I never heard of Chris O’Dowd before watching The IT Crowd a few weeks ago. I loved the acting particularly of Richard Aoyade (side note: I tried watching the cult show that Aoyade did “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace” but couldn’t get past the second episode) and Chris O’Dowd. Now, I am seeing him everywhere – first on the end of S01 of Girls and now with his own cute show on HBO called Family Tree. In the show, he receives a chest of memorabilia as inheritance from a dead grandmother and goes on a quest for information about his ancestors leading to funny and surprising encounters across England but also in California. It is light and full of those typical weird British characters (the sister that has a monkey hand puppet named Monk, the best friend that is a harmless redneck) that we have come to appreciate in the decades following Fawlty Towers and Monty Python. There are little inside jokes as well like the fake TV shows that his father watches (the mashup of Sherlock and Star Trek was hilarious as was the fake Indian family sitcom) and the narrative style of mockumentary that make it addictive. There are only eight short episodes, but each is funny and stands pretty much alone. I’d have to say that my favorite ones were the last ones in California as we get to see stereotypes of the typical Californians (rich hippies, openly gay older male couples, closet obsession with Kennedy and the Grassy Knoll) and even (finally?) get a love interest introduced. It is a delightful show and we really see Chris O’Dowd come into his own and carry off this lead role effortlessly.
Check it out if you get the chance!
- Christopher Guest: an unlikely aristocrat (telegraph.co.uk)