Modern Family: Thank God For The Nuclear Age

May 20, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

MODERN FAMILY: Thursday 20th May, SKY1, 8pm ALERT ME

For those disappointed by the limp efforts of family sitcom Outnumbered – currently being screened on BBC1 to bafflingly positive reviews – the antidote can be found in Christopher Lloyd’s Modern Family which charts the interconnected lives of an unconventional menagerie of relatives. In the words of Frank Dunphy: “When my grandaughter’s boyfriend’s band plays an under-21 club with my daughter-in-law’s brother’s gay partner – I show up.?

Employing a similar sprawling genealogy to that of Arrested Development – minus the depth – the creators have afforded themselves a great deal of breathing space with which to introduce new characters and explore different scenarios.

In this week’s episode Phil’s dad – played by the excellent Lloyd regular Fred Willard – arrives at his son’s home with a dog as a gift to the family which is greeted with varying degrees of appreciation. Meanwhile Jay traumatises his stepson by allowing him to truant from school in order to go see a scary movie whilst Cameron briefly becomes a member of Dylan’s band, infuriating his partner Mitchell in the process.

This latest instalment of Modern Family is slightly hampered by allowing each strand of narrative to operate autonomously of one another which makes the show feel slightly baggy and, at times, overly expansive. This doesn’t entirely detract from the enjoyment of the show – which is rescued by some fine performances – but it does come across as roving somewhat aimlessly, lacking the central conceit that would tie everything together and perhaps encourage greater investment in the characters, many of whom could do with some padding out.

Shot in a mockumentary style – identical to the aesthetic of the US version of The Office which also employs two handheld cameras – the structure certainly feels familiar but where Outnumbered fails Modern Family succeeds: the scripts, for the most part, are tight and the jokes are consistent. Recently commissioned for a second series hopefully the show will refine itself into something truly a cut above the rest.