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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

watch it: ‘United States of Tara: Season 1, Episode 1’

I was kinda excited when I got an email from a Showtime representative offering me the opportunity to stream the entire first episode of Toni Collette’s new comedy series, The United States of Tara, here at FlickFilosopher.com. It wasn’t an exclusive deal or anything — I wouldn’t have imagined I’d be flattered that way — but I jumped on it for a few reasons. I love Collette, for one. For two, it’s another example of the coming covergence of TV and the Internet. This — teasing viewers with entire episodes of a new show — is surely a mere precursor to a series debuting online and staying there, never moving to cable or broadcast. Tara won’t appear in the tube till next Sunday, the 18th, and here it is today, right here at FlickFilosopher.com.

But as you’ll see when you run the player, a little announcement tells us this isn’t quite the version of the episode that Showtime will air on Sunday. That’s a bummer, and I feel just a teesy bit jerked around. They don’t even tell us what’s different.

Still, I like what I see here. I like seeing Collette take up the Tracey Ullman mantle. I was expecting a sketch comedy, and when it started off looking like a dramatic sitcom with Collette playing more than one character, I thought, Okay, that’s an interesting twist. And then, when it took an even wilder turn around the halfway point, I thought, Whoa, I might have to subscribe to Showtime to see this. That’s one way to cope with the ennui of suburban housewifery.

Plus, series developer Diablo Cody (the screenwriter of Juno) and costar John Corbett are intriguing bonuses.

The United States of Tara debuts on Showtime on Sunday, January 18, at 10pm Eastern.

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