Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Treatment (2008)

The main reason I said yes to cable after a 13-year hiatus was for HBO. Six-Feet Under, Sopranos, Sex and the City, Entourage, Flight of the Conchords, Life and Times of Tim and, most recently, In Treatment.

Gabriel Byrne plays Paul, a 50-year-old shrink, caught in a mid-life crisis and a crumbling marriage. Each show is a session with a client. Four days a week, we are in session with the same client on the same day. Every Monday is Laura (Melissa George), a young, attractive doctor who declares her love for Paul after a year in therapy. Tuesday, is Alex (Blair Underwood), a perfectionist Navy pilot who comes to therapy after an disastrous bombing in Iraq and a recent heart attack. On Wednesdays, it's Sophie (Mia Wasikowska), the teenage Olympic-hopeful gymnast who comes to Paul in hopes he will prepare an analysis that states she did not attempt suicide in a recent accident. On Thursdays, we get to know Amy (Embeth Davidtz) and Jake (Josh Charles), a volatile couple trying to figure out if they should follow through with Amy's 2nd pregnancy. Fridays are dedicated to Paul's own therapy with his former mentor, Gina (Dianne Wiest).

In Treatment is based on an Israeli drama called Be’ Tipul. HBO's adaptation is said to be faithful, albeit a few minor tweaks.

Sophie on

The first season has eight episodes of each client's therapy. The set up is odd at first. Without outside characters providing their usual judgements and opinions to push along the plot, you tarry in forming rounded ideas about the characters. Paul discusses the clients and his feelings and attitudes about them with Gina. Gina offers her own comments and it starts to work. After a few weeks, the characters and their volley sessions with Paul become addictive. You want to know...will Paul succumb to his desire for Laura and start a relationship with her? Will Alex fly too soon? Can Jake and Amy survive if they work through their differences? Is Paul too jaded to continue practicing? Why is Paul so antagonistic toward Gina? Events occur that get Paul out of the office. By the last episode, it's hypnotic. First season released this week to DVD; second season kicks off on HBO in a week. I cannot wait. From the sneak peek trailers, it looks like the client-patients are new. Uh-oh. What about my old favs?

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