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HBO Kills Comedy By Cancelling Christopher Guest's Family Tree And Stephen Merchant's Hello Ladies

I’m not saying HBO is a chinchy company when it comes to certain series, but the cable network has allowed far more dramas to continue on into multiple seasons while comedies will often get the short shrift and see premature cancellations. Such is the case with two of the funniest comedies of 2013, Family Tree and Hello Ladies, both of which have caught the axe and won’t be receiving second season orders. The silver lining here is that Hello Ladies will officially end its run with some kind of a comedy special.

The “end it on a special” idea is familiar to fans of Merchant’s work, as it was used for both the original British The Office and HBO’s Extras, both of which were co-created with Ricky Gervais. THR’s wording on that is somewhat tricky, as it isn’t clear whether it’s just a regular episode or an actual special, possibly a retrospective or something in front of an audience. The show was based on Merchant’s stand-up work, after all, so it would be kind of interesting if it went that route.

Lasting eight discomfort-filled episodes, Hello Ladies told of the unlucky lessons in love learned by Stuart Pritchard as he tries to find sex in all the wrong places, often accompanied by his tenant Jessica (Christine Woods), his friend Wade (Nate Torrance), and his wheelchair bound Casanova non-friend Kives (Kevin Weisman). Almost every episode drew at least one laugh that was loud enough to wake a sleeping neighbor, often relying on a large fit of slapstick or wordplay. Here’s a clip to let you know what you may have been missing.

On the other side of things, Family Tree was an eight-episode mockumentary style sitcom from the king of the sub-genre Christopher Guest, of Best in Show and This is Spinal Tap fame. In it, Chris O’Dowd plays a Tom Chadwick, an Irish guy who loses his job and girlfriend at the same time, but gains a box of assorted items from a great aunt that he’d never known. He takes his newfound freedom as an opportunity to trace his family lineage and travel to meet family he’d only heard about by name.

Family Tree deftly mixed clever dialogue with excellent, occasionally broad performances from actors as talented as Michael McKean, Ed Begley, Jr., Fred Willard, Carrie Aizley, Guest, co-creator Jim Piddock and the sordid ventriloquist Nina Conti and her monkey Monk. I suppose with Guest, there’s always a chance that he could spin another side of this into a film, but we won’t keep our hopes too high. Since one dinner date clip deserves another, watch Tom in action below.

HBO will be filling its slate with more comedies, including Silicon Valley from Office Space’s Mike Judge and the recently premiered Looking. The network also announced they are now in talks about a second season for Alex Borstein’s hospital comedy Getting On.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.