There seems to be a lot of people resentful of Modern Family's award success while better shows, such as Community and Parks and Recreation, are routinely ignored. While I don't believe Modern Family's sweep at the Emmys last Sunday was justified, I don't think there should be unfair backlash against the show for it. The show is still plenty funny and the two hours starting the season reflect that.
"Dude Ranch," the first installment of the night, doesn't have much of a central plot besides Dylan leaving the show to become a ranch hand. But, set in Wyoming, the episode leaves plenty of time for the characters to interact with the setting. The comedic timings of all the actors are so great that they can be funny with any situation, and especially in a special outdoors episode.
"When Good Kids Go Bad" returns to more familiar territory with the family back at home. There is a theme of people stealing, lying, etc and Sofia Vergara is hilarious as she tries to cover up Manny's theft. The episode ends with the funniest scene of either episode, with Claire busting out the video of Phil knocking her over. Julie Bowen's Emmy win appears to be well-deserved.
The most conspicuous change in the new season is Lily. Gone is the old Lily, the baby that sat there and did nothing. The new Lily talks and, based on my memory, is a lot bigger than the older one. I'm not sure the difference is realistic, but it doesn't matter too much because Lily finally has something to do.