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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2008-2009 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot - or in this new post-strike/straight-to-series world, reading the pilot script. We'll start with the ones that were actually filmed and move on to the others in the coming weeks.
With that in mind, it's even more important to remember that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. Plus: as an added bonus, we've got a backlog of passed over pilots - some from this season, some from last season - we'll be tackling as well. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
THE LIFE & TIMES OF TIM (HBO)
(written & directed by Steve Dildarian; TRT: 18:37)
The network's description: "THE LIFE & TIMES OF TIM is an animated show about a guy who just can't seem to catch a break. He's a nice, normal guy with lots going for him, but for some reason the world conspires against him. TIM (Steve Dildarian, Clio Award winner; co-creator, Budweiser "Lizards" TV campaign) is 25 years old and lives in New York City with his girlfriend AMY (MJ Otto), who's patiently putting up with Tim's antics while he gets his life in order. She has faith in him, but sometimes it's hard to remember why. The rest of Tim's world is full of rather insane characters who are usually either getting Tim into, or out of, trouble. There's DEBBIE (Bob Morrow), the multiracial prostitute who lives next door; CHUK (Cheri Oteri, "Saturday Night Live," "Shrek the Third") the Asian bartender; THE BOSS (Kurtwood Smith, "That 70s Show"), who does not have a first name; RODNEY (Matt Johnson, "Passions"), The Boss's loud assistant from Long Island who enjoys hockey and adult films, but nothing else; and finally Tim's best friend STU (Nick Kroll), who should not be giving advice to anyone, ever. From Warner Bros. Television and Werner-Gold-Miller, THE LIFE & TIMES OF TIM is created by Steve Dildarian ("Angry Unpaid Hooker") and executive-produced by Steve Dildarian, Tom Werner ("That 70s Show," "3rd Rock from the Sun," "The Cosby Show"), Jimmy Miller ("Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," "Borat") and Mike Clements."
What did they leave out: "Tim" was originally developed for FOX last year (the above description actually comes from them) and was subsequently picked up for 10 episodes by HBO. It's not clear if this version of the pilot will be altered for the HBO version.
The plot in a nutshell: Tim (Steve Dildarian) was just hoping for a quiet video night with his live-in girlfriend Amy (MJ Otto). Unfortunately the store's clerk just informed them that his copy of "Whores on the Loose" is 56 days overdue. But before said clerk can realize it was actually "The Notebook," Amy has stormed off. Not sure how to fix things, Tim seeks the advise of his best friend Stu (Nick Kroll, who's "starting to go bald in all the right places") at Chip's (supposedly Cheri Oteri, although the hell if I could tell) Bar. Chip pitches him on buying a penis pump while Stu says to try and get a promotion at work to impress her. And so Tim hits up The Boss (Kurtwood Smith) at Omnicorp about getting promoted, only to learn that to get one he'll have to take his daughter to her prom. Confused, he nevertheless agrees as he and Amy are both thrilled about the promotion - until Tim realizes the prom is on the same night as Amy's birthday. From here, things start to go off the rails as Tim tries to balance both events while keeping Amy in the dark about what he's actually up to. Along the way we also meet Tim's aging prostitute neighbor Debbie (Bob Morrow) and The Boss's oversexed assistant Rodney (Matt Johnson).
What works: "Tim's" low-key sense of humor and simplistic animation reminds me a lot of "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist" (although a lot less squiggly). It also tries to have a real comic voice, which goes against the current animated trend of stringing together an endless series of non-sequiturs and pop culture references. That being said, everything ultimately proves to be...
What doesn't: ...rather underwhelming. For every solid gag (The Boss makes Tim audition his dancing skills) there's a dozen others that fall flat - from the "manly" female high school gym teacher hitting on Stu to Chip more or less being an Asian stereotype. Not helping matters is that the plot feels like something out of a bad sitcom from the '90s (boyfriend forgets birthday, boyfriend must lie to cover it up, etc.). Nevertheless I can't help but be curious how the show will eventually turn out as HBO hasn't run an adult-themed animated show since, what, "Spawn?"
The bottom line: I'm curious but I don't have high hopes.