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RATED Not rated
STUDIO HBO Studios
- Keith’s Favourite 1970’s Sitcoms
- Bonus Scenes
- Music from the Show
It’s like the funny version of every unpleasant Thanksgiving you’ve ever had.
Chris O’Dowd, Tom Bennett, Nina Conti, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Ed Begley Jr., Bob Balaban
Tom Chadwick has recently been laid off. What’s worse, his girlfriend has left. What’s even worse is that his great aunt has died. Well, that last one doesn’t really affect him too much. What does affect him is the chest that his great aunt, for some reason, left him. In the chest are some artifacts from Tom’s family’s history. With the help of his best friend, Tom begins to put together the Chadwick family tree, often to hilarious results.
To put it lightly, Christopher Guest is the single most influential voice of comedy today. Well, I mean, he was. Christopher Guest certainly didn’t create the fake documentary, but he perfected it, which led to a bunch of creative types cribbing from it. He took a long rest of the format, but has now turned it a little on it’s head by coming back to it (kind of) in Family Tree.
While Family Tree isn’t a fake documentary, it certainly has the elements (talking heads, awkwardly honest moments, emotional avoidance). However, it doesn’t always follow the rules, which automatically gives Guest and company the freedom to make it a good show instead of always sticking to artificial rules. This mixture of familiarity and freedom make the show unique and tell a painfully awkward, really funny story.
I love Guest’s dry wit and placing the show in the UK for most of the show is a stroke of genius. The humor certainly isn’t as broad as American comedies, but has more in common with the zany, yet proper comedy that originates from across the pond. It relishes the silence in a way that few other shows do, utilizing painfully awkward situations to wring out its best laughs. When Tom goes to research his famous grandfather and sees that he, instead, played the hind end of a two man horse act, it’s pretty funny. But the long, long, long, long journey it takes for Tom to get to this journey is a brilliant act of comedic escalation.
The casting as always is perfection and it’s lovely to see the cavalcade of Christopher Guest regulars come to play. The real thing that sets it apart from everything else in Guest’s canon is Chris O’Dowd as Tom. He fits in perfectly with his boyishly affable charm, but he also adds legitimate emotion to the proceedings. Tom’s a broken man, so he plays his emotions a bit more on the front. It’s a welcome addition and keeps things very well grounded in these proceedings.
It’s a great show that showcases just why exactly we love seeing Guest and company come together every time.
Bonus features on this show are pretty scant. We have Keitb’s Favourite 1970s Sitcom, which are the actual scenes shot for the television shows within the show. They’re all wonderfully, wonderfully broad fake British sitcoms, which is hilarious.
Bonus Scenes are, obviously, bonus scenes that didn’t make the cut for the episodes. The scenes are funny enough, but nothing really missing.
Finally is Music from the Show, which is all of the music of the show played against the menu screen.
All in all, a very disappointing extras package from a fantastic show.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars