'Tara' forges own identity

Bow strong for Showtime; HBO returnees sink

The debut of Showtime's Dissociative Identity Disorder dramedy "United States of Tara" on Sunday drew more viewers than series premieres of the network's "Weeds," "Dexter," "Tudors" and "Californication."

The first airing of "Tara" was seen by 880,000 viewers — a figure that swells to 1.5 million including extra airings and online streaming, Showtime said.

"Tara's" lead-in, the final- season premiere of "The L Word" (460,000), might increase chances of the drama's spinoff getting greenlighted: "L Word" returned 44% higher in total viewers than last season's opener. But the second-season debut of imported series "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" (560,000) broke Showtime's streak of good news, dropping 40% from last year's premiere despite a stronger lead-in.

On HBO, the news was sobering: The third-season debut of "Big Love" (1.2 million) fell 47% from last year's premiere, and the second-season bow of "Flight of the Conchords" (560,000) dropped 50%.

Sunday's cable viewership was led by ABC Family's "Another Cinderella Story" (5.3 million), the network's third-most-watched telecast to date. (partialdiff)