TV Review: Family Tree 102 – Treading the Boards

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Family Tree starts on wobbly footing in its second episode, but regains itself for an excellent second half that keeps the quality high; even if the story is spinning it’s wheels a bit.

Guest and his team are telling a long story here and the second of this eight episode season seems to be a bit problematic because of this. A lot of this episode feels like we aren’t moving forward as it carries over from last week and quickly dashes the hilarious “Chinaman” reveal at the end of the premiere. Tom discovers his great grandfather, Harry, was an actor and a visit to the town where he passed away drags on a bit too long as we take an overly long tour of the local theater. There are a number of interesting antidotes sprinkled through out this trip, but I feel like things needed to be tightened up and the excess trimmed out. The reveal that his Harry played the horse’s ass is essential to a number of great jokes late in the episode, they just took way to long to get there. It’s also a very round about way to the reveal that Harry was cheated on as well by his wife and the head of the horse. Both Tom and Harry were made a cuckold of which is a sweet way of connecting the two. This is O’Dowd’s best moment of the episode as he connects with Harry through the cosmos over a broken heart.

The episode gets pretty good from here as Tom and Pete enter the Annual Costume Horse Duty and hilarity ensues. It would have been nice to have more of Tom’s sister (and Monkey) and their Dad in the episode, but I have to remind myself that this is a larger story and their time will come. I still can’t wait to find out what the hell is going on with their step-mom though. Pete is also not growing on me like I would hope after two episodes, but he isn’t terrible by any means either; though I do like the dates he sets Tom up on.

Tom goes on another blind date set up by Pete and the results are even funnier this time around. I wonder if this is going to be a recurring gag on the show, a new date every week, but Tracey’s obsession with bones is going to be tough to top. Her tips on how to get free bones by simply ordering the proper cuts of meat was my particular favorite highlight; only topped by the back end of the horse being on Harry’s tombstone.

“Treading the Boards” starts out dragging on a bit too much, but was pretty great by the end. I will take a slow burn set up if it can finish in the end and the second episode of the series certainly did that. Still, the most important lesson this episode gave us is that going forward Guest is building a big four hour story here and giving us a wham bam episode every week isn’t the top concern. He wants us to get to know his characters and as long as they drop in a few great laughs every week I will be ok with this level of pacing.

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