HBO Review: Family Tree-Season 1
- Chris O'Dowd as Tom Chadwick
- Nina Conti as Bea Chadwick/Monkey
- Michael McKean as Keith Chadwick
- Tom Bennett as Pete Stupples
HBO's newest series, "Family Tree", is brought to us by the brains behind such classic flicks like "Best In Show" and "Waiting For Guffman", Christopher Guest. Personally, I like anything this man does. His dry sense of humor and his ability to find the comedy in the mundane never fails to crack me up. He also writes some of the best characters in movies and television today.
The show follows the Chadwick family in London. Tom Chadwick and his sister, Bea, are summoned to their father's house for an announcement. Their great aunt, Victoria, has passed away and left Tom a trunk full on "bits and bobs". The development of their characters begins in the first season as we learn that Tom has recently gone through a tough breakup and isn't quite ready to get back into the dating game. He is an accident scene investigator for an insurance company, but is looking for other positions.
His sister, Bea, was traumatized by a masturbating Puffin when she was child. It was recommended that she try expressing herself through a monkey puppet, and this continues into her adulthood. You can only imagine how funny it would be for an adult to always have a monkey puppet on her arm. The fact that the monkey is rude and has a foul mouth only adds to the hilarity. "Monk", as the monkey is known, has to be one of my favorite characters on the show. He says what everyone else is thinking but is afraid to say. And everyone acts like it's just business as usual for her to have a monkey puppet with her all the time. It does make it difficult to hold down a job, though.
Their parents are divorced and their father, Keith Chadwick, is remarried to a really strange, childlike woman, Luba, from some country like Hungary or something. Keith is an inventor and is inventing such useful items as a shoe warmer/cooler. He is also a lover of corny TV shows and spends quite a bit of time watching them.
Tom's best friend, Pete Stupples, works at the local children's zoo cleaning cages. The two have been friends since childhood. Tom soiled himself in primary school and Pete was the only one who was nice to him. As they say, "a bond was formed." Pete is determined to fix Tom up on dates, but the women are less than desirable. For example, one of the dates really believes that dinosaurs still exist.
As Tom explores the old chest from his great aunt, he finds some interesting items. An old photo, some buttons, and an old shirt from the Olympics. He begins his exploration of his family by going to a local antiques shops to ask the shopkeeper if he can help him find the origin of the items. In true Christopher Guest fashion, it's the little details that can pay off when watching the show. If you pay attention, you will notice that the shopkeeper is always looking at a website named "Isitfatal.com". He also has a hobby of putting landmarks in a bottle instead of ships in a bottle.
This is one of the funniest, best written shows to come along in a long while. I have watched all of the episodes at least 3 times and never tire of it. I always find something I missed. The plot ends up taking us into the theater, pantomime horse races, and silly Americans. The acting is superb with absolutely perfect timing. As usual, Guest is spot on with his casting choices.
The theme song at the end of the show was written by Guest and Harlan Collins and sung by Ron Sexsmith . It's called "I'm Alone But That's Ok". As the song begins, it immediately tugs at my heartstrings. My only complaint about the song is that it's too short. I wish it would go on and on forever! But the good thing is that I've discovered a new singer/songwriter and he's absolutely awesome. I downloaded Ron Sexsmith's album, "Time Being", and every song on it is great. Unfortunately, I don't think you can buy the "Family Tree" theme song, but you can find it on SoundCloud here. His voice is lovely and reminds me of Elvis Costello and Rufus Wainwright. My plan is to get everything he's ever done; I like him that much. I'm going to put his albums in my Amazon store to make it easy for you to get them too, or you can download "Time Being" from iTunes below if it is easier.
Thanks for stopping by to get buzzed about "Family Tree" and Ron Sexsmith. Let me know what you think about them in the comments below. See you next time.