The Complete First Season
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All photos © HBO
Reviewed by Will Harris
eet Tim. He’s in his mid-20s, lives in New York, has a girlfriend named Amy, and works for Omnicorp. He also has an unerring tendency to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, or be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As such, HBO’s animated look into Tim’s life – which bears the wholly appropriate title of “The Life & Times of Tim” – is often extremely funny, but it’s just as often likely to inspire you to cringe at the goings-on you’re witnessing.
You know, kind of like “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” except animated.
When you first begin to watch “The Life & Times of Tim,” you may find yourself a bit skittish at first, but proper appreciation of the series is a three-step process. First, you will be struck by the casual, almost improvisational style in which the characters converse. This will soon be followed by the realization that there’s some pretty foul language being tossed about, but we advise you to hang in there and focus on our man Tim, whose modus operandi is generally to shrug and go with the flow, no matter how ridiculous that flow might be. He’s not a stupid man, our Tim, so he’s generally aware when things have begun to go horribly, horribly wrong. But by then, it’s usually far too late to do anything about it.
Each half-hour episode is split into two segments, and the events that unfold within them vary in setting, though the majority of them usually involve spending a certain amount of time at Tim’s apartment and Omnicorp. Tim’s boss regularly asks him to perform questionable tasks in the name of the company, ranging from taking his hot daughter to her high school prom to taking the blame for the shit that the boss’s dog have taken on the rug. Yes, really. What ultimately makes ridiculous ideas like this work is the way Tim considers his options. Okay, yes, it is incredibly demeaning for him to claim that he’s just defecated on a rug in the office, but if he doesn’t do what his boss asks, then he’s probably going to be fired, which means having to look for a new job, and nobody wants to do that, so, basically, it’s probably just easier in the long run to say, “Yeah, that was me. I did that.”
It’s awful, but, well, you can actually kind of see where he’s coming from, y’know?
While it’s somewhat easy to accept that a guy who’s willing to tow the company line as diligently as Tim would be able to keep his job, it’s far less likely that any real-world girlfriend would put up with the things that Amy does. The first episode of “The Life & Times of Tim” begins with Tim having to explain to Amy and her parents (who he’s meeting for the first time) why there’s a prostitute named Debbie sitting on their couch – and more importantly, why Debbie keeps claiming that Tim actually called her and asked her to come over. As this is in no way the worst thing that Amy has to endure during the course of the season, it’s not entirely a spoiler to let it slip that, by the season finale, she’s finally decided that they should break up. Frankly, you’ll be wondering why she waited so long.
Maybe it’s just because of the animation, but beyond the obvious “Curb” similarities (seriously, it’s the only other comedy that makes you flinch and wince as often in a half-hour span), one can imagine that Tim is the guy that Brendon from “Home Movies” would’ve turned into if his career as a filmmaker hadn’t turned out as he’d hoped. Or perhaps this is what Ben Katz would’ve been like if he’d ever managed to get out of Dr. Katz’s house and get his own place. Given that Tim’s voice resembles Ray Romano more than a little bit, you can even picture this as being what might’ve happened if Ray Barone had never married Debra, but however you choose to view “The Life and Times of Tim,” you’ll still be laughing throughout. And cringing. But mostly laughing.
Special Features: Disappointingly, the only bonus is “Awkward Moments: A Collection of 10 Animated Shorts.” Given that Dildarian is not only the voice of Tim but also the writer and director of all ten of the season’s episodes, you’d think he could’ve at least offered a commentary on the first episode. Oh, well.