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November 24, 2014

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The Twelve Days of Festivus: Seven shows a-thrivin'

by Kona Gallagher, posted Dec 17th 2009 11:03AM
john lithgowOn the seventh day of Festivus, TV gave to me... Seven shows a-thrivin'.

The 2009-2010 season is a great one to be on TV-- especially for returning dramas and new comedies. If we had 20 days of Christmas, I probably could have filled the list with shows that were either thriving right out of the gate or making a resurgence after being on the air for several years. As it is, we just have seven slots, so here are some noteworthy series that are thriving this year.

Dexter
I've always liked Dexter, but it's never been appointment TV for me. I've generally been content to wait until the season came out on DVD and knock all of the episodes out in a weekend. However, after a creative dip in season 3, I've found myself positively glued to my television every Sunday night that season 4 has aired. John Lithgow absolutely made the season as the creepy Arthur Mitchell. Plus the finale? I know some of you saw the big twist coming at the end, but I certainly did not. Who doesn't like to end a season with their jaw on the floor?

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Review: Modern Family - Undeck the Halls

by Jason Hughes, posted Dec 10th 2009 1:30AM
Modern Family: Undeck the Halls
(S01E10)
I think we all know the holiday season is about learning from our mistakes, and then trying to make amends, right?

Well, that's what it's about in the extended Pritchett family. It's the first Christmas for Jay and his new family, but he's a little surprised when Manny starts bringing some Colombian Christmas traditions into the family. Cameron and Mitchell take Lily for her first Christmas photo with Santa Claus, only to be disappointed when a shift change brings a less realistic Mr. Claus to the chair. Cam has his own mini-crisis, though, because of a troupe of carolers he has some history with.

The craziest of all of this is what went down at the Dunphy household. As a parent of a ten-year old, I know I've struggled with having to go through with whatever threat I make during a disciplinary lecture. It taught me to be careful of what I say, because I may not want to go through the hassle of taking all the toys out of his room and putting them in the garage.

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Review: Modern Family - Fizbo

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 26th 2009 11:30AM
Modern Family: Fizbo
(S01E09)
You've gotta love the use of the dramatic flashback to lead us into the saga of Luke's birthday party. Not only was the affectation utilized well, it again showcased the love and support at the heart of this family saga. Opening us at the hospital the way they did also nicely gave the whole episode that feeling of inevitable dread.

At the same time, they smartly kept the number of people involved in the hospital conversations very small at first so that we would have no choice but to speculate which member of the cast would wind up there, and via what means.

Then, they just sat back and let events unfold as Phil and Claire put together one of the coolest -- and lamest -- parties in the history of television. And still they found a way to let everyone shine for at least a scene or two.

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Review: Modern Family - Great Expectations

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 19th 2009 11:31AM
Modern Family: Great Expectations
(S01E08) I don't know if enough credit is being given to the child actors on this show. All four are doing top-notch work... five if you count Lily. We already knew that Rico Rodriguez is amazing as Manny, but so little is being said about the Dunphy children. They haven't had as much screen time, yet, as really anyone else on the show, but who can deny how funny it is watching Ariel Winter as middle daughter Alex just torturing her dimmer siblings.

Sarah Hyland is channeling her best Mila Kunis in the role of eldest daughter Haley, who's just so tortured by how mean and horrible her family is. This week, she matched wits with her grandfather, only he'd been down this road so many times with his own daughter, and to a lesser extent his son, that he knows all the tricks by heart.

I was laughing so hard I had to rewind and watch the whole scene again when Haley got up from the table and stepped outside, only to find Jay out there already changing a light bulb.

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Review: Modern Family - En Garde

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 5th 2009 1:50AM
Modern Family: En Garde(S01E07) I love more and more every week that we have these three different families we can pull from for our main focus. On most family shows, you're limited by the one family dynamic you're dealing with, and by the age of the kids involved. Here, in one show, we have a gay couple with a baby, a traditional couple with kids ranging from pre-teen to teenager, and an older man married to a younger woman with her young son.

That's like at least three different shows worth of material they can pull from each week. How can they possibly not find simply tons of moments of funny with that much to work with? So far, they've managed to pack every minute of each episode, and this week was no exception.

The main story was Manny's fencing tournament; of course it would be fencing Manny would excel at ... why not? From there, we extrapolated into the general parenting desire to have children who are great at something, and the desire of children to receive praise from their parents.

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Review: Modern Family - Run for Your Wife

by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 29th 2009 1:30AM
Sarah Hyland(S01E06) Once again, the three families on this show needn't interact at all for the series to work. Maybe if someone were tuning in for the first time, completely unaware that the three families were all related, they'd be confused as to why we're following these three separate storylines. Even then, though, I suspect they'd still laugh at Lily's costumes and Manny's Colombian pan flute.

As a parent, I'm not to the teenage years yet, so can't relate as well with the experiences of Phil and Claire, but I do remember the fear and panic you have with your first child. Every little bump is a crisis, as we saw. And, I'm ashamed to admit that I committed the same "horrible" crime they perpetrated on Lily later in the episode, as well.

As for Jay and Gloria ... oh, my son is in the fifth grade. Sometimes I feel like they're living my exact life. Maybe all fifth graders are equally off-the-wall, or maybe my child is as special and unique as Manny.

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Ed O'Neill shines on Modern Family

by Allison Waldman, posted Oct 25th 2009 7:01PM
modern_family_abc
One of the true breakout hits of this fall season is ABC's sitcom Modern Family. The critics have been singing the praises of this show, and the ratings have been good enough that I will predict without equivocation, that Modern Family will see a second season. And Ed O'Neill deserves a lot of the credit.

I like Modern Family. I don't love, love, love it, but I like it. The guys that were together on Frasier, Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, have given us something good here. It's not Frasier level yet, but it might get there with time.

If there's one part of Modern Family that has won me over completely, it's Ed O'Neill. You might think, well, sure, it's Ed O'Neill. But I have never liked Ed. I was never a fan of Married With Children. I loathed it. And don't tell me I'm a moron for saying that; it's just a show that never worked for me.

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Review: Modern Family - Coal Digger

by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 22nd 2009 12:38AM
Modern Family: Coal Digger(S01E05) I'm glad this issue was finally addressed. No matter what you see on the surface, if your older father marries a stunningly beautiful piece of... well, you know... like Gloria, then you're going to have some concerns. Especially if the old man looks like Ed O'Neill. Let's not mince words here, I love O'Neill but he's no Cameron!

As usual, there was a lot going on in this episode, but still plenty of rooms for laughs. We're five episodes in now, and Modern Family hasn't laid an egg yet. That's a pretty impressive performance out of the gate for any show. This week, we got the extended family together again, where they could work out some of those unresolved issues.

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Modern Family: The Incident

by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 15th 2009 1:45AM
Shelley Long, Modern Family(S01E04) You know, I never even thought about the fact that Jay's ex-wife might still be out there. I don't know why, but I guess I figured she was dead or something, since nobody's even mentioned her prior to tonight. Now I know why that's the case. There's a lot of history to this family, and it looks like we're going to be able to piece it together.

I loved the flashbacks we did get this week, and Shelley Long as the ex-wife is just brilliant casting. And may I say she's been aging very well. She hasn't lost even a bit of her comic shops, either. I'm hoping she agreed to come back and play this role over and over again. Since she's also Claire and Mitchell's mother, there's reason for her to come back over and over again.

Every week, I'm blown away at all the little moments of humor the writers find in these three families. They pack so much in a short half-hour that I come out of it exhausted. Tonight's episode stuck to one main plot, but man was it good.

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Shelley Long and Benjamin Bratt on Modern Family

by Nick Zaino, posted Oct 14th 2009 2:02PM
Shelley Long on Modern FamilyI was already looking forward to Shelley Long guest starring on tonight's episode of Modern Family. Long is playing the unstable ex-wife of Jay, played by Ed O'Neill, who I also like.

Modern Family
has been one of the best new comedies this year, delivering on the hype surrounding it by establishing an appealing base of characters. And yesterday, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Benjamin Bratt signed on to play Javier Delgado, the ex-husband of Jay's new wife, Gloria Delgado-Prtichett, who is played by Sofia Vergara.

Both are great casting, and seem to be a good fit.

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Modern Family: Come Fly With Me

by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 8th 2009 12:20AM
Modern Family: Come Fly With Me(S01E03) After last week's installment of Modern Family where each family stayed within their own little nucleus, this week saw the intermingling of two of them. Cameron and Mitchell didn't have time to get involved, because the somewhat snobbish Mitchell discovered the joys and wonders of Costco. "What is this place?"

I remember my first time in Costco. You do have this strange desire to grab all the carts and flatbeds and go crazy. Who doesn't need 5,000 gumballs and a five-pack of VCRs? I've still got two spares in the garage. But Mitchell and Cam's shopping spree was the B-story.

This week, the show explored relationships between parents and their children. We got to see Claire's husband Phil try to bond with Jay in a model airplane flying expedition. Meanwhile, Claire and Sofia swapped kids and shared growing and learning experiences with them. And it all worked. Everything about this show is working right now.

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Modern Family: The Bicycle Thief

by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 1st 2009 12:35AM
Modern Family: The Bicycle Thief
(S01E02)
Let all the doubters stand and face the wall in shame. This cast is not too big and this is absolutely the funniest new show of the season. Tonight, rather than have the characters interact directly (except for one small scene), the connection between them was thematic. And tonight it was all about fatherhood.

When they opened the show with the fathers talking about what they thought fatherhood meant, I knew this show was going to become a huge hit. They absolutely get it. They've got something really special with the three family dynamics they've set up. Something that represents almost every facet of modern America all in one show. And one by one they can talk about anything through these families.

It's brilliance in its simplicity, brilliantly executed. Not only did we get so many funny moments throughout, but if we paid close attention, we learned several lessons about life and parenthood between the laughs.

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Ed O'Neill and the Bon Jovi wig

by Nick Zaino, posted Sep 24th 2009 5:00PM
Ed O'Neill Modern FamilyThe Bon Jovi Wig is back! This has been a week of TV memories for me. First, I enjoyed Andre Braugher's psychiatrist on House, and last night, Ed O'Neill made a welcome return to the sitcom world. O'Neill hasn't been gone completely, of course. He has bounced around a bit, most recently appearing as a regular on John from Cincinnati. But he hasn't had a character as fun as Jay from Modern Family since his days as Al Bundy on Married... with Children.

I've always liked O'Neill (even watched a bit of Popeye Doyle, but not too much - no one is that big a fan). As a kid, I watched Married... with Children every week with my family. We were never quite touchy-feely enough for the standard sitcom family. And there was a small running gag in Modern Family that brought back memories of another gag from Married... with Children.

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Modern Family: Pilot (series premiere)

by Jason Hughes, posted Sep 24th 2009 2:18AM
Modern Family
(S01E01) It's so simple. All you need to make a great family comedy is have it be funny. I must have laughed out loud at Modern Family more than I have at any recent television show, including the much-hyped Community. Bar none, this had some of the sharpest one-liners and zings flying around, as well as sharp characterization and top-notch acting across the board.

I don't even care that ABC "spoiled" the first episode by revealing that these three very different families were all actually one big family. I think I would have figured it out by then anyway. What I did care about was that I found myself interested and enjoying all three families equally. Combined, they're going to be able to mine great comedy from this ensemble for years to come.

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Jesse Tyler Ferguson talks about Modern Family

by Nick Zaino, posted Sep 22nd 2009 2:02PM
Jesse Tyler Ferguson of ABC's Modern FamilyJesse Tyler Ferguson found success on Broadway originating the role of Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He stood out, too, in his role in The Class, but the show didn't stick around too long. Now he's in one of the most buzzed about sitcoms on the fall schedule, Modern Family, co-starring with Ed O'Neill, Sofia Vergara, and Ty Burrell.

Ferguson plays Mitchell, half of a gay couple with Eric Songstreet's Cameron, who are raising an adopted Vietnamese girl. O'Neill plays his father, Jay, who is newly married to a woman half his age, Gloria, who is played by Vergara. There is also his sister Clarie (played by Julie Bowen) and her husband Phil (Burrell) who thinks he'll be cool to his kids if he learns all of the dance routines from High School Musical.

The family looks like a wonderfully funny mess, and Ferguson says they'll add their share of guest stars in the coming weeks with Elizabeth Banks, Edward Norton, and Shelly Long making appearances. I caught up with Ferguson by phone during a morning long press session of interviews to talk about the buzz for the show, his character, and his Tweet that he's planning to dress as Lady GaGa from the VMAs for Halloween.

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