him getting seduced by his high school ex-girlfriend is hilarious.

18. "Starry Night"

Phil Dunphy's ADHD in action.

Isn't it sweet that Manny wants to bond with his (legally big brother) Mitchell? And isn't it also sweet that Cam and Gloria are out for a ladies' night out? And isn't it also sweet that a father and his gay son share something in common, which is astronomy? And isn't it hilarious that Phil actually exhibits all the symptoms of ADHD?

19. "Game Changer"

"It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to..."

Happy birthday Phil! This is one of those rare episodes where Claire gets to be the star. She's actually given the chance to stretch her acting muscles and practice her comic timing. She did a good job, by the way. And also, if you think Manny is a great chess player, wait 'til you see Gloria play.

20. "Benched"

"Y'all ready to lose? Huzzah!"

Mitchell goes job-hunting after he quit his job in Episode 17, and he takes Cameron along to meet a potential boss. Meanwhile, the rest of the story focuses on basketball. And how adolescence begins taking its toll on the parents, who are suddenly shunned by their own kids. And also on basketball. Here's something you didn't know: Phil actually coaches basketball. They didn't win of course, but still...

21. "Travels with Scout"

Cam the drummer (complete with eyeliner).

Phil's dad makes his first real appearance (his webcam appearance in Episode 10 doesn't count). Manny reveals that after watching a horror flick, he is a normal kid after all. And the greatest discovery of the episode: Cam is one hell of a drummer. And I love how he tried to fake it by pretending he was a lousy drummer at first. Cam never ceases to surprise me.

22. "Airport 2010"

"Hey! Wait, what are you guys doing here?"

Happy birthday, Jay. And what better way to spend your birthday than with a trip to Hawaii with the entire family? I wish I had a fortune like that to spend on my family. But of course, we see none of Hawaii yet. This entire episode takes place in LAX. But they're probably saving Hawaii for the next episode.

23. "Hawaii"

Really, not what it looks like.

Okay, so we see Haley getting drunk for the first time (in a totally non-sexy way). And we also see Claire in a bathing suit (in a totally sexy way). Although it's the marriage thing at the end that makes you go "Awww". And also, hearing "Eye of the Tiger" being played on the ukulele against a Hawaiian backdrop.

24. "Family Portrait"

Family portrait attire: dirty white.

In all honesty, this doesn't feel like a season ender. I don't know why. Great celebrity cameo though from Black Mamba Kobe Bryant himself. Phil's acting was hilarious, by the way. But he's been consistent all season, so no surprise there.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Season 1. The more discerning amongst you might ask, "Where's the narrative?" Well, maybe there isn't a narrative at all. Maybe it's all just "a day in the life" of a modern family. Maybe there doesn't need to be some twisting plot that ends in a cliffhanger. Maybe this series is actually perfect the way it is.

That said, on to Season 2.

*some info from Wikipedia
pics from VLC

Modern Family (Season 1). USA. 2009-10.

Rating: Nine out of ten.


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