'Modern Family' a nuanced, funny comedy
In "Modern Family," Eric Stonestreet portrays Cameron, half of a gay couple who have adopted a baby from Vietnam.
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The family comedy gets a welcome and winning update in ABC's "Modern Family" (9 tonight, WTAE-TV), the fall's best new sitcom.
It's not a traditional sitcom with a laugh track but a single-camera comedy shot mockumentary style (think: "The Office"). And the humor is not setup-joke, setup-joke as on comedies of the past; it's more subtle and dependent on word play and situations and characters who feel real.
- When: 9 tonight on ABC.
- Starring: Julie Bowen, Ed O'Neill.
Created by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd -- the guys behind Fox's Pittsburgh-set newsroom sitcom "Back to You" -- "Modern Family" follows three distinct but connected family units:
• Claire (Julie Bowen) and Phil (Ty Burrell) have been married for 16 years and have three kids. They're a suburban, yuppie family. Phil tries way too hard to be a cool dad. He mangles online jargon (he thinks WTF stands for "Why The Face?") and attempts to prove he's hip by doing a dance from "High School Musical" in one quick cutaway scene.
Claire worries their 15-year-old daughter, Haley (Sarah Hyland), is going to make the same mistakes she did and insists Haley's bedroom door be kept open when a boy visits.
"I have seen this little show before: Lying on the bed with a tall senior," Claire says. "One minute you're just friends watching 'Falcon Crest' and the next you're lying under the air hockey table with your bra in your pocket."
• Jay (Ed O'Neill) and Gloria (Soffia Vergara) have only been married six months. It's a second marriage for both. He's much older; she's a young immigrant from Colombia with a sixth-grade son, Manny (Rico Rodriguez), who's more interested in pitching woo to a high school girl than he is in playing on his soccer team.
• Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) have been a couple for five years and return from Vietnam with an adopted baby. Fussy Mitchell is wary of how a gay couple with a baby will appear to others, leading to a funny, uncomfortable moment on an airplane. Cameron finds the best, most uproarious use for "Circle of Life" from "The Lion King."
In some ways the show reminded me of the late, great "Arrested Development." The characters are certainly more likable, but the "Modern Family" pilot is so layered and much of the funny dialogue so nuanced that after multiple viewings it was still easy to pick up something new on a third viewing.
First Published September 23, 2009 12:00 am