No second season for HBO's 'Family Tree'

No second season for HBO's 'Family Tree'
Christopher Guest and Nina Conti in HBO's "Family Tree." (HBO)

Television has just lost its best snarky monkey hand puppet.

"Family Tree," the first try at a scripted television series from filmmaker Christopher Guest, will not return for a second season at HBO, officials with the premium cable network confirmed Thursday.

The decision is hardly a surprise. In a world of niche programming, the quirky show about an affable Englishman played by Chris O'Dowd searching for his family roots could not find a home with a big enough audience. Nina Conti played Dowd's sister, a ventriloquist who communicated much of the time through a hand puppet named Monk. 

Despite being embraced by many critics, the show struggled for ratings even at HBO, which has a history of airing programs with low viewership. The show, co-created by Guest and Jim Piddock, opened last May to fewer than a million viewers.

When the show premiered, Times TV critic Robert Lloyd wrote it was "sweet and funny and not a little melancholy," adding that "Guest gives the world a quarter-twist toward the ridiculous, without losing sight of the human dreams and strivings, obsessions and acommodations that are his main and constant subject."

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