Comedies nab third-season pickups

Showtime is showing the love for its leading ladies: “Nurse Jackie” and “United States of Tara” have both been renewed for a third season.

Emboldened by solid ratings for both shows’ second-season bows on Monday, the pay cabler moved quickly to order another 12 segs of them.

Showtime topper Robert Greenblatt was impressed by Monday’s preem performances and figured there was no reason to wait on greenlights for both skeins.

“We’re always looking to see how a show comes back and we saw the numbers were better than we thought they might be. We tend to need a longer lead time for our shows, and there was no reason not to pick them up now,” Greenblatt told Daily Variety.

Edie Falco starrer “Nurse Jackie” drew a combined 1.5 million viewers for the 10 p.m. original telecast and repeat an hour later, up 14% from the first season premiere episode and up 19% from the season finale. The 10 p.m. “Jackie” episode was up 8% vs. last year and is impressive in that the show’s summer 2009 preem had the benefit of laffer “Weeds” as a lead-in. This time around, “Jackie” — co-produced by Lionsgate and Showtime — was on its own, and it also bowed at a much more competitive point in the TV year.

Linda Wallem, Liz Brixius and Richie Jackson exec produce.

“Tara” drew 1.1 million viewers for the night, which was on par with the season-one premiere, and, with help from the “Nurse Jackie” lead-in, was up nearly 94% from the season-one finale. Star Toni Collette earned the lead comedy actress Emmy last year for her work in the first season of “Tara.”

Series, exec produced by Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Dave Finkel, Brett Baer and Diablo Cody, hails from DreamWorks TV and Showtime.

The renewal deals also lock up lead actresses Falco and Collette. Both thesps are often working on outside projects — Falco is set to co-star in the Off Broadway production of “This Wide Night,” and Collette is prepping for a bigscreen pic.

Showtime recently announced that Laura Linney’s “The Big C” is set to launch on Aug. 16. Dark comedy will launch behind the sixth season of “Weeds” at 10:30 p.m.

In other shows at the net, “Dexter” — coming off stellar ratings in its fourth season — will go back into production in May. European history drama “The Borgias” and Matt LeBlanc comedy “Episodes” both will have the cameras rolling in June.

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