As ABC’s Modern Family kicks off its fifth season on the air, those who may have fallen behind last year can catch up with Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season, available now on Blu-ray and DVD. Season four is a time of change for the family, and you won’t want to miss this important part of their lives, played out in 24 episodes.
As this season begins, Jay (Ed O’Neill) is turning 65, a milestone for the old man. What he doesn’t know yet is, he’s about to become a dad again. His wife, Gloria (Sofia Vergara), isn’t sure how to break the news, further complicated by that fact that Jay’s son, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), and his partner Cam (Eric Stonestreet), just lost the chance to adopt a baby themselves, something they really wanted.
Don’t let the drama of the situation get you down; it sure doesn’t hurt the tone. Modern Family is a comedy, pure and simple, and even the most uncomfortable situations are played for laughs. More effective than most sitcoms at landing those gags, the talented and most-Emmy-nominated cast can take any scenario and turn it into a series of amusing bits. There is definitely character development, and sweet moments between relations, too, mixing heart and humor in a (literally) winning combination, finely polished after several years on the air.
Among the happenstances of The Complete Fourth Season, Mitchell tries to convince Cam to get a job, Claire (Julie Bowen) makes efforts to tone down her haunted house to be kid-friendly, Luke (Nolan Gould) decides to quite magic, much to the disappointment of his father, Phil (Ty Burrell), Hayley (Sarah Hyland) is arrested at college for underage drinking, the family suspects that Alex’s (Ariel Winter) new boyfriend is gay, Gloria’s hidden secrets are revealed, Claire and Cam attempt to flip a house, Jay’s New Year’s plans are ruined, Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) proves challenging to parent, Manny (Rico Rodriguez) gets a surprise party, Cam directs a production of Phantom of the Opera, Dylan (Reid Ewing) moves into the Dunphy household, Jay offers Claire a job, and Phil buys an RV. And those are just some of the plots.
As you may have surmised, Modern Family works best when the family is together, and that is the bread and butter of the show. Sometimes others drift in and out, and they’re great, but there are few episodes better than when a group of main characters get together. In particular, anytime Claire, Phil, Mitchell, and Cam hang out is priceless.
There are also fantastic guest stars this year. Shelley Long returns as Mitchell and Claire’s mother, Dede, and Nathan Lane is back as Cam and Mitchell’s friend, Pepper. Matthew Broderick plays a man who thinks Phil is gay and hitting on him. Benjamin Bratt makes another appearance as Gloria’s ex, Javier, this time with Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds) in tow as his fiance. Mitchell’s ex-boyfriend Teddy (Larry Sullivan, Will & Grace) remains beloved by the clan. Potential spin-off subject Gil Thorpe (Rob Riggle) gets involved in the house flipping arc. We see Phil’s dad (Fred Willard) when the family flies down to Florida for Phil’s mother’s funeral. And look out for Star Wars‘ Billy Dee Williams!
There are quite a few extras in this three-disc set. As one would expect, there are plenty of deleted and alternate scenes, as well as a gag reel. The season finale gets the Director’s Cut treatment, extending the running time slightly. There are commentaries with the writers of the show for select episodes. Plus, a number of featurettes, including one on said writers, a focus on the family’s newest addition, “A Day with Eric,” a fun little bit featuring Stonestreet, and more are within.
Why buy the Blu-ray versus the DVD? I’m going to be honest, there aren’t a lot of special features or obvious advantages. However, if you’re like me, you want the best picture and sound possible. With Blu-ray, the details are crisp and the sound is pretty much perfect, though it’s front-heavy, as the show intended, with variations in tone and color, as rare as they may be, readily apparent. It looks great in HD, so why not? Plus, you get “Season Mode,” which keeps track of what you’ve watched previously.
Modern Family – The Complete Fourth Season is available now.