Modern Family: What a Bratt!

Television's maybe-best-new comedy Modern Family returned from break last night and did what it does best: cram so many jokes into one episode that it's impossible not to laugh.

Modern Family is already through episode 11, and it's showing all the signs of a long-lasting life on network television. The keys components are all there: consistency, strong acting, and trans-episodic jokes (Jay's "Of course you were" is the new "I made a huge mistake" from Arrested Development).

Last night's episode, "Up All Night," also flaunted Modern Family's finesse in featuring guest stars. Benjamin Bratt played Manny's absentee father and did a fantastic job of being a well-mannered guest (star); he never tried to steal a scene or overplayed his Latin-lover stereotype. That's how it's done, Ed Norton. He's also nicely set up to recur, and his character was given enough backstory in prior episodes to really flesh out the role. We learned that Javier is not just an irresponsible parent, but that he's also a charming man with endless connections and a shady past.

But what Modern Family really excels at is giving each cast member plenty of screen time, and that artful balance was on full display last night. The returns of Manny's father and Phil's kidney stones served as dueling A-stories, while Cameron and Mitchell's parenting disagreement served as the episode's B-story. Yet, Cam and Mitchell still got plenty of camera time and were handed some of the episode's best jokes. There are arguably ten main characters on the show, and we know each one of them intimately—that's hard to pull off, but Modern Family's writers have done it. We don't usually give episode grades around here, but I'm slapping an A-minus on this one.

Other notes on the episode:

Best Gag: Cam's crying while listening to the baby monitor, and Mitchell's annoyance at having to deal with TWO babies.

Episode MVP: Sofia Vergara. I'm still amazed at how she's jumped into an American sitcom so flawlessly, and that her Charo for the new millennium never gets old. Ed O'Neill and Benjamin Bratt earn honorable mentions.

Thing to Ponder: Who has been the best guest star on the show so far? Elizabeth Banks? Benjamin Bratt? Shelley Long? Let's discuss!


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (10)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Benjamin Bratt, hands down.
Reply
Flag
I find this show at most mediocre, not because of the actors but because of the script. This last episode was an exception, it was funny and well paced, Benjamin Bratt helped a lot. I hope for more like this one. Nowadays it is hard to find a decent comedy show.
Reply
Flag
I love this show, really, but I do feel it's getting a bit over-hyped. I think where we differ is that while I find this show really humorous and I love the characters, it's not laugh-out-loud funny, which is what a lot of people use as a measuring stick for a good sitcom. I still love it, though!

I think I liked Shelley Long the most so far...not sure, though. They're all pretty good.
Reply
Flag
This show should not be compared to Arrested Development. I really don`t find it that funny
Reply
Flag
This show should not be compared to Arrested Development. I really don`t find it that funny
Reply
Flag
I like the show, but it's nowhere near Arrested Development good. I liked the episode, I found the Manny, Jay, Gloria storyline most intriguing, then the Cam storyline, and finally the Phil storyline. Other then Phil, all the other characters in his clan are kind of okay. Still pretty good show though.
Reply
Flag
Modern Family isn't the best new comedy.. it's mediocre at best
Reply
Flag
This show is just all around awesome.
Reply
Flag
how about ed norton, i actually thought he was hilarious in his guest spot.
Reply
Flag
omg wow i was even saying on the mercy article u guys wrote, why arent u writing bout modern family, yay u listened:)
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook