Tag: The United States of Tara

Don’t write off “The United States of Tara” just yet

I don’t really know how positive or negative the reviews have been for Showtime’s new half-hour dramedy, “The United States of Tara.” The score over at TV.com is 6.5, which isn’t particularly good. (“Weeds” and “Entourage” both scored an 8.9.)

The series stars Toni Collette as Tara, a mother of two teenagers and the owner of no fewer than three other personalities. Tara and her patient husband Max (John Corbett) decided that she would no longer take Xanax to suppress the personalities. Why? We don’t really know — other than Tara’s statement that she wants to “feel something.” (I’m paraphrasing.) The series feels like it’s trying to recreate what makes “Weeds” so great — how a suburban mother’s unique characteristic/career has such a drastic effect on her family.

Anyway, the first few episodes were funny in spots, but high on the uncomfortable meter as Tara’s “alters” would emerge at inopportune times. For its comedy, the series relies too much on how Tara’s other personalities embarrass the rest of the family. And it was starting to get tiresome, especially since it could all be avoided if she only stayed on her meds.

But the sixth episode — “Transition” — was funny as hell. We saw two of Tara’s alters but it was only for a brief moment. The episode revolves around a visit by Tara’s parents for her sister’s birthday party. Her parents want the kids to live with them, and Tara just tries to get through the weekend without transitioning.

But the funniest part of the episode was the daughter’s interaction with her boss, Gene (Nathan Corddry). Gene manages an Applebee’s-type restaurant chain and his character is starting to steal the show. The writers would be wise to utilize Patton Oswalt’s comedic delivery as well. He is hilarious as Max’s co-worker and friend but he’s only appeared in two episodes.

I’m not saying that “The United States of Tara” should be renewed or that it deserves an Emmy. But I was thoroughly impressed with this episode and, unless they really drop the ball over the next couple of installments, I’m going to watch the rest of the season. Those that gave up on the series early might want to check out the sixth episode to see if it blows up their proverbial skirts.

It’s time to set your TiVos…

There are a number of new (and returning) shows making their season debuts this month. Here is a list of the scripted shows that premiere in the next two weeks (through 1/19):

SCRUBS (ABC)
1/6/09 at 9:00 PM & 9:30 PM
8th season premiere

NIP/TUCK (FX)
1/6/09 at 10:00 PM
5th season winter premiere

10 ITEMS OR LESS (TBS)
1/6/09 at 11:00 PM
3rd season premiere

DAMAGES (FX)
1/7/09 at 10:00 PM
2nd season premiere

FLASHPOINT (CBS)
1/9/09 at 9:00 PM
2nd season premiere

MONK (USA)
1/9/09 at 9:00 PM
7th season winter premiere

PSYCH (USA)
1/9/09 at 10:00 PM
3rd season winter premiere

24 (FOX)
1/11/09 at 8:00 PM
7th season premiere – special night and time

KYLE XY (ABC FAMILY)
1/12/09 at 9:00 PM
3rd season premiere

THE BEAST (A&E)
1/15/09 at 10:00 PM
(from A&E’s press release, November 2008) A&E Network will premiere the original scripted drama series, “The Beast” on January 15th at 10PM ET/PT. “The Beast,” starring Patrick Swayze and Travis Fimmel, centers on an unorthodox but effective FBI veteran, Charles Barker (Swayze), who takes on a rookie partner, Ellis Dove (Fimmel), to train in his hard-edged and psychologically clever style of agenting. In the premiere episode of “The Beast,” the mischievous Barker hazes Dove as they go undercover on their first case to infiltrate a weapons smuggling ring. Barker brilliantly manipulates situations, constantly tests his new partner’s abilities and pushes him to delve deeper into the roles of the undercover characters he creates. Although Dove takes a liking to Barker, the new job takes its toll on him. The stress and danger of being an agent quickly makes him realize that he can no longer maintain normal relationships outside of work. Yet that’s not the worst of it. The rookie is confronted with a larger challenge: An FBI Internal Affairs team feels Barker may have gone rogue and they try to enlist Dove as a double-agent in the bureau’s investigation of his mentor.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (NBC)
1/16/09 at 9:00 PM
3rd season premiere
(Note: I’ve been watching this season and it’s as good as it has ever been.)

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (SCI-FI)
1/16/09 at 10:00 PM
4th season winter premiere
(Note: Be sure to check back for our weekly blog of the final season.)

THE L WORD (SHOWTIME)
1/18/09 at 9:00 PM
5th season premiere

BIG LOVE (HBO)
1/18/09 at 9:00 PM
3rd season premiere

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS (HBO)
1/18/09 at 10:00 PM
2nd season premiere

THE UNITED STATES OF TARA (SHOWTIME)
1/18/09 at 10:00 PM
(from Showtime’s press release, June 2008) Showtime Networks has fast-tracked the pickup of THE UNITED STATES OF TARA, a new 12 episode half-hour comedy series starring Academy Award(R)-nominated actress Toni Collette (“Little Miss Sunshine”) as a wife and mother who suffers from disassociative identity (formerly multiple personality) disorder, it was announced today by Robert Greenblatt, President of Entertainment for Showtime. The comedy series, a co-production of Dreamworks Television and Showtime Networks, will delve into how a dysfunctional family, including Tara’s working husband played by John Corbett (“Sex and the City”), copes with the various identities that may appear on any given day and range in age, temperament and even gender.

SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL (SHOWTIME)
1/18/09 at 10:30 PM
2nd season premiere
(Note: I’ve seen the first few episodes of the second season and there was no fall off.)

Check back on 1/19/09 and we’ll have another list of debuting shows for you. If you can’t wait, the Futon Critic has a complete list of January premieres.

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