Jim Piddock is the co-creator, co-writer and co-star of one of 2013’s funniest new series, Family Tree. The first season DVD set has just hit stores and Renegade Cinema caught up with Piddock, who you’ll recognize for his many TV and film appearances in the likes of Independence Day, The Five-Year Engagement and Get Him to the Greek, about the DVD and the show’s future.
It’s nice getting to watch all the episodes back-to-back on the DVD, as opposed to waiting a week between them. Do you think more people will discover the show via DVD? People do seem to enjoy binge-watching now.
I think that’s the biggest shift in television viewing in the last few years. People would always DVR shows and watch them in clusters, or wait for the full season DVD to watch it, but now the whole concept of releasing an entire season on one day is a reality. There’s no question that people want to watch things when they want to watch them, not when they’re told to by programmers. Which hopefully will make the Neilson ratings, or any other ratings of the first-run airing of shows, utterly meaningless.
Have you a favorite deleted scene or extra from the special features of the DVD?
I like them all, which is why Chris and I put them on the DVD. But one that stands out from memory, because it was so amazing to watch when it happened live, was Ed Begley’s conspiracy theory rant. We kept quite a bit of it in the actual show, but the additional section was also fantastic. We ended up cutting it down, partly for time and partly because it really pushed the character of Al into a whole other realm of mental illness that would be hard to climb down from. I’m also very fond of the Tom/Mr. Pfister “Life is like a washing machine” clip. It’s actually an extremely well-constructed and quite amusing scene, but again it was cut for time and, in that instance, complete irrelevance to the episode story line!
Of course, that’s like asking a parent who their favorite child is. But I’ll answer it because we had to choose recently for awards purposes and we ended up going with Episode 8, “Cowboys”. I think it has the most packed into it, with multiple story lines which all worked. Having said that, it was a close call between that one and Episode 6, the Civil War episode. But, honestly, I like every episode in its own right and how they all fit into the arc of the whole series.
Mr Pfister is an interesting character. Did you dream up a back-story for him? What can you tell us about him that we didn’t learn through the series?
Yes, I did. Most of which I’ve either forgotten or ended up on the cutting room floor. Although there is a little bit of his backstory among the DVD bonus scenes. In short, Mr. Pfister emigrated from South Africa many years ago, in rather a hurry as his father was very actively anti-apartheid. He ended up working in the financial world for many years after leaving school, then woke one day and jacked it all in to open “Mr. Pfister’s Bits And Bobs” antiques and curios store, and has never been happier. He has a wife, three grown daughters, and a large extended family and, apart from his landmarks-in-a-bottle hobby, he spends a lot his spare time spelunking, which for the uninitiated is another — slightly funnier — word for “potholing” or “cave exploring”
So the big news, last week, was that HBO wasn’t renewing the show. Do you still believe the show has a future – possibly on another network, or as a movie?
Yes. I certainly hope so. We’re currently in the very strange position of having made a first series that was hugely acclaimed, garnered a passionate, hard-core fan base, but doesn’t have a home. It’s rather unusual. Especially as I think the show has a lot of life left in it. Chris and I spent a couple of hours, during editing, talking about a second season and we came up with about 15 episode ideas right off the bat. There’s a also a huge surprise twist that comes out of left-field, but totally makes sense of the entire concept of the show.