‘Modern Family’ Season 3: David Cross, a Talking Lily and More!

Fresh off winning a boatload of Emmys last Sunday night, “Modern Family” is entering its third season as the undisputed champion of TV comedy (even the die-hard fans of “Parks and Recreation,” which comes close, can agree that “Family” is the top dog right now).

When the show returns to ABC on Wednesday, September 21 at 9/8c, it’s not likely to skip a beat from its first two seasons: Phil Dunphy (Emmy-winner Ty Burrell) will still act like an overgrown child, much to the dismay of his wife Claire (Emmy-winner Julie Bowen); the emotional Cameron (Eric Stonetreet) and the uptight Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) will bicker and make up; and family patriarch Jay (Ed O’Neill) will be simultaneously flummoxed and fascinated by his young wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara). Meanwhile, Gloria’s son Manny (Rico Rodriguez) will continue to be a manchild; Haley Dunphy (Sarah Hyland) will continue to rebel; Alex Dunphy [Ariel Winter] will continue to be the misunderstood smart kid; and Luke Dunphy [Nolan Gould] will be the same lovable lunkhead he’s always been.

That’s been the beauty of the show during its first two seasons; there are no huge changes or events. It just progresses like life: one adventure after the next, kids growing and changing, adults doing what they do. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see a few new wrinkles this season:

Lily Tucker-Pritchett (or is it Pritchett-Tucker?) is growing up fast. To this point, Cam and Mitch’s adorable kid was pretty much seen and not heard. Granted, it was funny to see Lily stare off into space while all the craziness her parents caused was going on around her, but it seems like the sentiment was that the joke was getting old and a more interactive Lily was needed. So, exit twins Jada and Ella Hiller, who played the baby Lily, and enter Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, who will age Lily up to about 4. Publicity shots from the new season show Aubrey talking with her TV parents. Whether that will add to the hilarity is yet to be seen, because we all know that TV kids can be both hilarious or grating, often in the same scene.

Season 3 Sneak Peek:

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Cam and Mitch want another baby. We saw the two of them talk about this as the season closed, and the topic will continue to be explored this season. Whether the pair will adopt or get a surrogate is still up in the air, but Lily might end the season with a brother or sister.

Claire goes into community affairs … where she finds David Cross. Claire will get involved with “fighting City Hall,” basically to do something that doesn’t involve yelling at her kids (and Phil). We saw shades of that in last year’s hilarious episode “Slow Down Your Neighbors,” so it’ll be a welcome outlet for the high-strung Claire this year. Cross will be playing a city councilman who butts heads with Claire; if the councilman is a cross between Todd Margaret, Tobias Funke, and Cross’ memorable guest role on “Just Shoot Me,” it should make for a fun confrontation.

Christmas and Thanksgiving-themed episodes. Co-creator Christopher Lloyd promised both Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes, according to TV Guide, with the Christmas episode promising “pairings that we haven’t seen very often before.” That might be tough to accomplish; are there any pairings we haven’t seen?

Some familiar faces visit the families. Tim Blake Nelson guest stars as “Cowboy Hank” during tomorrow’s season premiere, where the three families whoop it up in Wyoming. Benjamin Bratt returns as Manny’s wayward dad. And Josh Gad from “The Book of Mormon” will play a neighbor of Phil and Claire’s who seems to think that Phil is his hero. If you’ve ever seen Gad in his other parts, that won’t seem like a big stretch.

What are you looking forward to seeing in season 3 of “Modern Family?”

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