Monday, February 18, 2008

In Treatment
It's been on for 2 weeks now, but I've only just gotten around to watching some of the episodes of HBO's ambitious new series, In Treatment, and I think it's fantastic, so I wanted to mention it. Why is it ambitious? It's running for 43 weeknights in a row, half an hour a night. That's over nine weeks straight, with no repeats, telling the story of a man who's falling apart while having to keep it together while listening to other people whose lives are falling apart? Confused?

The always amazing Gabriel Byrne stars as a psychiatrist named Paul who's visited by the same patients week after week. On Monday he sees Laura (Melissa George, best known to me as evil Lauren from Alias), a woman who's actually in love with him and has him playing a part in her most erotic fantasies. On Tuesday it's Alex (Blair Underwood), a Navy pilot who bombed a village, killing several innocent children, but feels no remorse for it. Wednesday is Sophie (Mia Wasikowska), a gymnast and Olympic hopeful who's been in an accident and is ordered to see a psychiatrist by her insurance company, who thinks she's suicidal. Thursday is Amy (Embeth Davitz) and Jake (Josh Charles), a couple who have been through numerous fertility treatments, and now that she's finally pregnant, she wants an abortion.

Friday, not surprisingly, Paul goes to see his OWN psychiatrist, Gina (played by the inimitable Dianne Wiest), to vent about his patients and his own failing marriage to Kate (Michelle Forbes, Cain from Battlestar). He and Gina have their own troubled past, so there's a power situation present in each of their sessions, and it's fascinating to watch him reacting to Gina's probing questions with the same hostility that his patients give him, yet all the while he's complaining about how hostile they are to him. Each episode is only half an hour long, and the stories these characters tell draw you in to their worlds, and what we think we're about to see is never what we get. In the second week, one of the appointments is unexpectedly cut short, and the rest of the episode is between Paul and Kate, who have a fight of epic proportions. Forbes and Byrne are so terrific in this scene that the last time I remember being this blown away by marital dischord on television was that massive blowout between Carmela and Tony that they have in his TV room.

This show is amazing, and I'm completely hooked. In Canada, the series airs on The Movie Network Monday to Friday at 8:30pm ET, and 9:30 CT on Movie Central, and then the 5 episodes of the week are repeated on the weekends. If you get On Demand, they might be all there, because I definitely recommend watching it from the beginning. You won't be disappointed.


Adi said...

You'd probably be surprised to hear, but In Treatment is an original Israeli show, and HBO purchased the rights for it.

leor said...

i agree, it's an excellent show, and what really fascinates me about it is how it almost feels like a series of one-act plays. i love that it's almost completely dialogue, with very little venturing into the world outside of paul's office, or gina's house.

for those with PVRs or on demand, i highly recommend watching the show a week at a time, so that it's all fresh in your mind!

vinnie said...

that sounds interesting, i've just checked out and it's not on demand..darn it. I guess i'll just watch random episodes.

Nikki Stafford said...

Adi: I *did* actually know that, but don't know any details. How did the show do there? Did they do more than one season? I keep watching it wondering how they can go beyond this season, and I wonder if it's a one-off thing?

Leor: That's exactly how I described it to my husband to get him to watch, that it's like watching a play. And I, too, watch it a week at a time. :)

This will come as a shock to NO ONE, but did you see Robert Cushman reviewed it 2 days after I did... and hated it? Quelle surprise. I was going to post on it, but figured I've given that guy too much space on my blog as it is.

Adi said...

Regarding the original Israeli version, it's on the second season now and it's doing very well. I'm not watching it, as it's not showing on my TV provider.