Family Tree TV series released on DVD (2 stars)

Christopher Guest mockumentary starring Chris O’Dowd

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Family Tree TV series released on DVD

(Universal)

From This is Spinal Tap to A Mighty Wind via Best in Show, Christopher Guest has made a peerless contribution to the mockumentary genre. With his Family Tree, it could be that the format is simply wilting and dying before our very eyes.

The ever-watchable Chris O’Dowd is Tom Chadwick, a hapless man on a journey to investigate his lineage, finally heading to America where he uncovers some unexpected facts about his ancestors. While there he gets tangled up in a Civil War re-enactment, hangs out with some Native Americans and falls for the victim of a minor car accident.

The main source of comedy in this joint US /UK venture seems to lie in characters stopping mid-sentence as they realise they are about to say something daft. Over the course of eight episodes, it’s not really enough. And Guest himself seems unsure about his format, unlike, say, in The Office, where there’s a real sense that a camera crew is in attendance. Here, when a character addresses the silent interviewer, it feels like an awkward non-sequitur.

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