'Modern Family' premiere: We love new Lily

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modern-family-s3-premiere-lily.jpg "Modern Family" is coming off its second straight Emmy win for best comedy series, and the things that scored it that win -- a strong sense of who its characters are and a great synergy between the show's writers and cast -- were on display in its third-season premiere.

So were a couple of the things that occasionally detract from the good parts -- an over-reliance on certain character tics, for instance. But the good outweighed the bad, particularly in the stronger second second half that also served as a great showcase for the new, more grown-up and talkative Lily.

The first half attempted the dicey on-location shoot, at a dude ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Tim Blake Nelson's turn as a cowboy with a thing for Gloria worked, particularly for the reactions it elicited from Jay, who for all his manliness in other aspects of life did not take to the great wide open.

The episode went a little too deep in the Phil-Jay well for our taste, but Mitchell having Luke teach him to do to "boy things"? Fantastic. We rarely get tired of seeing Claire lose her mind over Haley and Dylan, but we also liked the fact that Haley was more grown-up than usual about it.

The second half of the premiere brought the family home, and the comedy got sharper because of it. Claire's insistence on being right (and its origin), Mitchell's realization that he might be to blame for Lily's selfishness (and failure to tell Cam about it, and subsequent ruining of the adoption announcement) and Jay sweating Manny after Gloria aids and abets his locket-related coverup.

And oh yeah, Lily. The show wanted a more animated little girl this season, and Aubrey Anderson-Emmons fits in perfectly. We know a few 3-year-olds, and her alternately adorable, sweet, devious and difficult moods seemed pretty spot-on. Oh, and she's adorable.

It's been a long summer of reruns for one of our favorite comedies. It's good to have it back and firing again. What did you think of the premiere?
Photo/Video credit: ABC