Modern Family (ABC)
Premiered September 23 at 9pm
This is the one comedy everyone should be able to agree on as the breakout hit of the season. The wacky adventures of three very different family units make for one hilarious pilot, where characters pause to reflect on their habits and values in direct interviews. Each of the three families is just as appealing and ripe for plotline picking. Age-range couple Jay and Gloria are the tamest of all three, though Jay (Ed O’Neill) is clearly a bigot and the Spanish-prone Gloria doesn’t seem to have much of a filter. Gay partners Mitchell and Cameron are fabulously loud and proud, and each constantly tries to outdo the other in outrageousness, and it’s a device that marvelously works. The Delgado family of five includes the widest range of personalities, and the standout is hapless father Phil (played magnificently by Ty Burrell) who, among other missteps, shoots his son and his daughter’s boyfriend with a BB gun. It’s a show that’s hilariously uninhibited, and it goes for big only to tone down appropriately with understated interview segments. The pilot is full of laughs, and the three separate families work excellently to balance each other out. When one story seems to go on too long or too far, the show quickly cuts to another preposterous plotline. It’s a relief to see ABC finally get a comedy right after such a long spell with nothing but “According to Jim.” Long live this show, and hopefully episode two will live up to this fantastic start.
How will it work as a series? The wealth of funny characters means that this show can tread on different ground each episode, and it’s likely that there will be material for many installments to come. The one possible negative is that the show may have some lackluster episodes, but something tells me that the spectacular cast and sharp writing should help the good outweigh the bad.
How long will it last? Great advance hype for this show should help it take the reigns as the most-watched of ABC’s new comedies, and the network will likely want to help its well-reviewed laugher go far. “Samantha Who?” didn’t last more than two seasons, but this may well be the turning point for ABC in terms of comedy, with this show at the head of the pack. In 2004, ABC debuted four new dramas and bounced back from a lull; now I think it’s time for ABC’s second comedy coming.
Pilot grade: A-