I’ve always been an avid TV fan. I have lots of friends who swear to me that they don’t watch TV, and I’m sure that’s true – at least for the most part. But I’m not ashamed to admit that I love TV. Since I’m not taking any classes this semester, I have lots of TV-watching time, and with a DVR I can watch what I want, when I want – unless there are 3 good shows happening simultaneously. Damn you, 2-channel DVR!!!! 🙂
So I thought I would jot down some comments about the news shows I’ve been watching. See if you agree or disagree.
Modern Family: When I saw the previews for this show, I was not interested in it at all. It appeared to be just another lame family sitcom. But my daughter Erin wanted to watch it, so we recorded the first episode just to try it out. I was so glad we did! This comedy takes a fresh new approach to the family sitcom genre. Actually, the approach is not all that new – it’s the same format as The Office and Parks and Recreation – in other words, the pseudo-documentary format where cameras seem to be following people around, catching their off-guard moments as well as their comments addressed directly to the supposed filmmakers. There’s no laugh track and the comedy relies more upon quirky character development than on traditional jokes. The main characters are definitely a quirky bunch. The patriarch of the family is Jay, a cranky older guy who somehow managed to marry a Colombian hot tamale named Gloria, who has a pre-teen son named Manny. Jay has two children from his first marriage, Mitchell and Claire. Mitchell is in a committed gay relationship with Cameron, and they have just adopted a little girl from China named Lily. Claire is married to a goofball named Phil, and they have three children – high-school hottie Haley, middle-school smart-girl/nerd Alex, and pre-teen mischief-maker Luke. Jay doesn’t approve of Mitchell’s gay relationship, and he doesn’t like Claire’s goofy husband Phil. But there’s much more to the story than simple parental disapproval. All the characters struggle to cope with the stresses of modern life – living up to the expectations of others while trying to be true to themselves. There’s obviously a lot of “history” here between them all, and we get little glimpses of it each week. There are funny sight gags: Jay “accidentally” bloodies Phil’s nose with his remote-controlled airplane; Cameron introduces the new baby by emulating the opening scene from The Lion King; Jay’s first wife (played by Shelly Long) gets plastered and has to be carried out, kicking and swearing, at her ex-husband’s wedding reception (they all refer to this as “the incident”). But there are moments of subtle humor as well, especially when the characters unconsciously reveal their own foibles and weaknesses while explaining themselves to the ever-present but unseen camera crew.
Perhaps the most telling measure of this show’s comedic power is this: in every episode there has been at least one time where we had to stop and rewind because we were laughing so hard we couldn’t hear what was happening next. We’ve had to pause and wait while we continued to laugh hysterically at some of the things that were said or done on the show, and then we rewound so that we could see them again. The only other show that elicits that kind of a response from me is The Office. ‘Nuff said.
More TV reviews coming soon!