September 27, 2012



MODERN FAMILY:  Wednesday 9PM on ABC

WHERE WE WERE:  Gloria (Sofia Vergara) is pregnant.  That’s really all you need to know.  Well, that and Cam and Mitchell (Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson) failed in their attempt to adopt a second child.  But mostly, Gloria is pregnant.

WHERE WE ARE:  The next day, which happens to be Jay’s (Ed O’Neill) 65th birthday.  As he’s being taken out for a combination kidnapping/fishing trip by Phil (Ty Burrell) and a couple of buddies, Gloria worries how he’ll react to the news of a late-life baby, while Claire (Julie Bowen) exults in the notion of Gloria fattened up by pregnancy.  Meanwhile, Cam and Mitchell consider, as Mitchell puts it, stuffing a cat into the baby-sized hole in their collective heart.

MODERN FAMILY keeps winning awards and racking up ratings because it’s that damn good.  The season premiere, written by Executive Producers Paul Corrigan and Brad Walsh and directed by co-creator (and recent Emmy winner) Steve Levitan, deftly juggles all its plotlines–there’s also one about Haley’s (Sarah Hyland) boyfriend Dylan (Reid Ewing) needing a place to live, and Manny’s (Rico Rodriguez) own concern about having to share with a new baby–as though introducing and resolving 4 or 5 stories in 21 minutes is no feat at all.  Then it culminated in a beautifully executed, funny and sentimental time-jump, bringing us several months into Gloria’s pregnancy.  There are more innovative, daring things being done in television right now in the half-hour form, most notably on Louie and Girls, but the current situation comedy most likely still to be watched and enjoyed in 20 years is this one.

Tonight’s wasn’t the most subtle episode of Family–we had Jay falling into the water twice, plus some PG 13 visuals of awkwardly positioned giant stuffed animals (just a little bit more of the latter and we would have been in Wilfred territory).  It demonstrated, though, the show’s masterful way of blending such big slapstick moments with smaller beats like the head games that Luke (Nolan Gould) played with Manny and Dylan with Claire, and Claire’s reveal that the horrible post-prom concoction she’d brewed up for Haley wasn’t a hangover remedy at all.  The cast, having gone through the required charade of pretending they’d leave the biggest hit of their careers, is now locked up for several seasons to come, and if ABC can just resist pairing the show with dreck like The Neighbors, Family can provide an ideal launching pad for quality comedies, as it already has for Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B.  It’s nice–and not all that often–when popular success goes to a show that deserves it as much as this one.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."