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Help! Tar won't work!

The first few archives I opened with tar worked fine,
but then it stopped working.  I installed cpio and the
first few tars I opened with it worked fine too, but
then it stopped functioning as well.  I tried
reinstalling both, to no avail.  What happens is, I
type the command to untar an archive, and it scrolls
up a line and the next line is just blank, and the
whole thing freezes until I hit CTRL-C, at which point
I'm back at the prompt again.  I can tell it isn't
doing anything during this time because the HDrive
light isn't on and it isn't making any drive noises. 

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