Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Six years after taking American TV by storm with her FOX network sketch comedy series, versatile British entertainer Tracey Ullman returned with another maelstrom of colorful characters (mostly played by herself!), cutting-edge humor, and razor-sharp social satire -- and this time she was on pay cable, allowing her to indulge in "taboo" subject matter and four-letter expletives to her heart's content. Debuting January 24, 1996, on HBO, the weekly, half-hour Tracey Takes On.... found the eponymous star focusing on one single topic per episode: romance, nostalgia, fantasy, secrets, childhood, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, crime, movies, money, smoking, race relations, and (is there any doubt?) sex. Ullman's personal repertoire of comic characters -- male and female, Caucasian and Asian, Christian and Jew, gay and straight, flotsam and jetsam -- included Sydney Cross, Ruby Romaine, Linda Granger, Kay Clark, Rayleen Gibson, Miss Noh Nang Ning, Virginia Bugge, Deborah Rosenthal, Trevor Ayliss, and a host of others. Through the magic of computer technology, several of these characters were seen interacting with one another -- and despite the fact that only one actress was actually appearing onscreen, the illusion of multiple characters was never betrayed. Other than herself, the actress' cast of recurring guest performers included at least one carryover from The Tracey Ullman Show, Julie Kavner, as well as Jon Favreau, Michael McKean, George Segal, Danny Woodburn, Hugh Laurie, Michael Tucker, Adele Givens, Cheech Marin, and Seymour Cassel. Nominated for over 40 industry awards, Tracey Takes On.... lasted five seasons and 55 episodes (not counting three "best-of" clip shows), ending its run on March 4, 1999.