tue 22/09/2020

Modern Family, Sky1 / Question Time, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

Modern Family, Sky1 / Question Time, BBC One

Modern Family, Sky1 / Question Time, BBC One

Three odd couples and one very irate studio audience

American critics have been fanfaring Modern Family as something of a sitcom revolution for its wit, intelligence and the cast's all-round expertise. It might take longer to grow a British fanbase, because you need a few spins around the circuit before its contours start to feel familiar, but then suddenly the lights go on and revelation ensues.

Initially, it looks like it should be called Modern Families. There's grouchy senior citizen Jay (Ed O'Neill) and his young Colombian wife Gloria (the scorchio Sofia Vergara), gay couple Mitchell and Cameron, and "conventional" parents-with-kids Phil and Claire. If anything unites them, it's that they're all struggling with potentially catastrophic conflicts. Mitchell and Cameron have adopted a Vietnamese baby, about which they're experiencing divergent emotions - Mitchell wants to be a conscientious parent, while Cameron can't deny the siren call of his inner Ethel Merman. The price Jay is paying for being the proud owner of a trophy wife is bystanders assuming he's her father and having to share his home with her cantankerous son Manny. As for Claire (Julie Bowen), she's terrified her 16-year-old daughter Hayley will stage a genetic encore of her own wild ride with boys and sex. Her husband Phil (the rather brilliant Ty Burrell) is in the grip of a cringe-evoking second adolescence in which he addresses teenagers in dude-speak and turns into a pantomime lothario in the presence of attractive women.

Episode 1 ended with the perspective-bending revelation that all of them are connected, since Jay is the father of siblings Claire and Mitchell. Episode two then re-levelled the playing field by being a deftly-constructed farce about Phil buying a new bicycle for his son Luke. The deal, supposedly, was that the gift of the bike would be repaid by Luke discovering a sense of responsibility. Finding the bike casually abandoned, unlocked, on the pavement, indignant Phil pedals off on it to teach Luke a lesson. He finds himself trapped on a rollercoaster of disaster which leads him into the bedroom of voluptuous new neighbour Desiree (but only because she'd locked herself out), back to the bike shop for a replacement after the first one was apparently stolen, then into scenes of ritual humiliation after the stolen bike turns out not to be stolen after all. Modern Family was created by Frasier veterans Christopher Lloyd and Steve Levitan, and some of that gilt-edged pedigree is starting to shine through.

But of course last night's big TV event was BNP chairman Nick Griffin's much-anticipated appearance on Question Time. BBC chiefs Mark Thompson and Mark Byford were spot on in resisting the mob baying for Griffin (below) to be banned, and a contributor to The Guardian's "Comment is Free", where the debate raged at 1,000 degrees Centigrade, put it succinctly: "It is quite remarkable how many commentators are calling for state censorship on the website of a liberal daily newspaper." griffin_small

As for the broadcast , the panellists were so desperate to demonstrate how despicable they considered Griffin that they ended up shutting him out for long periods. When he did get a chance to speak at any length, he soon started lapsing into spittle-flecked ranting, so the best way to expose his innermost beliefs would be to give him a 90-minute monologue to camera. It should have been a straightforward task for them to gut Griffin and hang him up by his ankles, but while Sayeeda Warsi registered some cogent points, Jack Straw's shifty, blustering evasions spoke volumes about what has driven some voters to reject the political mainstream.

Modern Family repeats on Sky1 on Sunday at 7.30pm and Monday at 8pm. New episode next Thursday at 8pm

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the debate was a despicable farce just a hand picked immigration favouring audience designed to favour new labours idiotic stance on immigration this will lose labour the election. not the fiddleing or the banking failures. It was so obviously fixed it almost made me puke i had to switch off we need a proper debate with an audience that represents proper rank and file voters .....soon. it just highlited the fact that the bbc is a propaganda peddleing nu labour crap organisation who must think the british people are stupid christ weve all had enough and they cant see it

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