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“The Life and Times of Tim”: It’s not his fault

Though I have all the admiration in the world for “The Simpsons,” I’ll be the first to admit I’m not always drawn to TV animation.Tim1_2

So, with that in mind, I find it all the more surprising how much I enjoyed the recently concluded season of HBO’s “The Life and Times of Tim.” Playing catch up on my Tivo, I watched the last installment of the season the other night — after seeing the other nine episodes — and now can’t wait for a second season … but more on that later.

Chatting today with Tim — aka creator and exec producer Steve Dildarian — feels a little disconcerting. Am I talking to Steve or Tim? It’s all a bit strange, having a conversation with the voice of a cartoon.

Dildarian said “Tim,” which came out of a cartoon short “Angry Unpaid Hooker” that won an award at the Aspen Comedy Fest, has been a nice change of pace, career-wise. He’s an ad man by trade, having come up with the Budweisers’ lizard campaign and voiced the Budweiser donkey who famously raced against the Clydesdales in a Super Bowl commercial.

“This is beyond gratifying,” he says from his home in San Francisco. “I was in advertising for so long but having a show was always Plan A for me.”

He originally pitched the toon to Fox, but the network said it wasn’t a right fit with its schedule. That wasn’t to say the net didn’t like it, but they felt “Tim” would’ve been a tough sell after “Family Guy.”

HBO grabbed it, however, and without much fanfare, has seen buzz pick up. Net pays a license fee to Media Rights Capital, which produces the series.

Tim2_2 “They did promos and some things on the Internet but it’s not the kind of show that’s thrust upon you,” he said. “It seems like we got more attention toward the end of the season.”

The plotlines revolve around Tim, natch, a nondescript “Office”-like worker who always somehow ends up in awkward situations. According to Dildarian, it’s not really Tim’s fault when his girlfriend, Amy, is upset when a prostitute is sitting on his couch, or that he takes a neighbor’s daughter to a strip club. Things happen.

“In my head, everything Tim does is excusable and justified. He’s the good guy but gets portrayed the wrong way,” Dildarian explained.

As far as voice casting, Dildarian went no farther than his co-workers, and he stuck with friends with no experience.

Both Mary Jane Otto as Amy and Bob Morrow as Debbie the prostitute are colleagues from the ad agency.

“MJ is a friend who I asked to step in and read this thing. Bob is a very funny guy and he always did impersonations,” Dildarian recalled. “With no prepping, he started talking like Debbie. People loved the voices. It all seems to avoid the professional veneer. I like that if feels underproduced.”

According to HBO, “Tim” drew 1.2 million cumulative viewers each week. No word has been given for a season two order. If it does, it could come fairly soon.

“We’re in the middle of waiting to hear. All I can say is there’s reason to be optimistic.”

— Stuart Levine

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