Tag Archives: ABC

The Year End Review: TV

It’s that time of year again. And I mean, it’s really that time of year. Any more time and it’d be next year. Speaking of which, how many of you are absolutely sick of the fact that I can’t get my s**t together and update this thing more regularly? Well, too bad! I’m pretty set in my ways, and if I wouldn’t change for any of my three wives, I probably won’t change for you. Anyway, it was a pretty good year for TV, and for those of you who care, these are my top 10 picks. If I had more time on my hands, this list might look somewhat different**, but I can’t watch everything. So, in no particular order…

Lost. I’d be remiss (what does that mean?) if I didn’t mention one of the greatest TV shows in the history of TV (and shows). ‘Lost’ earns its place on the list more in recognition of the entire series than the sixth season, which most people will admit had its problems. But for all of the questions that were left unanswered and weird, glowy caves that had holes in the middle that needed to be plugged up or else the world would explode — I mean, seriously, what was that? — the show delivered a finale that was as emotionally satisfying as I could have hoped for. And before the numbers, polar bears and four-toed statues, it was the characters that made the show what it was. And that damn dog gets me every time.

Treme. For a little while, ‘Treme’ felt like the kid who was a little too cool for school. It didn’t really invite us into its world, but kept us at arm’s length, telling us that we just didn’t get it. But slowly, as if in the arms of a generous lover, it opened up to us. And once the characters started doing a little more than hang out, drink and play music it turned into appointment television. And the fact that it comes from David Simon and could probably go on for six or seven seasons without building toward any clear ending makes it one of the best character studies in recent memory.

Louie. Hands down, the best comedy of the year. FX told Louie CK that, even though they couldn’t pay him as much as other networks, they would give him complete creative control over his own show, and the opportunity was not wasted. I hate to sound trite (no I don’t), but he’s really reinvented the sitcom, with each episode taking the form of a mostly-self-contained short film. And not only is it hilarious, but introspective and thoughtful. Not to mention gorgeously shot. If you haven’t caught this one yet, you can stream it on Netflix. I really can’t recommend it enough.

Archer. ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ are all good and well, but man cannot live on live-action drama alone. Solid animated fare is important, and unfortunately ‘American Dad’ can’t carry the load all by itself. ‘Archer’ comes from the fine folks who brought us ‘Frisky Dingo,’ which for two short years carried the mantle ‘Arrested Development’ left behind after it was canceled. The show takes the world’s most self-absorbed incompetent, gives him a double-0 rating and sets him loose on the world. Hilarity ensues. And when I say hilarity ensues, I mean it. Did you read what I said about ‘Frisky Dingo’? The show comes back for another season in January, so check it out.

Breaking Bad. Suck it, ‘Supernatural’ fans. In its third season, ‘Breaking Bad’ made the jump from engrossing (and high-grossing!), to the best show on TV. And the season before was already pretty great. Watching the lengths Walter White is willing to go to, at first to provide for his family, but then to satisfy his own ego is completely devastating. Walter shooting that drug dealer in the head at the end of “Half Measures” had me screaming at my TV, and if the season finale is any indication (it is), things are only going to get darker going forward. Unfortunately, AMC’s schedule is all jacked up, so the show won’t be back until July. The curse of cable television!

Mad Men. This is another show that doesn’t really have any sort of clear end in sight. And because it’s AMC’s darling, they’re probably going to try and keep it around for as long as they can. The trick then becomes how to keep it feeling fresh and not like it’s spinning its wheels. Season 4 did that. Don has his own agency, and now that he’s divorced he’s back out on the prowl. Although I guess that was the case even when he was married. Anyway, the season featured some of the series’ best work. “The Suitcase” and the showdown between Don and Peggy being only one example. Expect that one to be showered with Emmys at next year’s ceremony. For my money, the show came in just a hair behind ‘Breaking Bad’ this year, but…it was a very fine hair.

Fringe. I don’t think anyone really gives a s**t if a show comes “from the mind of J.J. Abrams” anymore. And if you ask me that’s only worked in ‘Fringe’s’ favor. When it wasn’t the hit some expected it to be, it kind of dropped off the radar. That really gave it carte blanche to go balls to wall and make a show for the people who were watching it, the people who were carrying it into second and third season renewals. This season’s proved that like no other, and really shows what risks the showrunners were willing to take with things. Thankfully they all paid off. I’m feeling a little better about the show’s move to Friday now than I was when I first heard about it, so hopefully its audience will move with it and it’ll be back for a fourth season.

Boardwalk Empire. AMC winning all those Emmys must have really pissed HBO off, because they’re coming back in a big way. It took ‘Boardwalk Empire’ about four episodes to find its footing, but after that it was strong all the way to the finish. It’s always good to see such a big show get things right, and that was before we saw exactly how big a freak Agent Van Alden was, and met Richard Harrow (who’s thankfully been promoted to a series regular in season two). What the show lacks in ‘Sopranos’ it makes up for in ‘Deadwood,’ which sucks me in every single time. Can we lay down some cash that season two will open with a montage of all the characters getting dressed in the morning?

30 Rock. Oh ’30 Rock,’ it’s so good to have you back. After a lackluster fourth season, the show’s really amped things up this year, delivering several episodes that are as good as anything they’ve done in the past. I mean, you’ve got Matt Damon! Paul Giamatti! Liz’s Julia Roberts laugh! John Effing Slattery! I cower before the brilliance of his performance. Now, if the show could just find more excuses to bring Jon Hamm back, all would be right with the world. Really, this is the show propping up NBC’s Thursday night lineup. ‘The Office’ has turned into the grandpa with Parkinson’s disease. Every once in a while it remembers how good it was, but it mostly thinks we’re its wife and yells at us for not having supper on the table when it gets home from work. ‘Outsourced’ is garbage and ‘Community’ is too busy smelling its own private parts to do much else. When the lineup grows by a hour come January, it’s gonna be ’30 Rock’ and ‘Parks and Rec,’ so get ready for it.

Justified. FX is really trying to roll with the big dogs as of late, at thanks to shows like ‘Justified,’ it’s paying off. The show had a mix of procedural and serialized storytelling, and I think that as the season progressed, it realized how much stronger those serialized elements were, and so followed them more as the season closed out. Timothy Olyphant is a great actor, and fans of ‘Deadwood’ know that this role was almost tailor-made for him. The back and forth between him and Walt Goggins is great, but honestly, I’d watch a show of Olyphant just ramming Dewey Crow’s face into steering wheels.

And there you have it. A pretty good year, all things considered. And next year we’ve got ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Luck,’ ‘Lights Out,’ ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ and more ‘Parks and Rec’ to look forward to, so it’s going to be pretty crowded. So until then and as a always, excelsior true believers!

**’Community’ still wouldn’t be on it, because it still isn’t that good.

Modern Family, “Strangers on a Treadmill”: Your balls are showing.

There was a lot going on in last night’s ‘Modern Family,’ and the show really handled it admirably. The Mitchell/Cam and Claire/Phil storylines were both competing for first place, and looking back it’s a little hard deciding which one came out on top of the other.

If you were looking for laughs, as I imagine most of you were, then Claire and Phil were definitely the night’s winners. Phil’s been asked to host the Southern California Annual Realtors Banquet, and sees the entire thing as an opportunity to impress the crowd with his special brand of standup. Claire, who realizes what a disaster this could turn into, steals Phil’s note cards he’s written his material on, and leaves him to improv his way through the evening. It’s always nice to see Phil win one, but I wonder how realistic this turned out to be. It’s a little unbelievable that when he’s not trying, he turns out to be quick on his feet and actually pretty funny. Or maybe it’s too believable (?). Another question: How did he know that it was Claire who took his cards? Well, it all worked out in the end, which is more than I can say for my disastrous standup routine I  debuted at a local 9/11 memorial rally last month. How long did it take for AIDS to be funny again, because I obviously jumped the gun on this one.

If you bypass the laughs and go straight to the sweet stuff, Cameron and Mitchell came out on top. And in a lot of ways, their character beats were sweeter last night than they were in “The Kiss” a few weeks back. I was glad to see they balanced the emotion with some laughs, though. Cameron running into the bedroom and crying (because that’s what gay men do), and tipping over the bowl of fruit when Mitchell gives him a look for eating an apple. I especially like the way the whole episode got started, with Mitchell and Claire complaining about their significant others whilst jogging troga-ing. I really like the chemistry between Julie Bowen and Jesse Tyler Ferguson and the show’s done a great job of portraying their relationship.

I thought Jay and Gloria at the quinceanera was entertaining enough, if not terribly interesting. I thought the night’s funniest joke was Jay asking Manny, “Where do you keep popping out of?” I think the show could stand to be a little edgier with how it approaches race. Gloria’s had a ton of great lines about life in Colombia, but it’s beginning to feel a little repetitive. And a lot of stuff at the party really felt like the show was just trying to play it safe. I think they could go a little further without being distasteful.

There are certain things the show does really well, and my biggest fear is that it’ll get complacent in light of its Emmy wins and all the good press it gets. I would hope to see the show grow a bit throughout the season.

Modern Family, “Earthquake”: You’re not a joke. You’re Pepper Saltzman!

I’ve been thinking about ‘Modern Family’ a bit lately. It’s a show that always makes me laugh, but not in the same way as shows like ’30 Rock’ or ‘Louie.’ It’s a solid comedy, and definitely one of the best currently on TV. And by that I don’t mean to be damning with faint praise. It’s one of the best regardless of the fact that this season’s most promising new comedy is NBC’s (shudder) ‘Outsourced.’

The fact that ‘Modern Family’ centers around a family (I checked) means that it’s particular brand of comedy can only get so edgy. And that’s okay. It’s a broad spectrum and I think there should be shows to fill every level of it. But it also means that ‘Modern Family’ will never be hilarious in the way that ’30 Rock’ is (at the top of its game), or ‘Louie’ (when its not even trying). Of course, lighthearted family fare may be right up your alley, so keep in mind that your mileage may vary before you delete me from your Google Reader.

All that being said, last night’s episode got funnier after a second viewing, with most of the laughs being provided by Cameron and Mitchell’s flamboyant gay neighbor, Pepper Saltzman (a name made out of pure win). I was kind of surprised at how good his bit was, although that may be more in part to Nathan Lane’s ability to make gay people funny than the show’s ability to effectively use its guest stars.

I thought the Jay/Manny storyline struggled the most, and I’m a little worried that Ed O’Neill may become a crutch for the show. A lot of Manny/Jay/Gloria storylines are built around Jay’s hardheadedness and unwillingness to change himself for his wife. That’s okay because it’s true to the character, but it can be a little overdone at times, and doesn’t have the same comedic value as Manny acting 30 years older (his cigar on the golf course was great).

I liked the Phil storyline, although I didn’t feel like it broke out it any huge way. I thought the scenes between Haley and Claire were much more interesting, especially when Haley figured she could sneak out of the house to her friend’s party after Claire got trapped in the bathroom. Have you and your parents ever had that argument where that switch just flipped and you found yourselves screaming at each other…but in a really funny way? I was raised in a foster home.

A pretty good episode all around. And here’s to the speedy return of Pepper Saltzman.

Modern Family, “The Kiss”: Who’s the better kisser, me or your dad?

I don’t know exactly how much of a groundswell of support there was for ‘Modern Family’ to portray Cameron and Mitch as an actual gay couple, rather than two guys with good fashion sense who happened to be raising a kid together, but I feel like “The Kiss” was a response to whatever criticism was out there. There was a bunch of stuff tonight that all tied back to kissing, everyone gets together for a big family dinner, the focus is on Cam and Mitch, and then, AND THEN…the camera pans away as the two share a small peck in bad lighting. Ugh. Or, equality!

I’m not saying that I want to catch the two of them dressed up in their gimp-garb (that phrase is considered intellectual property, so hands off) exchanging safe-words, but I’ve always thought that they seemed like a very genuine couple. It was the show’s hands-off policy with the two of them that always kept them from feeling like fully realized characters. They were almost there, but not quite. So I guess I have to give the show, and ultimately the network — because I’m positive that this a problem brought on by ABC and not the showrunners — SOME credit. But the quick pan away really felt like the show fumbled the ball, in the endgame.. .on the sidelines, if you’ll allow me to make a sports metaphor.

I guess we could go into the reasons for a decision like this, but it feels like we’d only be treading over the same old ground. There’s obviously a big reluctance out there in TV land to do anything that won’t appeal to every demographic, as evidenced by this year’s incredibly bland and sometimes cringe-worthy pilot season. But what can you do? Watch AMC and HBO, I guess. Have you caught ‘Rubicon’ yet? Pretty good!

The rest of the show had a lot of good beats, so I’m a little hesitant to dock the whole thing too many points. Like I said, I feel this is more of a problem with the network than anything else. So, what about the episode stood out? Phil’s jokes about why the tupperware containers would get separated from their lids. One thing I don’t think will ever get old is Gloria talking about Colombians living up to Colombian stereotypes, which is to say that if you ever cross one, they’ll kill you and use your body as some sort of coke mule. Funny stuff, right? There was also some good stuff in the Alex/Haley story, but not necessarily in the resolution with Alex’s crush and the (not so) surprise discovery that Claire was a real wild child. I’m thinking more of the back and forth between Alex and Haley, specifically Haley’s line about Alex and her lesbian sandals. It only recently occurred to me that, because ‘Modern Family’ will probably stick around for a while, we’re going to be there to watch these kids grow up, at least a little bit, just like we saw with Walt on ‘Lost.’ I’m seeing that with Alex already. Maybe it’s just the age, but her character seems a lot more introverted this season, much more than she was in season one. What does it all mean?

My final post-mortem: It felt like the episode was split into two pieces, and because that second half was so clearly building up to the Cam/Mitch smooch, it came off as really anti-climactic. Some good beats in there, but not enough to overcome the overall “meh-ness” of the episode.

Modern Family, “The Old Wagon”: Old clunker.

Well, you’ve had quite the run of things, ‘Modern Family.’ Critically lauded, an impressive night at the Emmy’s, and looking around the internet, one of the only comedies no one really seems to be worried about this season. So, my question is: When’s the other shoe going to drop? How long will it be until the show runs out of the steam, the jokes becomes tedious and repetitive, and disappointed, we all turn to ‘Running Wilde’ on FOX?

After tonight’s premiere, I’m guessing that particular nightmare is still a ways off, as it looks like the show hasn’t skipped a beat during its hiatus. The titular (if you will) Old Wagon has been sitting in the Dunphy’s garage for years, and Claire’s finally come to the conclusion that they need to sell it. As a salesman, this sort of thing is Phil’s bread and butter, and it was really funny seeing how little faith Claire had that he could actually do it. While there are obviously many, many laughs to be had over how bumbling Phil can be, I think it’s just as funny to see him with his ire up.

So Claire realizes what an important part of her life the car represents and that getting rid of it is going to be a little harder than she thought, so Phil plans a picnic with family, in the old car, of course. Luke having to throw up and Haley getting scared by the spider didn’t really have me rolling on the floor, but I thought the set up and execution were pretty spot on, and showed us just how well these actors work in a  group. Phil jumping on the hood of the car was a lot funnier, for my money, anyway. As was the car sliding over the side of the mountain and Phil deciding that they were going to have to lower their asking price. Good stuff all, but Phil’s real funnybone moment came during his “what you don’t say is more important than what you do” speech at the end. Phil is kind of like Michael Scott in that he lack’s self-awareness, but is consistent with it. And also he’s funny.

With Cameron and Jay teaming up to keep Mitch away from anything with points tonight, I think the show may have found one of its highest yielding relationships (in laugh dollars, I mean). And I’m not sure if I can put my finger on exactly what it is that makes it work. Normally I’d say that it’s just funny putting the gay guy together with the guy who’s uncomfortable around gays, but I’m really trying to think of something smarter. But maybe that’s just it. Or maybe we’ll have to wait for the episode where Cameron dresses Jay up in drag and they both enter a dance competition. If I’m still laughing then, then I’ll know I was right. While he was being made fun of, Mitch had some nice beats, too. Tripping over the rock and the call-back to last season’s finale with the bird flying into the castle.

The Gloria and Manny storyline gave us all the laughs we’d expect from it, but there was something about it that felt a little stale to me. We’ve seen Manny worrying over girls before, and I think it’d be interesting to see him dealing a girlfriend, rather than trying to win one over. If you break it down, Manny may be a character without a tremendous amount of depth, but Rico Rodriguez plays him almost to perfection. I think there’s a tendency among the writers to believe that’s he going to be funny almost no matter what he does, so some of the same beats are being hit over and over again. It’s early days yet, so we’ll see if this really turns into a problem.

“The Old Wagon” didn’t get very crazy with the family combination’s. With the exception of Jay, everyone stayed in their respective corners. And maybe for a season premiere, you’d expect a little more interaction, but it still all felt right. Chalk it all up to a cast with genuine chemistry and a writing staff putting together a show that can live up to its hype. And without it, how would we get the taste of ‘The Middle’ out of our mouths? I’ve missed you, ‘Modern Family.’

Random thoughts:

  • When will Sofia Vergara’s breasts get their own guest credit? Seriously, there was a moment tonight when she was stirring her chocolate milk and my wife and I just burst out laughing.
  • Judging from tonight and last season’s “Starry Night,” I’m convinced the show’s writers have yet to completely plumb the comedy depths of the Dunphy’s garage.
  • Phil thinking that maybe, just maybe he could figure out a way to make a wormhole collapse in on itself was comedy gold, worth their weight in laugh dollars.
  • Did Rico Rodriguez put on a couple of pounds this summer? Pleasantly Plump Manny, I love it. Type 1 Diabetes Manny makes me sad.
  • “That was my Vietnam. And I was in Vietnam.”

Emmy Love

The Emmy nominations are in, and oddly enough, NO ONE seems to be talking about them. So I thought I’d give my thoughts to the only categories anyone really cares about.

Outstanding Drama
“Breaking Bad”
“Dexter”
“The Good Wife”
“Lost”
“Mad Men”
“True Blood”

I don’t watch The Good Wife, so there’s not much I can say about it. I’ve heard some good things, and from what I understand, the fact that the show and Julianna Margulies were nominated isn’t too big a surprise. Breaking Bad and Mad Men earning nominations also lands firmly in the “no big surprise” category, as both shows put out some of their best work this past season. Dexter seems to be a show we should expect to see in this category, although — with the exception of John Lythgoe’s performance in the show’s fourth season — Dexter seems to be a series offering diminishing returns with each season. With the [spoiler alert!] death of Rita at the end of last season, the show has a chance to seriously shake itself up. We’ll see whether or not they’re able to pull it off. Lost has been nominated in this category a couple of times before, but I have a feeling this time around its inclusion has more to do with the show going away FOREVER. Don’t get me wrong, I was satisfied with the way the show wrapped things up in its final season, but taken as a whole, season 6 wasn’t nearly as strong as seasons past. Rounding out this group is True Blood, which I’ve only seen a few episodes of. The fact that it was able to make its way into the drama category is a little amazing to me, given Anna Paquin’s horrible southern accent.

Outstanding Comedy
“30 Rock”
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
“Glee”
“Modern Family”
“Nurse Jackie”
“The Office”

30 Rock and The Office are a couple of moldy oldies when it comes to Emmy noms, but I don’t think neither one of them is going to take the award away this year. 30 Rock suffered a pretty big dip in quality when stacked against past seasons, and The Office was just horrible. I don’t care if Jim and Pam finally got married and had a kid. The show sucked. Seriously, I don’t understand how The Office was nominated and Parks and Recreation got passed over. I have yet to be disappointed by Curb Your Enthusiasm, and look forward to the show’s eighth season with great relish, but I don’t really think it has any chance of winning. That honor will probably go to Modern Family, which had an incredible first season. Now, I say that Modern Family will win, but of course the country’s strange fascination with Glee will come around to bite it in the ass. With 19 nominations, I’m worried. And you should be, too.

Outstanding Actor in a Drama
Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”)
Hugh Laurie (“House M.D.”)
Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”)
Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights”)
Matthew Fox (“Lost”)
Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”)

Nice to see Matthew Fox, but again, I think his best work on the show came in previous seasons. I count Michael C. Hall and Jon Hamm out. They’re both great actors, BUT Bryan Cranston’s also been nominated, and has won in this category two years running now. And as much as I love Mad Men, Breaking Bad is just doing more for me right now. That aside, what I’m really happy about in this category is Kyle Chandler’s nomination. It’s a long shot, but his work on Friday Night Lights these past four years has been phenomenal and it’s a shame that it’s taken so long for him to be recognized here.

Outstanding Actress in a Drama
Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights”)
Glenn Close (“Damages”)
January Jones (“Mad Men”)
Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”)
Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”)
Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”)

Again, Friday Night Lights. I could easily see Connie Britton winning this category, but that may be my utter lack of interest in L&O, Damages and The Closer speaking. Realistically speaking, Julianna Margulies has a real chance here.

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy
Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”)
Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”)
Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”)
Matthew Morrison (“Glee”)
Steve Carell (“The Office”)
Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”)

I don’t see how Alec Baldwin doesn’t get this one. Although seeing as how Monk is going away, Tony Shalhoub’s also got a shot. I’d love to see a Larry David win, but it probably isn’t in the cards. Again, for shame Steve Carell, for shame.

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy
Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”)
Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“The New Adventures of Old Christine”)
Lea Michele (“Glee”)
Tina Fey (“30 Rock”)
Toni Collette (“The United States of Tara”)

I’m glad to see Parks and Recreation wasn’t completely passed over. Although I’m not sure Amy Poehler can defeat Tina Fey’s star power. From what I understand, Edie Falco is the least comedic thing about Nurse Jackie, so I wouldn’t put much stock in her this year. From the rest of the pack, Lea Michele is the only one I can see winning, in one of those bonehead stunts the Academy likes to pull, like when James Spader beat out James Gandolfini a few years back. No, James Spader. You are not a better actor than James Gandolfini.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”)
Andre Braugher (“Men of a Certain Age”)
John Slattery (“Mad Men”)
Martin Short (“Damages”)
Michael Emerson (“Lost”)
Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”)

Just a few thoughts on these supporting categories. I love John Slattery, Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson, but none of them did what Aaron Paul did this past year on Breaking Bad. If he doesn’t walk away with the award this year, it’ll be a travesty. Congrats to Andre Braugher for sneaking in under the radar here.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Archie Panjabi (“The Good Wife”)
Christine Baranski (“The Good Wife”)
Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”)
Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”)
Rose Byrne (“Damages”)
Sharon Gless (“Burn Notice”)

I used to date Christina Hendricks, so I’m partial to her in this category, and thought she showed more range than Elizabeth Moss in this season of Mad Men. Again, I don’t watch The Good Wife (or Damages for that matter), and as of yet, no one’s offered to pay me to watch Burn Notice.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Chris Colfer (“Glee”)
Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Modern Family”)
Jon Cryer (“Two and a Half Men”)
Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”)
Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”)

This one’s pretty crowded, but I would put my money on either Eric Stonestreet or Ty Burrell. I’m just desperately hoping that Glee doesn’t come in and sweep the whole thing.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Holland Taylor (“Two and a Half Men”)
Jane Krakowski (“30 Rock”)
Jane Lynch (“Glee”)
Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”)
Kristen Wiig (“Saturday Night Live”)
Sofia Vergara (“Modern Family”)

My heart says Kristen Wiig, but this one is probably going to go to Jane Lynch. She’s obviously a great comedian, and her character on Glee is pretty funny. Congrats to both Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara for their nominations, although now that I think about it, this is one that I can’t really see Julie Bowen winning.

Other thoughts…

  • Suck it, Charlie Sheen.
  • Suck it, Entourage.
  • Really surprised to see Ed O’Neill snubbed this year.
  • Not surprised to see Sons of Anarchy snubbed.
  • I’m not the biggest Community fan out there, but not a single nomination? Come on, now.

Modern Family, “Family Portrait”: I wound up with this sorry bunch.

We had some highs and we had some lows, but overall Modern Family was probably the most solid comedy to along in a while, and the first that’ll give shows like 30 Rock and The Office any serious competition at the next round of award shows. But while there’s a lot to say about the show as a whole, I’ll try and keep my comments here limited to the season finale, which aired a few weeks ago, but, what’re you gonna do.

While there was a lot to like about “Family Portrait,” the episode didn’t really feel like a season finale. Claire wanting to take a picture of the entire family was a good way to bring everyone together, but felt a little watered down because the characters spent so much of the episode apart from each other. As I’ve mentioned before, it seemed like “Airport 2010” and “Hawaii” would have worked much better as an endcap to the season.

Even Jay’s short monologue about the family at the end of the episode didn’t feel in any way different from the several others we’ve heard throughout the season, especially when you consider that it isn’t a monologue like we’ve seen before — in which the characters speak to whoever it is filming them — but an interview he’s doing with Luke for a school project.

Comedy aside, at the heart of the show are the family’s relationships with each other, and it would have been much more fitting for that to serve as a centerpiece to the episode. Instead it was the centerpiece of about five minutes toward the end when Claire is finally able to ease up a bit and everyone has a good time throwing mud at each other.

So while it didn’t work for me as an end to an impressive first season, it offered up a lot more when taken as a regular episode. Phil asking Kobe Bryant if he liked being a basketball player was hilarious and was probably the best part of the entire basketball game. I thought the entire Kiss-Cam thing was a little played up in the promos, and didn’t really seem to go anywhere. Next we had Mitchell running from a pigeon that had somehow gotten inside the house. Him chasing after it with a tennis racket — all set to Cameron’s rendition of Ava Maria — may have been the funniest scene in the entire episode. I didn’t think the scenes between Claire and Hailey were comedy gold, but it was nice to see them get some one on one time, and it’s always nice to see Hailey not act like such an airhead.

The episode may falter a bit once you start picking at it, but it was still enjoyable in its own right. I’ll definitely be looking forward to this one returning in the fall. With The Office and 30 Rock both taking dips this season, Modern Family has been one of the only reliably funny shows this year

Stuff I liked:

  • Gloria’s inappropriate dress?! Surely not.
  • I don’t think “The Squirt Locker” works as a joke anywhere outside this episode.
  • “Actually, Where’s Waldo doesn’t stand out. He’s super hard to find.”