<p>Chris O'Dowd and Christopher Guest on the set of HBO's &quot;Family Tree.&quot;</p>

Chris O'Dowd and Christopher Guest on the set of HBO's "Family Tree."

Credit: Family Tree

'Family Tree' co-creator Christopher Guest on his new HBO comedy

Does an ongoing series need a more normal hero? How do newcomers take to Guest's improvisational approach?

Christopher Guest's new HBO comedy series "Family Tree" starts off from an autobiographical place. Like the show's hero, Tom Chadwick (Chris O'Dowd), Guest once inherited a trunk of family mementos and became obsessed with tracing his own ancestry. Now Guest and co-creator (and Guest repertory player) Jim Piddock have turned that into an ongoing series (it debuts Sunday night at 10:30) that's a mix of Guest's usual absurdity and some more serious, even sweet talk of the meaning of family.

I reviewed the series earlier in the week, and I spoke with Guest about having a sane leading man, the key to telling stories about ridiculous people without being mean, ventriloquism, and more.

Read Full Post
<p>NBC has canceled &quot;Smash,&quot;&nbsp;starring Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee</p>

NBC has canceled "Smash," starring Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee

Credit: NBC

NBC cancels 'Smash'

Musical drama was a pet project of NBC's president, but never connected with audiences

We can now qualify "unqualified success": NBC has canceled "Smash." 

Long the pet project of NBC president Bob Greenblatt, who brought it with him when he arrived from Showtime, "Smash" was instead a very expensive disappointment in its first season and an embarrassing failure in its second. Its modest season 1 ratings were entirely a creation of airing after "The Voice," and left to its own devices in season 2, it tanked so quickly that NBC shuffled "Smash" off to Saturdays to die quietly. Because it was beloved by Greenblatt — who called the show "an unqualified success" after season 1 (after creator Theresa Rebeck and a number of actors were replaced) — there was always a slim chance it might return, but NBC announced tonight that the series won't continue next season.

Amidst all of today's cancellation news (including the death of "Happy Endings," which happened while I was putting my kids to sleep), I wanted to write this one up mainly because I'm curious to hear from people who have stuck with the show through the rest of season 2. I stopped four or five episodes in, once it became clear the new creative team had no idea how irritating Jimmy was, and that most of the other problems hadn't been fixed. For those who've stuck with it, how has it been? I have a very vague sense of what's been happening with "Bombshell" and "Hit List," but has any of it been good?

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Community.&quot;</p>

"Community."

Credit: NBC

NBC renews 'Community' for season 5

Held until midseason and expected to die, the college comedy was instead one of NBC's less horrible options

Would you accept five seasons and a movie? NBC has renewed "Community" for another season, against all odds.

Read Full Post
<p>Michael Cudlitz as Officer John Cooper on &quot;Southland,&quot;&nbsp;which TNT just canceled.</p>

Michael Cudlitz as Officer John Cooper on "Southland," which TNT just canceled.

Credit: TNT

TNT cancels 'Southland' after cop drama's fifth season

Cop drama found a second life — and greater artistry — after NBC dropped it

"Southland" has gone end of watch, as TNT has, unsurprisingly, opted not to renew the often brilliant cop drama.

Read Full Post
<p>USA&nbsp;says the next season of &quot;Burn Notice&quot;&nbsp;will be the last one.</p>

USA says the next season of "Burn Notice" will be the last one.

Credit: USA

USA says 'Burn Notice' will end this summer

Spy drama's seventh and final season debuts in June

USA has announced that the upcoming seventh season of "Burn Notice" will be the show's last.

Read Full Post
<p>Joel McHale and Alison Brie in the &quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Joel McHale and Alison Brie in the "Community" season finale.

Credit: NBC

Season finale review: 'Community' - 'Advanced Introduction to Finality'

Jeff prepares to graduate, and visitors from the Darkest Timeline try to stop him

A review of tonight's "Community" season finale coming up just as soon as I give you proof of inseam...

Read Full Post
<p>Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski as Pam and Jim on &quot;The Office.&quot;</p>

Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski as Pam and Jim on "The Office."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'The Office' - 'A.A.R.M.'

Jim settles in as Dwight's number two, and Angela's baby causes distractions

A review of tonight's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I throw the summoning bag at you...

Read Full Post
<p>Amy Poehler and the rest of the &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot;&nbsp;gang will be back next season.</p>

Amy Poehler and the rest of the "Parks and Recreation" gang will be back next season.

Credit: NBC

NBC renews 'Parks and Recreation' for season 6

No timeslot or episode number yet, but Leslie Knope and company will be back next season

"Parks and Recreation" is getting a sixth season.

It's not a surprise, given the state of NBC's other comedies — "Parks" is the network's highest-rated sitcom after "The Office," which is ending in a week — but nothing was certain until the network said it. According to a source close to the production, Now according to NBC, the renewal is now official, though other details — timeslot and number of episodes to be produced — will be figured out later. (NBC's fall schedule will be announced on Sunday afternoon.) 

When I inteviewed "Parks" co-creator Mike Schur about the finale, he said he was "fairly confident" in renewal, and had written the finale more to set things up for a sixth season than to act as a de facto series finale, in the way he has so many times in the past. It appears he was right to feel that way.

UPDATE: Not only has NBC confirmed the news, but Schur tells me, "We finished season five, thought about skipping right to season seven, but NBC suggested we just go sequentially, which is smart, so we're going to go ahead and do Season Six."

Read Full Post
<p>Chris O'Dowd and Michael McKean in &quot;Family Tree.&quot;</p>

Chris O'Dowd and Michael McKean in "Family Tree."

Credit: HBO

Review: Christopher Guest turns slightly sincere with HBO's 'Family Tree'

HitFix
B+
Readers
B+
Chris O'Dowd plays the rare Guest straight man hero in a comedy about genealogy
Christopher Guest has spent much of his brilliant career exploring the fine line between stupid and clever, as one his bandmates in “This Is Spinal Tap” put it. The characters in the Guest school of improvised mockumentary comedy are inevitably delusional about something, whether their talent, their level of celebrity, or their romantic life. Yet even though his movies — notably “Spinal Tap” (directed by Rob Reiner but co-written by Reiner, Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer) and his late ‘90s/early ‘00s trio of “Waiting for Guffman,” “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind” — feature ridiculous, oblivious people, there’s almost always something real at the heart of their delusions. The band in “Spinal Tap” is a middle-aged joke, but they have enough musical skill that Guest, McKean and Shearer have been able to mount multiple tours as their British alter egos. The community theater musical in “Waiting for Guffman” is terrible, and yet in certain numbers you can see the germ of an idea that could be great if it were given to someone with greater skill than these enthusiastic klutzes.
 
“Family Tree,” the new HBO comedy Guest co-created with frequent collaborator Jim Piddock (it debuts Sunday night at 10:30), is something different. It features the usual assortment of Guest-ian foolish dreamers — many of them played by Guest repertory players like McKean, Piddock, Fred Willard and Ed Begley Jr. — and a familiar degree of absurdity. But at its center is a character the likes of which Guest hasn’t had much use for since his very first film, 1989’s “The Big Picture”: a sane, sensible hero.
 
Read Full Post
<p>F. Murray Abraham and Mandy Patinkin should have a lot of time to square off in &quot;Homeland&quot;&nbsp;season 3 now that Abraham has been made a regular castmember.</p>

F. Murray Abraham and Mandy Patinkin should have a lot of time to square off in "Homeland" season 3 now that Abraham has been made a regular castmember.

Credit: Showtime

Exclusive: 'Homeland' adds F. Murray Abraham and Sarita Choudhury as regulars

Two familiar faces should give Mandy Patinkin's Saul even more to do in season 3

We don't know much yet about "Homeland" season 3, which will debut on September 29, but we know that season 2 ended with Mandy Patinkin's Saul as acting director of the CIA after most of the high level officers were blown up by Abu Nazir's people.

And now I can exclusively report that the season will have two new regulars, both with ties to Saul: F. Murray Abraham as retired black ops specialist Dar Adal, and Sarita Choudhury as Saul's estranged wife Mira. Both have been promoted from guest star status.

Read Full Post