Good feedback for HBO comedy
Christopher Guest isn’t the originator of the mockumentary but he’s undoubtedly been one of the most influential practitioners of the format, so it feels long overdue that he’s finally made a move to the small screen with new show The Family Tree, after the likes of The Office, Parks and Recreation and Modern Family all have taken notable influence from Guest.
The good news is, Guest doesn’t lose anything by bringing his skills to TV, and the HBO comedy is going down well with the critics. “It is still a distinctly Guest production: often poky, always charmingly whimsical and, from time to time, so astoundingly funny you seem to have shot into a distant stratosphere of pure comedy” writes People Weekly of the show, which revolves around Chris O’Dowd’s character Tom Chadwick who has lost his job and girlfriend; receiving a box of odds and ends from his Great Aunt, he tries to piece the bits together to re-make his family tree. “It helps to be a fan of Christopher Guest--the genius mockumentarian responsible for movies like “Best in Show” and “Waiting for Guffman”--if you’re going to love his new HBO series, Family Tree” the New York Post.
Hitfox meanwhile write “Tom Chadwick is a man with a fixation that’s both reasonable and relatable, and he becomes our tour guide to the familiar, funny Christopher Guest worldview.” The premiere is this Saturday (May 11th).
New comedy from Spinal Tap improv-king Christopher Guest begins in May
Christopher Guest, the king of improv comedy and best known for hit movies such as Spinal Tap and Best In Show, returns to our screens with Family Tree, a show that he has created along with Jim Piddock and which stars Chris O’Dowd, Tom Bennett and Nina Conti. O’Dowd plays the central character Tom Chadwick, who loses his job and his girlfriend and starts to look into his family tree after he receives a surprise box from a great aunt that he has never met. As he delves deeper into his family history, he gains a greater understanding of who his family really is.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly back in January, Guest explained that each episode of the new HBO series was crafted with just eight pages of script, or plot guidelines and the rest was improvised. “Each of these episodes is an eight-page outline,” he explained. “But we've written a huge back history for every character, which took us six or eight months to come up with. We've done an entire family tree going back to the 1700s. So when I talk to the actors prior to shooting, everyone knows who they are. It's not just ‘Hey, let's start yapping here.'”
A trailer for the show has been released online and it shows O’Dowd’s character arriving in California to uncover some of his relatives.
Continue reading: Family Tree: New Comedy From Spinal Tap Star Christopher Guest
Chris O’Dowd will star in a new ‘mockumentary’ from Spinal Tap star Christopher Guest. Guest, who played the hapless Nigel Tufnell in the rock comedy Spinal Tap, has good form when it comes to semi-improvised, faux-documentary comedy such as this. He also worked on Best In Show, the applauded comic dog show movie and now, the BBC have snapped him up to write, direct and star in a new series, Family Tree. The series follows the story of 30 year old Tom Chadwick (played by O’Dowd), who suffers an identity crisis after losing his girlfriend and job.
The series will require actors to improvise material, as Chadwick gains a “growing sense of who he is,” after receiving a mysterious box of possessions from a great aunt that he never knew he had, The Independent reports. Janice Hadlow, the Controller at BBC2, said “I am delighted to welcome Christopher Guest to BBC Television. It will be his first television series for British audiences and one I am proud to have here on the BBC. It has a stellar cast led by the fantastic Chris O’Dowd and is an exciting collaboration with NBCU International and HBO. Family Tree will form a key part of the channel’s comedy next year.”
O’Dowd has become hot property in the comedy world, after his role in the hit movie Bridesmaids. When asked about working with Christopher Guest, he said “I’m terribly excited and monumentally under-qualified to work on an improvised show with Chris Guest. I call him Chris ‘coz we are friends. He calls me George. I don’t know why.”
Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest - Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest Hollywood, California - Los Angeles Premiere of Flipped held at the Cinerama Dome / ArcLight Theatre Monday 26th July 2010