DAVID BIANCULLI

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Diving Into "In Treatment," And Loving It
January 28, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
I'm presenting a full review of HBO's new In Treatment series on today's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, so I won't repeat myself here. Instead, I'll do more of a bloggy thing, and talk about how, and how completely, this innovative new series got me hooked.

gabrielbyrne.jpgThe format, taken from an Israeli series that became a big hit over there, is more of a miniseries in scope, but played out with the frequency of a daytime soap opera. It's about a therapist played by Gabriel Byrne, who sees four different patients - one each on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, he visits his own therapist. That weekly schedule continues for nine straight weeks, as we learn more about the patients, the therapist, and their relationships together.

It's a crazy thing, in this day and age, to ask viewers to commit to. But between HBO's schedule of repeats, and online and on-demand availability, catching up is easier than ever. And In Treatment rewards that commitment, almost exponentially. The more you watch, the better it gets.

Monday is Laura (played by Melissa George), who has a crush on Byrne's therapist Paul. Tuesday is Alex (Blair Underwood), a bomber pilot back from Iraq. Wednesday is Sophie (Mia Wasikowska), a teen gymnast with two broken arms. Thursday is a couples therapy session with Jake (Josh Charles) and Amy (Embeth Davidtz), who aren't getting along. And on Friday, Paul sees Gina (Dianne Wiest), a therapist with her own issues. There's also Michelle Forbes as Paul's wife, Kate.

HBO sent out the first four weeks' worth of shows for review - more than enough to see how things unfold. These are like little one-act plays, or verbal ballets. And each week, almost each show, brings a surprise: revelation, flirtation, confrontation. The acting gets stronger, the writing more fluid, the characters more fully rounded and intriguing.

But here's the kicker. Just before writing my reviews, HBO sent weeks five through seven. I didn't have to watch them, but, being anal about such things, I would have - yet this time, I couldn't wait to see them. It wasn't duty, it was pleasure.

And when a TV show crosses over into my "pleasure" zone, that's when I know it's something special. In Treatment is precisely that.

 

1 Comment

 

Jixichick said:

I'm looking forward to this new series - maybe it will start to fill the huge gaping hole in my heart when The Wire is no longer. Speaking of shows set in the therapist's office, one of my favorite shows is a mini comedy called Head Case on the Starz network. Found it completely by accident. Alexandra Wentworth is hilarious.

Comment posted on January 28, 2008 10:24 AM

 
 
 
 
 
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