Fox have scored a solid gold smash with this series. What on first glance looks to be a rather generic family sitcom soon reveals itself as a laugh out loud comedy masterclass. Not since the classic early era of The Simpsons have we been treated to a show that will appeal to seasoned comedy fans every bit as much as the more casual viewer. It's about as broad as it's possible to get, but is one of the tightest, most sharply written shows I've seen - very reminiscent of the excellent Arrested Development in it's style - handheld camerawork combined with relentless, rapid fire gags and top notch verbal and physical comedy, with several running jokes that just get funnier every time. But unlike AD, Modern family doesn't have a mean-spirited or cynical bone in it's body, all the more impressive in my opinion.
There isn't a weak link in the ensemble cast, with every single character having plenty of time to shine, and the interaction between them is always perfectly pitched. It's hard to pick favourites, but I tend to especially enjoy the episodes centred around the vivacious, sassy Gloria and her older, endearingly cantankerous husband Jay, and while it took me a little longer to truly warm to him, the perennially optimistic, lovably childlike Phil is also a winner.
While the show as a whole is never less than entertaining, there are inevitably some episodes that are stronger than others. A few of them fall a little flat, and raise a smile rather than a laugh, but there's always a stone cold classic a couple of episodes later, such as the superb Hawaii vacation two parter, or the episode centred around the family portrait which closes season one.
It's also admirable how the show always undercuts it's sentimental moments (of which there are many) with a bit of well-judged humour, which prevents things from becoming too trite or saccharine.
Overall I can't recommend it highly enough, if you're umm-ing and ahh-ing over whether or not to buy, I say go for it, you won't regret it! My girlfriend and I caught a few episodes while abroad, and bought the series 1&2 set as soon as we got home, and I know it's one we'll return to again and again. I'll certainly be buying a few extra sets for gifts this Christmas.