The Life & Times of Tim

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Airdate: 11 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28 (HBO)

This new late-night animated series from HBO has a derivative feel to it, even if it purports to be wholly original.

Maybe that's because the sensibility seems to fairly scream "Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist," the inspired one-time Comedy Central effort from comedian Jonathan Katz that was gloriously deadpan in its execution even if the visual SquiggleVision style proved more than a bit off-putting. By contrast, "The Life & Times of Tim" is far more traditional in style but pretty much apes the "Katz" delivery.

It springs from the mind of Steve Dildarian, described as the "Clio-winning ad man behind Budweiser's famous 'Lizards' campaign." I'm not sure that penning celebrated ad copy is the best preparation for being the brains and chief voice behind a cartoon series, but hey, whatever.

Yet the truth is that "Tim" holds some genuine promise with its dry wit and understated sensibility. Dildarian is an executive producer, writer and director as well as the voice of Tim, an ordinary adult male working an ordinary job in New York who always seems to wind up in the middle of a mess despite being unfailingly good and decent.

In the opening two-pronged installment (each program comprises a pair of shorts), he has a street hooker on his couch when his girlfriend Amy (voiced by MJ Otto) arrives at his place unexpectedly with her parents. And following that, he's humiliated on national television for purportedly being sodomized by a bum following a bachelor party gone wrong. Yes, it's verbally raunchy and deliriously over the top, though in a controlled way.

Dildarian's ultra-low-key approach hits the right notes more often than not because it's such a contrast with the insanity of the material itself. The first few installments are more hit than miss. So I'll be back for more. At least, a little more.

Production: Insane Loon, MRCII and HBO; Voices: Steve Dildarian, MJ Otto, Nick Kroll, Bob Morrow, Matt Johnson, Peter Giles; Creator-writer-director: Steve Dildarian; Executive producers: Steve Dildarian, Tom Werner, Jimmy Miller, Mike Clements; Producer: Monica Mitchell; Animators: Todd Hemker, Jessica Rojeck, Joe Romero; Co-executive producer: Leynete Cariapa; Consulting producers: Luke Del Tredici, Aaron Hilliard; Co-producer: Mark Douglas; Supervising producer: Ilan Breil; Art director: Leynete Cariapa; Editors: Dan Aronin, Charles T. Jones, Paal Rui.

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