Modern Family had a somewhat shaky third season. It's still one of the best comedies on television, it's just that this was the first season that had flaws worth commenting on.
Stretching Out The Story
This season, we learned that this show isn't really very good at elongated story arcs. All year, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) attempted to adopt a baby brother for Lily (Audrey Anderson-Emmons), a storyline that ended with a whimper in the season finale when they gave up on the search after being disappointed when a planned adoption goes south at the last second. Either go all the way with these stories or don't do them at all.
And Make Them Funny, Too
Claire's (Julie Bowen) sudden and quixotic desire to run for city council wasn't really in character, and the show also failed in making her incumbent nemesis (the normally reliable David Cross) so irritating that his scenes were just a trial to sit through. It's really no surprise that they dropped the entire election storyline for the longest stretch of the season: I suspect that given a choice, they would have never gone back to it.
Good, Bad and Neutral
Alex (Ariel Winter) has been expanding her once-static character in new and fun ways: it's been cool to see her lose some of her middle-child mousiness and own her nerdy-girl cool. On the other hand, several episodes pitched Luke (Nolan Gould) as kind of budding sociopath, which seems like a very odd direction for a character whose defining trait used to be his sweet earnestness. Meanwhile, the writers really haven't done anything new with Manny (Rico Rodriguez), a barely believable character mostly skating along through the natural likeability of the actor portraying him. I also really like the recasting of Lily, who's a much more interesting actor than I expected.
Setting Up For Next Year
Phil (Ty Burrell) seems comfortably ensconced in his new job, and I'd like to see more scenes of him at work, where he's actually both funny and utterly competent at his job. The foreshadowing that Gloria Sofia Vergara is pregnant is one of those extended storylines they've proved to not be that great at. But I'm interested to see what's going to happen with Haley (Sarah Hyland) going to college: how will they tie her in to the rest of the family stories?
How does this season stack up against the others? Do you like the extended plots or do you prefer the self-contained episodes? And how much longer until even Lily turns out to be taller than Haley?