Fall TV Reviews – Thursday

Things are mellowing down in the US midweek before ascending into network overdrive as we head towards the weekend. Time for me to relax.

Modern Family

In short: 2 episodes mark the return of the Pritchett-Dunphy clan. Cam and Mitchell’s decision to adopt a new baby boy will be one of the key focuses of this season, Claire is kinda obnoxious, there’s not enough of Phil being Phil and more family dysfunction hijinks ensue. All is right with the world.

This is going to be short. There are some things I liked, and some things I didn’t. Modern Family is good at playing up certain stereotypical character traits (Gloria’s conversation with the principal, Cam’s sparkler dance) and juxtaposing them with atypical situations to reveal a warm family message, but sometimes it gets caught up in the first part a little too much. The family ranch episode is funny, but the second one, not so much. However, they’re not completely lame yet, and are still able to evoke moments that warrant some “aww”s.

And Lily can speak now!

Bottom line: Fresh from their Emmy wipeout, Modern Family is still Modern Family, sometimes being a heartfelt season 1, and sometimes being the overbearing bits of season 2. A mixed bag that I’m not ready to give up on just yet.

Revenge

In short: Emily VanCamp (as, hey, Emily!) tries on vengeance for size as she picks a bone with the people who betrayed and framed her dad, and they happen to be her dead fiance’s filthy rich Hamptons-residing family. Don’t forget to ice it girl, dish it cold.

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” The Confucius quote sets the darkish tone for what seems to be a loose, soapy interpretation of the Count of Monte Cristo. VanCamp looks great and retains her signature sweetheart demeanor while being a badass, especially when she’s scheming with her lying eyes to ruin lives. She has her own brand of evil smile that’s not traditionally menacing, but whenever something goes her way in her elaborate plans, you smile with her. Boy, can that girl throw a metaphorical wrench.

The pilot is presented disjointedly, but it makes a few things clear – people who live in the Hamptons are highhorse arsewipes, and we should like to dislike them. Any later attempts to humanize these silver spooned pricks is going to be troublesome, because they’ve done an excellent job of making you take Emily’s side and stay there. They’ve also thrown in the usual prospective love interests, the kind-of adversary from daddy’s backstory, and awful wigs with disguises, but those are really bare subplots on their own for the time being.

I’m mostly swayed by VanCamp and her portrayal, but Madeleine Stowe as reigning Queen Bitch Victoria Conrad gets big points too.  There’s nothing quite like seeing rich, spoilt people suffer. Hopefully, we’ll see some things blowing up in Emily’s face to set the balance back in the karmic universe – you can never have too much trouble on TV.

Bottom line: It’s a solid introduction of Emily’s history and the motivations that spur her on to the dark side, and it leaves me curious about other skeletons the Hamptonites might have left in their rosewood furnished closets. Straightforward, easy to digest.

Talky talk

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