DAVID BIANCULLI

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HBO's "In Treatment" Has Been Very Good Therapy
March 26, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
When HBO's In Treatmentbegan nine weeks ago, it established its unorthodox dramatic structure instantly: Gabriel Byrne would play a therapist, Paul, who each weekday would take part in a different scheduled session.

Laura, who had a crush on him, was Mondays. Alex, the arrogant military pilot, was Tuesdays. Sophie, the suicidal teen gymnast, was Wednesdays. Jake and Amy, the married couple with a baby on the way and with some friction between them, was Thursdays. And Paul, on Fridays, sought out his own therapist, Gina, to talk about his patients, and what was going on in his own life.

in-treatment-sophies-dad-ma.jpg

But this week, the ninth and final in this show's first-season run, there was no In Treatment on Monday, and no In Treatment on Tuesday. It returns tonight at 9:30 ET, with Paul meeting Sophie for her final session. With her, he's made real progress, and tonight she even confronts her father, played by guest star Peter Horton.

Elsewhere, though, Paul's record has been decidedly mixed.

There was no Monday show because, for Paul, there are no more Monday sessions: Laura, after she and Paul discussed their mutual attraction, stopped being a patient. Alex, the pilot, stopped being a patient, too -- because he died, in a pilot training exercise that, to Paul, seemed a lot like intentional suicide.

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Thursday, there will be a session, but Jake and Amy the couple are now Jake and Amy, two individuals. She had a miscarriage, and it appears they're heading for divorce. And on Friday, Paul may be heading in a similar direction. He finally seeks out Laura, then goes to Gina to discuss the impact of that visit on his own marriage, professional ethics, and future.

In other words, In Treatment has been a tumultuous journey for all involved. The primary cast -- Melissa George as Laura, Blair Underwood as Alex, Mia Wasikowska as Sophie, Josh Charles and Embeth Davidtz as Jake and Amy, and Dianne Wiest as Gina -- has been fabulous, and Byrne, tackling a Herculean amount of screen time, has been remarkably subtle, credible and, despite all his character's flaws, likable. Also, the narrative has made room for other actors and roles, including Michelle Forbes as Kate, Paul's unfaithful and unhappy wife.

We've met Paul's children, Sophie's mother (and, tonight, her father), Alex's grieving father, and other friends and relatives -- all of whom shed light on the people we witness in Paul's short therapy sessions. In Treatment introduced a new way of unspooling a story, and it's been a very effective and addictive method.

I hope, in HBO's programming equivalents of therapy sessions, they're seriously discussing a second season.

 

2 Comments

 

Anne said:

So cool Peter Horton now on this show. What a great casting decision. I had no idea we would see him of all people tonight. Great episode.

Comment posted on March 26, 2008 9:41 PM


allen said:

The best HBO has done since the Sopranos. Keep it going HBO.

Comment posted on March 27, 2008 6:50 AM

 
 
 
 
 
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