Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ABC Fall Pilot Review: Modern Family - Premieres September 23; Nick at Nite Moves Chris to 9PM

Modern Family

Modern Family - Wednesdays 9:00PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 9:00PM ET/PT

Today's American families come in all shapes and sizes. The cookie cutter mold of man + wife + 2.5 kids is a thing of the past, as it becomes quickly apparent in the bird's eye view of ABC's new half-hour comedy, Modern Family, which takes an honest and often hilarious look at the composition and complexity of family life in 2009.

Take for example Phil and Claire, two parents who want to have that open, healthy, honest relationship with their three kids. It's not always easy, especially when you have a teenage daughter who's growing up a little fast, a too-smart-for-her-own-good middle daughter and a rambunctious boy. On top of that, Phil wants to be the "cool dad," while Claire is just trying her best to run a tight ship, determined not to let her kids have the rebellious childhood she had.

Then there's Jay, a true guys' guy who is having a bit of mid-life crisis. Jay has found a much younger wife, Gloria, who has become the center of his world. She's a passionate and sassy divorcee who comes with an 11-year-old son, Manny. Already taking notice of girls and a hopeless romantic, Manny is as passionate as his mom and spends his time daydreaming and writing poetry. His new step-father isn't altogether comfortable with the sensitive stuff and would like to toughen Manny up. But that's only one of Jay's challenges. The biggest is that people often mistake him for Gloria's father, not her husband.

And lastly there's Mitchell and his partner of five years, Cameron. They've just taken that amazing 'next step' by adopting a child together from Vietnam. Cameron has a wonderfully big personality and maybe a flare for the dramatic, whereas Mitchell is the more serious of the two. But they balance each other out and are already doting fathers.

Life, it seems, is neither tidy, politically correct or in any way predictable. For these three families, it turns out, are not three but one... one big, blended family, with Jay the patriarch and Claire & Mitchell his grown kids. Yet it's just such surprises that make things so interesting in this window into the sometimes warm, sometimes twisted embrace of the modern family.


Cast Details:

* Ed O'Neill as Jay
* Sofia Vergara as Gloria
* Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell
* Eric Stonestreet as Cameron
* Ty Burrell as Phil
* Julie Bowen as Claire
* Sarah Hyland as Haley
* Rico Rodriguez as Manny
* Nolan Gould as Luke
* Ariel Winter as Alex

Ed O'Neill (Jay) is best known for his role as the main character, Al Bundy, on the long running sitcom, Married... with Children. Signed by the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, he was cut in training camp and worked as a social studies teacher before becoming an actor. He has appeared in a number of movies, including The Bone Collector, Little Giants, Dutch and the Wayne's World series. Besides his role on Married...with Children, O'Neill's television credits include the reincarnation of Sgt. Joe Friday on Dick Wolf's ABC remake of Dragnet, the recurring role of Baker (D-PA), a potential Vice Presidential candidate on the NBC drama The West Wing, the role of Detective Michael Mooney on David Milch's CBS series, Big Apple, and most recently that of a retired cop on HBO's John from Cincinnati. His other TV credits include a guest shot on ABC's 8 Simple Rules, which reunited him with Katey Sagal of Married...with Children.

SofĂ­a Vergara (Gloria) was already one of the hottest Hispanic TV stars and one of the most beloved personalities of the Latino world when she decided to pursue her career in the U.S., becoming one of the few Hispanic stars to find crossover success. Most recently Vergara has appeared in Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns and Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail films for Lionsgate, and recurring roles on ABC's Dirty Sexy Money and MEN IN TREES. Before that she played the sexy Colombian actress who stirred things up on Entourage, starred in Amas de Casa Desesperadas, the Latin-tailored version of Desperate Housewives, and in the comedy feature Chasing Papi. She was also a regular on ABC sitcoms Hot Properties and The Knights of Prosperity, while guest starring on ABC's My Wife & Kids and Rodney.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell) received rave reviews and was honored by The Hollywood Reporter in 2006 as one of Ten to Watch for his role on the CBS ensemble sitcom, The Class. Additional television credits include Do Not Disturb and Ugly Betty. Ferguson's film credits include Untraceable, directed by Gregory Hoblit and starring Diane Lane, and Griffin & Phoenix, with Amanda Peet and Dermot Mulroney. He will next appear opposite Matthew Broderick in Wonderful World, a 2009 Tribeca Film Festival selection that marks the feature directorial debut of Joshua Goldin.

Eric Stonestreet (Cameron) has an impressive resume of memorable characters on shows including Dharma & Greg, Malcolm in the Middle, Party of Five, Spin City, ER, The West Wing, American Dad, Providence, Close to Home, Crossing Jordan and Bones. His most notable character is from his recurring turn as Ronnie Litre, the questionable documents tech on the original CSI. Stonestreet was a series regular in the Fox pilot 13 Graves and has most recently guest starred in The Mentalist, N.C.I.S., Nip/Tuck and Pushing Daisies.

Ty Burrell (Phil) is quickly establishing himself as one of the most versatile actors of our time, taking on challenging roles and carving out a diverse career in movies, television and on stage. In film Burrell recently completed shooting Fair Game, opposite Sean Penn for Doug Liman. He is scheduled to start shooting Morning Glory, opposite Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton. He played Dr. Samson in Universal's The Incredible Hulk, with Edward Norton and Liv Tyler, and was in National Treasure 2, opposite Nicolas Cage. Burrell starred opposite Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr. in Steven Shainberg's film Fur, about the life of Diane Arbus. On television Burrell starred in the Fox sitcom, Back to You, opposite Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton. He also recently starred in the half-hour CBS sitcom Out of Practice, with Stockard Channing and Henry Winkler, and has been recurring on the FX series Damages.

Julie Bowen (Claire) spent two seasons on ABC's critically-acclaimed Boston Legal as attorney Denise Bauer. She plays the recurring role of Matthew Fox's wife on the hit ABC series Lost and, for three seasons, played Carol Vessey, the dream girl of former classmate-turned-lawyer Ed Stevens on the charming NBC series, Ed. Bowen was recently seen in a guest star arc on the darkly-comedic Showtime series Weeds as Lisa Ferris, a cheese shop owner who seduces a younger man, and she will soon be seen in Crazy on the Outside, a feature starring and directed by Tim Allen. Also on the big screen she starred as Adam Sandler's love interest in the comedy Happy Gilmore and appeared with Michael Keaton in Multiplicity. She also starred in An American Werewolf in Paris, performed with Lynn Redgrave in the independent romantic comedy Venus & Mars, and starred opposite Tim Allen in Joe Somebody. In the advertising world, Bowen has been both the face of Neutrogena and the voice of Pampers.

Sarah Hyland (Haley, oldest daughter of Phil & Claire) is a Native New Yorker, born to actors Edward James Hyland and Melissa Canaday. Trained in all areas of dance from the age of three and vocally trained since she was seven, Hyland is a true triple threat. She has been working in film, TV series, soaps and commercials since she was four years old. Hyland's first film was Howard Stern's Private Parts. At the age of eight she landed the role of Molly in ABC's Annie, and Young Audrey in The Audrey Hepburn Story. After filming Annie, she landed the role of Jess Pistone on Falcone. She's guest starred on episodes of Lipstick Jungle, Touched by an Angel, Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU.

Rico Rodriguez (Manny, Gloria's son) booked his first role in the video How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Next came the role of Chanchito in the film Epic Movie, a super fun role as the kid janitor in the soon to be released Opposite Day, and another great part -- including flying cake -- in the upcoming The No-Sit List. His Television credits include co-starring as Young Guillermo in Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Cory in the House, ER, 'Til Death, iCarly, Nip/Tuck, Surviving Suburbia and NCIS. He has also has been seen in commercials for Roundtable Pizza, Time Warner Cable, Dodge, Walmart, BlueCross, Chrysler and AT&T.

Nolan Gould (Luke, Phil & Claire's son) began his career at the tender age of three doing commercials and totally fell in love with acting. He has worked consistently since the day he first stepped on that commercial set. His most recent films include leads in the features Space Buddies and Montana. Current television credits include Eleventh Hour and the movie of the week, Sweet Nothing in My Ear.

Ariel Winter (Alex, Phil & Claire's younger daughter) had a recurring role on the final six episodes of ER as Lucy, a young girl whose mother is brought into the ER in need of a heart transplant. This year she will also appear in the thriller Duress, opposite Martin Donovan. Best known as Trixie in Warner Bros.' Speed Racer, Ariel's other recent credits include the film Opposite Day and Nic & Tristan Go Mega Dega. Ariel's past credits include guest-starring roles on the hit TV shows Criminal Minds, Crossing Jordan, Nip/Tuck and Bones. Feature credits include a lead role in the hit thriller One Missed Call, in which she plays the killer of the film. In addition, Ariel is the voice of Gretchen on Walt Disney's hit show Phineas and Ferb, voiced a supporting character in the hit animated film Horton Hears a Who and played Thumper's sister in Bambi II. She started her motion picture career at age seven in director Shane Black's hit cult film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, starring Val Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr. and Michelle Monaghan.


Pilot Plot:

#1 "Pilot" (Airs September 23)
Today's families come in all shapes and sizes, and that is very evident in Jay Pritchett's very full and very blended family. Jay and his new gorgeous and much younger wife, Gloria, are happily married and getting accustomed to their new life together. But when her pre-teen son develops a crush on a 16-year-old girl, it becomes apparent that Jay and Gloria may have some generational and cultural gaps to bridge. Jay's grown daughter, Claire, has a family of her own -- three kids and a husband, Phil, who is practically a giant kid himself. Things get a little tense when their teenage daughter, Haley, brings a boy home and Phil tries to adopt the cool, hip dad approach. Then son Luke misuses of his BB gun, which results in Phil and Claire turning it right back on to him. Jay's other grown son, Mitchell, is in a committed relationship and has just adopted a baby girl from Vietnam with his life partner, Cameron. They're going through the joys and anxieties of bringing a baby home for the first time, but Mitchell still has the daunting task of introducing their new addition to the whole family.
Guest starring are Reid Ewing as Dylan, Hayley Erin as Brenda Feldman, Lillian Adams as passenger #1, Duane Shepard Sr. as passenger #2, Heather Lee as passenger #3, Jenica Bergere as soccer mom, Matt Corboy as Josh, aka soccer dad, and Marcus Brown as security guard.
"It Takes a Village Idiot" was written by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, and directed by Jason Winer.


Analysis:

I first saw the pilot back in May and it was hilarious! I just watched the final cut a few days back and it is STILL hilarious! This is clearly the best new sitcom of the new season. It is a single camera sitcom with lots of smart lines and is laugh out loud! It is in mockumentary form like The Office. This show is basically about three families who are part of a big family...which is the reveal at the end of the episode, as the ABC promos gave away already. Even though if you know that, you'll still laugh and enjoy the episode. The first family is Jay and Gloria with Gloria's son Manny. Jay is an older man who married a much younger woman, who has a kid. The next family is the traditional family, husband and wife Phil & Claire and their three children. And finally the last family is Mitchell & Cameron, who are gay. These three families are all related. Jay is the father of Claire and Mitchell.

The pilot is very funny and so good. Basically each family have their own separate storylines in this episode until then end, which is the "reveal." Jay & Gloria are dealing with Manny's crush on an older girl. Phil & Claire are dealing with their kids, who each have a dilemma. And Mitchell & Cameron just adopted a baby, and they think Mitchell's family won't like it. There are hilarious scenes throughout this episode. I can't pick one scene in particular, since there are so many. Ty Burrell as Phil is a breakout star on this pilot. He is very good in the episode and has very funny lines and also even some physical comedy. He dances to High School Musical and also acts cool with teenage slang. And at the end of the episode I couldn't stop laughing when Gloria says, "Hi Phil" and what Phil does is brilliantly funny! You'll see! Even the children are funny. Phil & Claire's older daughter (who I think is 15) has a boy over for the first time and of course the parents, especially Claire, try to snoop in. This show is so real!

I liked everything about the pilot. I have no complaints whatsoever. I think the show will get even better now that the series is set-up and we know that these three families are all related. The Lion King song during the reveal of the adopted baby was classic and came out of nowhere, which is always a positive in comedy to be surprised rather than to expect something. No cliches here at all!


Conclusion:

Every critic out there is saying that this is the best comedy or best new show even of the fall. I agree and I'm not saying that just because they are. I saw the show back in May during ABC upfront before all the critics were raving about it and I mentioned back then that this was brilliant. The pilot will certainly be sampled as it will follow a special Dancing with the Stars: The Results on a special night and time. The question is will it continue after that? It better because the quality will be there and there will be great guest stars coming aboard such as Elizabeth Banks, Ed Norton, Shelley Long, and Krista Allen. If you like the pilot, which I'm sure everyone who watches will, stick around every week please! There are no family comedies currently on broadcast and we need a big hit in comedy that is a family comedy. This is not your average family comedy, so you'll see some new and unexpected stories. The pilot is so funny and real that it will make you look at your own family and wonder if you would do the same thing! Everything about this show is 5-star, which is very rare to find. Laugh with America on the new ABC Comedy Wednesday with Modern Family, the best new sitcom of the season! It's funny, seriously!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 5/5
Funniness: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 09/22/09

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, September 23 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Modern Family Photo Gallery

    Preview:





    Stay tuned tomorrow for our pilot review of Cougar Town, which follows Modern Family on ABC Comedy Wednesday at 9:30pm ET/PT.


  • Yesterday Nick at Nite made a very last minute schedule change. They switched George Lopez and Everybody Hates Chris' timeslots. George Lopez is now back to its old 10pm hour every night, while Everybody Hates Chris is now in the 9pm hour from Sun-Thurs. So this means Chris on Fridays and Saturdays won't be seen until 2-3am, since Nick at Nite doesn't start until 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Chris will continue to air 2-3am every night, while George Lopez airs 1-2am Mon-Fri nights. Malcolm in the Middle will air 1-2am on weekends leading into Chris. Malcolm will also lead into Chris now in the Sun-Thurs 9pm hour. I think Malcolm and Chris will be a good combo and a good fit, while George is back to its powerhouse time of 10pm.


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